Is VPS the same as a cloud or not? (spoiler: actually, not!)

VDS vs Cloud Server - the main differences


What is better to prefer — a cloud, VPS, or VDS? It’s a question that leads to a blind alley many newcomers of system administrating. Really, searching for the best place to deploy your IT infrastructure sometimes you can face difficulties. Let’s clear what is the difference between VPS and VDS, and does a cloud is really similar to them both.



What is VDS

First, let's clarify if there is a difference between VDS and VPS. On the Internet, we meet both definitions, and sometimes it's hard to understand what is what. But there should no confusion — in both cases, we mean the same thing, a virtual server:


  • VDS — a virtual dedicated server;
  • VPS — a virtual private server.

So, the VDS/VPS abbreviation means that the user of this service receives a virtual server that is dedicated to private use.



How a virtual VDS server is shared between usersTo create VPS, we use a hypervisor, the specific application software, which is installed on a physical server and allocates its resources for deploying several independent virtual servers.


At the same time, the CPUs of the new generation support for virtualization at the hardware level. And the VPS user gets the maximum administrative privileges, including root access, the highest level that allows you to install the operating system and other software on the computer.


Read more about what a hypervisor is, what it is, and how to choose a hypervisor for your project, see our article Hypervisors: everything you have always wanted to learn about them.


But why does this ordinary virtual server cannot get a one-and-only name? Perhaps the hidden differences between VPS and VDS exist actually?


Well, there're some versions. According to one, VPS appeared supposedly earlier, and virtualization performed on its OS level; but later, hypervisors with kernel elements made it possible to deploy VDS directly on the hardware. However, infrastructure experts consider this hypothesis absurd and groundless.


According to another version, which is close to SIM-Networks, it concerns just terminology habits. The term VDS is more often used in the IT environment of Western Europe and the USA, while VPS is frequently used in ex-USSR countries.


Anyway, customers of hosting providers should remember that VDS and VPS are the same solutions. In this article, we will use both equal options.


So, what kind of tasks can solve a VPS? Customers who use this service can proudly tell they get for a penny an entire server with the number of resources specified by the agreement with the provider, and root access gives a feeling of full control over their VDS.


It's impressed. But you should not forget that the CPU, drive space, and RAM you get is only a "slice" —  part from the total capacities of the powerful physical server. When you need more (or fewer) resources, you should order a new VPS at a different price.


What are the benefits of a virtual server? One of the main arguments in favor of VDS is the low price. Really, among infrastructure market offers, you can find such VDS configurations that are quite comparable to a dedicated server, but cheaper. By expanding the fleet of rented virtual servers, you can increase the capabilities of your IT infrastructure for some time. However, the day will come when you grow out of VPS, and it can't meet your needs anymore, so you'll consider renting a dedicated (bare-metal) server.


VPS is a separate, independent “kingdom” for the admin — it's another advantage of this solution:


  • The apps and data of one VDS are totally isolated from the apps and data of another VDS is deployed on the same bare-metal server;
  • You can start, stop and restart your VPS, regardless of other users;
  • VDS is logically connected to the user's local network and serves client apps requests (like a physical server). If necessary, you can order several dedicated IP addresses and configure routing tables, etc.;
  • As a rule, the operation of your VSP is not affected by the operating of other virtual machines on the same physical server (except abnormal cases).

An accident can be caused by extra traffic, higher loading from client applications of one of the VPS, that can limit the drive subsystem capacity, and shared resources for other tenants of VDSs on the same physical server. A classic example is a DDoS attack, virus infection, or hacking. But users also can produce errors. Definitely, the hosting provider controls and prevents, as far as possible, such situations. However, if physical hardware fails, all VPS on it will simultaneously stop working until the server has been repaired.


Virtual Server AdministrationThe provider is responsible for restoring or replacing a failed server, but the safety of the customer's data (all data backup from the VDS) is the customer's responsibility.


