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August 2021
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Cloud hosting vs traditional hosting vs managed hosting—all you need to know

cloud hosting

With more and more businesses moving online, the conversation around hosting and hosting options is becoming all the more important. Cloud hosting, in particular, is becoming increasingly popular among businesses due to its many advantages. 

Despite the growing interest in moving businesses online, there is a big number of businesses out there that do not really understand the different hosting options or why cloud hosting is becoming so popular versus traditional web hosting, or even managed hosting. 

The decision on the type of hosting one makes in order to build their business is the most fundamental and, possibly, the most overlooked decision. So, if you’re looking into your hosting options, trying to understand why cloud hosting is so popular and if it suits your business, you’re in the right place! 

What is cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting is still a relatively new technology. Contrary to web hosting where a user buys a certain amount of space on a server, cloud hosting represents virtual storage space. In cloud hosting, the resources required to host a website are distributed across more than one server and are used on-demand. This effectively addresses one of the biggest hosting challenges—website downtime.

Cloud hosting vs traditional hosting vs managed hosting

In cloud hosting, servers are usually virtual machines (VMs) offered by a cloud services provider. Other services are also provided by the same vendor, increasing the value of the global offered service.

On the other hand, in traditional hosting, private servers are provisioned. These servers can be VMs or bare metal servers, without the cloud services that would be offered by a cloud provider. Here, server resources are used simultaneously by several users. This is often referred to as web hosting, or shared hosting in commercial offerings.

In both these cases, the resources allocated to your server are a subset of the total capacity of the physical server.

But what about managed hosting? In managed hosting, servers are physical machines, dedicated to your needs, and not shared with anybody else. Depending on the providers, there might be some services, often related to backup, alongside the server offerings. Some companies  also refer to this type of hosting as VPS or virtual servers.

Now, let’s take a look at how these three options rank on a number of key indicators.

cloud hosting vs traditional hosting vs managed hosting

Infrastructure customization

Cloud hosting – Cloud providers offer a wide range of hardware and cloud server sizes, and allow you to choose a machine that matches your application’s needs. If the need for certain resources changes, you can change the size of your cloud server in a few clicks.

Traditional hosting – On private servers, the choice is often a bit more limited by the providers, but might still allow a change in the server’s size.

Managed hosting – With dedicated servers, users can choose from a list of servers offered by the provider. They sometimes offer customization on their dedicated server offerings. Finding a provider for a small dedicated server can be difficult, as they tend to fulfill bigger needs. Once rented, it cannot be upgraded easily and you will need to install a new server and migrate your data.

Infrastructure resilience

Cloud hosting – In cloud hosting, storage is decorrelated from the rest of the hardware, meaning that in case of an incident on the server, you can always boot up the server on another hardware in a matter of seconds. Obviously, the storage itself has redundancies managed by the provider, making data corruption or loss less likely to happen.

Traditional hosting – In the shared hosting industry, resilience is a cornerstone of offerings. As customers share the same resources, it is of the utmost priority that resources stay available, including storage reservations and network bandwidth. Any incident would impact many customers.

Managed hosting – On a dedicated server, the hardware resources are fully allocated to you, but if something fails, your entire application or data might become unavailable or even unrecoverable.

Services ecosystem

Cloud hosting – Cloud providers are offering the widest ecosystem, thus allowing you to develop new services with less technical knowledge. For example, with cloud hosting you can order managed database servers, managed object storage, or managed domain-name services.

Traditional hosting and managed hosting – Private server providers and dedicated server providers often offer very few services alongside their servers, leaving it to your IT team to create and manage those services.

Performance per price ratio

Cloud hosting – Although performance-wise, the cloud has a lot to offer, visibility into the total costs of cloud services remains a challenge. Over time, it is possible that cloud providers might get better results as they are investing a lot of time into research for new, more cost-effective hardware.

Traditional hosting – Private servers providers are not really comparable, due to the big number of offerings on the market. Some might provide a good performance/price ratio, while others might “oversell” their servers, resulting in poorer overall performance.

