Tech companies are going wild over the idea of cloud hosting as it offers a simpler and more accessible way to maintain a scalable back-end infrastructure. But what does all that jargon mean? What is cloud hosting all about?
What is Cloud Hosting Service?
To truly understand what cloud hosting is, we have to go back in time a little way to the basics of the Internet. What is it all about? Well, the fundamentals are this: your computer (termed a ‘client’) connects to another computer – it could be across the other side of the world, so it’s called a ‘remote’ computer – which we call a ‘server’.
Your computer forwards your request – it could be for a web page (such as the news), or a particular piece of music (if you’re using a music streaming service such as Spotify).
The ‘server’ then looks inside itself to find the thing you requested and then serves it up to you (kind of like how a waiter serves up food in a restaurant).
Your computer then displays whatever it’s received in the appropriate program (if it’s a webpage, probably a ‘browser’, such as Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, or a piece of music through the relevant program such as Spotify or iTunes).
Now, this server is a physical machine that sits somewhere in the world checking for information all day long. And someone has to own that server and maintain it. In the past, the person who owned the data on the server probably owned the server too. Cloud hosting changes all that.
How The Cloud Works
Modern companies buy huge numbers of servers, which they put into a ‘server farm’. This ‘farm’ can handle many incoming requests from clients all over the world, and look inside themselves to find information many thousands of times a second. All of these servers are added together to form a big ‘virtual server’.
That might seem weird, but it’s not really: think of the servers as pieces of clay. If you add them together, they just form a bigger ball of the same stuff – clay. You can still make things out of the material, there’s just more of it.
Now, these companies often don’t need all the space – and ‘computational capacity’ (the brains) – that all these virtual servers offer for themselves. So, they ‘rent out’ parts of the server – along with some natty bits of software to make sure everything plays nicely together – to people who are willing to pay a monthly fee for some space on the server to store their information (web pages, pieces of music and so on). This is called ‘hosting’.
If you have someone visit your house, they’re your ‘guests’ and you’re their ‘host’. The companies that own the server farms are the ‘hosts’ for all kinds of ‘guests’, who rent space from them.
So, that’s the basics of ‘cloud hosting’. To jump it up a notch: the physical location of each server in a server farm is getting less and less important, as signals can be sent around the world very fast.
So it’s possible to add servers from completely different locations to a single ‘server farm’. Enter the ‘cloud’ part of ‘cloud hosting’ – by virtualizing the server farm across geographies, these hosting companies are leveraging the awesome power of the ‘cloud’ to be able to buy servers as cheaply as possible, unconstrained by geographical limitations.
That means they can pass the savings on to customers – and which is why setting up your own website is becoming increasingly cheaper to do. That’s the beauty of cloud hosting.