The Achilles' heel of VPS technology is that you cannot quickly, on-the-fly, scale resources when the load increases. Business growth, consumer interest, increasing traffic to the website may generate not a success, but the problem to its owner. As the scaling is impossible, you will force to rent another VDS with new parameters, and deploy your system there. All this takes time and money.


So way, VPS matches well for quite low-load tasks — e.g., to connect remote desktops and collective work with office applications, deployment of small e-commerce, corporate sites, and some kinds of servers (proxies, mail, monitoring, etc.).


But you shouldn't choose VDS for streaming video and audio apps, game servers, and high-load apps with increased or bursty traffic, for cryptocurrency mining, large e-commerce projects, and other resource-intensive tasks. Often, hosting providers clearly prohibit such actions in their GTC, and suspend serving the violators, to prevent worsening the working conditions of bonafide users.


On another side, some providers, sometimes, oversell their VDS hosting resources, as they expect the low activity of some customers. In some cases, it is justified, but with peak bursts of operation, the result may be a lack of computing power due to uneven loading and the slowdown of all users.


Thus, VPS performance may not meet your expectations, being lower than the calculated one. The possibilities of integrating such a virtual machine into the network are also limited — you shouldn't expect too much for a low price.


If your IT professional tasks require serious enterprise-class solutions, e.g., building an advanced infrastructure and higher productivity and security, the reasonable way is to consider the cloud migration issue. Despite the poetic name, such "clouds" are deployed on the equipment in datacenters with reliable power supply, secured communication lines, high-availability, and information protection systems.


To deploy a corporate infrastructure in the cloud, two options are most often considered — creating a private cloud or connecting to a public cloud (IaaS). The private cloud is a single-tenant solution based on the redundant cluster of enterprise-class servers. But let us see the advantages of renting resources in a public cloud in more detail.


What is a Public Cloud (Iaas)

IaaS Service ModelPublic cloud is a service model of providing shared access via the Internet to remote computing resources (apps and services, data transfer networks, servers, storage, so on) on-demand. Usually, clouds are based on professional, Enterprise-class equipment, and specific software. All servers and network equipment of the cloud provider are integrated into the entire resource pool. The computing power of this pool is dynamically distributed among consumers based on their requests.


Operations of a cloud user do not depend on a particular hardware device, either disk arrays, or server, or switch, so on. If any of the cloud components fails, its functionality will be duplicated by redundant devices on-the-fly, and the load will be balanced inside of the cloud. And the user will not notice this, because his/her operating in the cloud is not interrupted.


The Infrastructure-as-a-Service model, IaaS, allows users to choose the equipment configuration, building the virtual network via the intuitive management panel, installing all necessary OSs and apps. Nota bene that virtual network devices can be configured, and connected to networks as easily as it can be done with the on-premises hardware in the customer’s office.


The flexibility is a unique advantage of IaaS because the customer can quickly and conveniently scale his/her virtual infrastructure on-demand by himself/herself beyond the participating of the cloud provider. Access from anywhere around-the-clock (sure, if you’re connected to the Internet) enables the customer to scale up or down cloud resources if necessary. It is the critical value for those clients who need scalability, reliability, and productivity.


Cloud computing and data storage in the cloud (cloud storage) are the essential services in any cloud because the functioning of the cloud infrastructure on any platform is impossible without them.


Besides them, cloud providers offer a vast of additional services and microservices. Their variety depends not so much on the cloud platform but the needs in a specific feature. For example, we, SIM-Networks, consider data security as a critical value. So, to provide our cloud customers with reliable data protection, we developed SIM-Cloud BaaS — Backup-as-a-Service. To optimize the process, we chose the incremental backup method.


The most popular backup methods are described in the article Backups: the most effective methods for various activities.


The essence of backup is to regularly save information in its current state according to a preset schedule by special algorithms that, if necessary, will allow you to recover data from the backup archive. Backup archives transfer via reliably encrypted channels to storage in the remote datacenter.