Managed hosting – The battle here is won by dedicated servers. As they offer dedicated resources with few additional services, they often represent the best choice to optimize your costs. This, however, also means that your own team needs to be taking care of all parts of your infrastructure.

Management simplicity

Cloud hosting – Management simplicity is key in cloud hosting where servers are available and ready to use in a matter of minutes. Cloud hosting also offers excellent management tools that allow you to manage and configure almost every aspect of your application. 

Traditional hosting – Private servers are often offering pre-installed management software aimed at easing the management of the server. In most cases, however, the power of those tools is quite limited.

Managed hosting – Dedicated servers give you full control of your hardware, but might come short on the helping tools that come with them.

Without a SysAdmin, managing a private or a dedicated server might not be that easy! Dedicated servers need skilled people to handle stability and availability through upgrades, deployments, etc.

Scalability

Cloud hosting – Again in this category, the match is overwhelmingly won by cloud server providers. In a few clicks, you get a new server behind your managed load balancer. Keep in mind, however, that you still have to manage the deployment of your app.

Traditional and managed hosting – Scaling private or dedicated servers is pretty similar. Whenever you need to scale your application and add a new server, you have to order a new one from a web interface or an API, then install and customize it, and manage how traffic is redirected.

Public cloud vs private cloud vs hybrid cloud

Now that you made the decision that cloud hosting is the best choice (I know you did!), there’s another set of options that you need to consider and decide which type of cloud suits your business. 

As we saw earlier in our comparison between cloud hosting, traditional hosting, and managed hosting, traditional web hosting offers private servers that are shared by multiple users while managed hosting offers dedicated servers and machines. There is a similar choice to be made in cloud hosting as well, where you have the options of public, private, or hybrid cloud. 

Then why choose cloud hosting over traditional or managed hosting in the first place if you have to make the same choice all over again? Well, good question! 

Unlike traditional hosting where the infrastructure resources are split among the server users, in cloud hosting you don’t have to share any infrastructure resources of the virtual servers as they are always ring-fenced. 

And now that we cleared the air about this one, let’s have a closer look at the three main types of cloud. 

Public cloud

Public cloud is the most common type of cloud computing where, as we explained before, you share the same hardware, storage, and network devices with other users. In public cloud,  all hardware, software, and middleware are owned and managed by the cloud provider. All cloud resources are also owned and managed by the provider and delivered to you over the internet.

Benefits:

  • Scalable
  • Flexible
  • Easy to use 
  • Low average costs
  • No maintenance costs

Drawbacks:

  • Increased security risks (mostly due to customer misuse)
  • Risk of vendor lock-in
  • High pace of change

Private cloud

In private cloud, all resources are available exclusively to one user and can be located either on-prem or operated off-site by a third-party vendor. Contrary to public cloud where resources are delivered over the internet, in private cloud resources are delivered via a secure private network.

Benefits:

  • Scalable (but often limited based on overall server capacity)
  • Highly configurable 
  • Better isolation and data compliance 

Drawbacks:

  • Expensive 
  • Limited availability for mobile development
  • Hardware obsolescence

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud, as you would guess, combines characteristics from public and private cloud. This type of cloud allows data to move between on-prem infrastructure, or private cloud, and public cloud. What makes hybrid cloud unique and interesting is how well it covers business needs and the necessity to comply with aspects like security. 

Benefits:

  • Scalable
  • Flexible
  • Secure and regulation compliant 
  • Reliable

Drawbacks:

  • Increased cost of ownership
  • High complexity
  • Issues with compatibility 
  • Network transfer costs

I strongly believe that cloud hosting is well on its way to becoming the core of everything digital. That being said, if your particular business needs are not met with cloud hosting, you should not feel pressured to adopt cloud computing just because it’s trendy! 

But in case you do want to move to the cloud, check out Artifakt—an all-in-one public Platform as a Service that helps developers deploy, host, and manage web applications on enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure. Care to have a look? Feel free to reach out to us or schedule a demo. 

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