Below there are some more additional services in a cloud offered by various cloud providers:


  • Disaster-Recovery-as-a-ServiceDraaS
  • Backend-as-a-Service, an alternative abbreviation to BaaS as classic Backup-as-a-Service; within this service, customers rent from a provider SDK and APIs
  • Everything-as-a-ServiceEaaS – an entire upgrade of the current corporate IT infrastructure to a cloud service model; it allows to create a flexible enterprise architecture.

Cloud service models are named according to the similar principle:


  • IaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, — within this service model the cloud infrastructure (servers, network, storage, etc.) is provided as a service, and the customer can change the configuration of resources, install the necessary software, integrate services, etc.;
  • PaaS, Platform-as-a-Service, — this service model offers the user a platform, e.g., a web server or a database, where the provider administers the operating system, and the customer has access to application management;
  • SaaS, Software-as-a-Service, — within this model of cloud services, the client gains user access to the application (e.g., e-mail or ERP system), and the provider administers all application settings.

Our cloud solution SIM-Cloud is built on the IaaS-model to give users the most extensive options to configure and manage the infrastructure.


Cloud Infrastructure Benefits
Virtual Server Benefits

Now, let's speak a bit about several ready-made microservices pre-installed in the SIM-Cloud and available to our customers for ordering:


  • VPN-as-a-Service, VPNaaS, allows to configure virtual private networks in a customer's project quickly;
  • Firewall-as-a-service, FWaaS, is filtering the Internet traffic in the project according to preset security rules and policies;
  • DNS-as-a-Service, DNSaaS, allows customers to manage the configuration of domains automatically: create, add, modify, delete DNS records
  • Notification-as-a-Service automatically sends notifications of critical events for a customer's project; this service is used for analytics, in troubleshooting, etc.

More about cloud service models you can learn in our article Cloud Service Models: What does IaaS, PaaS, SaaS mean?. And the most frequent additional services in the cloud are described in the article What does mean XaaS in cloud technology?


A Cloud and VDS: The common and the difference

Well, we already know the essence of VPS and cloud technologies — let's compare them.


There are some common characteristics of cloud and virtual dedicated servers: both VDS and the cloud are based on physical servers and virtualization systems. And... that's all similarities.


What are the key differences? There're many more of them:


  • Scalability — each VPS is technically self-sufficient and is a closed system. It means that you cannot change the configuration of the virtual machine by yourself. Using VDS, you can hardly solve the task of building your networks and subnets. In the cloud, this task is resolved quickly, in a couple of clicks;
  • Information security— VDS has only basic data center protection and the security that the user applies by himself/herself. At the same time, your cloud resource pool is protected by the Information Security systems of the cloud, in addition to defending the data center security system and your data protection tools. E.g., in SIM-Cloud IaaS, data storage disks are protected by hardware-based encryption;
  • Independence from the environment — as we told above, when the physical server is down, all VDS that deployed on it are guaranteed fall. In the cloud, such incidents are impossible due to the mass of technical solutions at the cloud architecture level to ensure high-availability and fail-proof.

These technical nuances explain the technological and price gap between a virtual dedicated server and a resource pool in the cloud.


What is better to choose, a Cloud or VDS?

As a rule, we tend to look for a one-size-fits-all solution, and forget that there are specifically tailored solutions. Some of them are perfect for some purposes; others are efficiently used for others. When you choose between cloud and VPS, remember that they are two different tools for solving applied problems of different types and levels.


For relatively small projects that do not require sophisticated infrastructure solutions, it is enough to rent one or a bit more VDS. The classic option is to organize a remote office for a business of up to 10-20 people, not aimed at conquering the e-commerce universe.


A flexible, reliable, high-available public cloud of the IaaS model is the most reasonable option for larger projects with advanced network topology, with high requirements for security and infrastructure quality, with the mandatory ability to scale.


But to be sure, do not hesitate to ask your hosting provider. The question of choice is not easy, and the right provider of infrastructure solutions will always help you find the best service, depending on the scale and specificity of your tasks. We, Germans, do exactly this way.



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