VPS vs cloud: the difference between hosting platforms

Cloud hosting vs VPS: what’s the difference? What are the main benefits of these hosting solutions and what tasks do they solve? This article will answer these questions and help you choose a hosting platform.

What’s the difference between VPS and the cloud?

VPS, a virtual private server, is a fixed segment of the resources of one physical server. The cloud is based on multiple dedicated servers and you can change the configuration instantly whenever you need to.

Let us look into the differences between these two technologies in more detail:

  • scaling: VPS is a closed system with a set configuration. Resources in the cloud are presented as a unified pool where you can scale them up or down at any moment;
  • data safety: VPS uses the security measures of the data center and measures installed by the user. The cloud offers the protection that virtual servers have, as well as internal security measures, such as hardware-based encryption;
  • redundancy: if the host server fails, all virtual machines will be rendered unavailable. This is impossible in the cloud, which works using multiple physical servers.

VPS vs cloud

Both technologies are based on virtualization, which segments servers into virtual machines. In the case of the VPS, these machines function like a dedicated server with a defined configuration. This is why VPS rental is paid in advance for a certain period; the configuration always remains the same. On the contrary, resources in the cloud can be adjusted at any given moment. This is why cloud services are provided using the «pay-as-you-go» model.

What are the pros and cons of VPS?

VPS/VDS users get a virtual server for exclusive use. The VPS is created using a type of software, a hypervisor, which is installed onto a physical server to segment its resources. The client gets a «slice» of the resources of one physical server. When a client needs more resources, they order another virtual server.

VPS basics

Clients often get root access to the VPS. Root access gives users the ability to install an operating system and other software on the server. In principle, VPS users get a separate server with dedicated resources and the ability to deploy software solutions with no limitations other than the hardware configuration.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having an isolated hosting environment:

  • all data and services are inaccessible to other VPS users on the same host server;
  • the virtual machine can be launched, rebooted and shut down independently from other users;
  • the VPS is connected to the user’s local network; virtual servers can use dedicated IP addresses, routing tables etc;
  • the actions of other users do not affect the resources of your virtual private server.

One of the main advantages of VDS is the price. There are VPS configurations comparable with physical dedicated servers, but more affordable. However, you won’t be able to scale the resources as the workloads increase. The growth of a business and traffic growth make it necessary to expand the IT infrastructure. The company will have to order a new VPS with another configurations and redeploy the systems.

VPS is a good solution for light workloads, such as remote desktops and collective work with office apps, deploying small e-commerce projects, corporate websites and certain types of servers (proxy, mail, monitoring, voice communication etc).

VDS is often not a good fit for tasks that take a lot of resources, such as video and audio streaming, game servers and apps with high or volatile traffic, cryptocurrency mining, large e-commerce projects etc. These uses are often prohibited by the provider’s SLA. If these prohibitions are violated, the VPS will be turned off to prevent any negative effects on other user’s virtual machines.

Some VPS providers oversell their resources. Overselling is a practice where providers sell more resources than they can actually offer at all times. This won’t affect users as long as they do not use 100% of their resources. However, peak traffic loads will inevitably slow down the virtual machines of every user on the same physical server. In these cases, clients end up paying for resources that aren’t available to them and the performance is lower than expected.

Heavy workloads on other users’ VPS can sometimes lead to failures. This can limit the bandwidth of the disk subsystem and other shared resources on the VPS. Providers control and prevent these situations as much as possible. Nonetheless, a failure on the physical server will stop all virtual servers until the host is fixed. Replacing or repairing broken equipment is the responsibility of the provider. However, in most cases, VPS clients are responsible for setting up backups.

VPS support

Measures such as firewalls or DDoS protection depend on the provider. For example, SIM-Networks offers an array of data protection software for rent. We also store our servers in ISO/IEC 27001-certified data centers. This standard regulates the requirements towards security systems in data centers. If you want to learn more about VPS rental, get acquainted with this service on the SIM-Networks website.

What problems does the cloud solve?

The public cloud is a complex of software and hardware which is provided to the user remotely. This complex includes servers, storage, network infrastructure, apps and services which are presented as a unified pool. The resources of the pool are dynamically distributed between users on-demand.

Public cloud

The IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) model allows users to choose their own configurations, build custom virtual networks using the control panel, install operating systems and apps. The virtual network devices in the cloud can be set up and connected just like their physical counterparts.

Flexibility is one of the main advantages of IaaS. Public clouds can be scaled instantly based on the user’s needs without having to contact the provider. Adding or removing resources is done through the control panel, no matter the time of day or the location of the user. This feature will be of interest to clients with high demands to scaling, stability and performance.

Microservices are often used in the cloud. These services are aimed at securing data, monitoring and other tasks. As an example, here’s a couple of microservices available in the public SIM-Cloud:

  • VPN-as-a-Service, VPNaaS, – helps users set up virtual private networks quickly;
  • Firewall-as-a-service, FWaaS, – filters internet traffic based on the chosen security policies;
  • DNS-as-a-Service, DNSaaS, – helps users automatically control domain configurations, as well as create, edit and delete DNS records;
  • Notification-as-a-Service – sends automatic notifications about important events in the project.

As a rule, clients are allowed to install their own microservices in addition to the ones available by default. Some providers also offer XaaS services on-demand. The most common example of such a service is BaaS, Backup-as-a-Service. Users do not have to set up their own reserve copying systems; all you have to do is choose your preferred options and the backups will be created automatically.

Cloud hosting is fault tolerant due to cluster architecture. The uptime of services in the cloud does not depend on any particular physical device, such as a disk array, a server, a router etc. If a piece of hardware fails, its workloads will be transferred to another device on the fly. This won’t affect the functioning of the client’s services. Some providers also offer separate availability zones in the cloud. An availability zone is an independent environment within the cloud which uses its own hardware base. Deploying services in 2 availability zone makes them twice as fault-tolerant.

It’s important to note that public clouds are not used for working with confidential data, such as banking or medical records. This prohibition is due to the fact that data in the cloud is stored next to other user’s data. Private clouds are used in industries that work with confidential information; in other cases, public clouds are used for less sensitive data.

Cloud Server

Cloud server

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Which is the right choice for my company, the cloud or VPS?

When considering the benefits of VPS vs the cloud for your business, it is important to note that they are different instruments that solve tasks of varying types and levels.

VPS is a good fit for relatively small projects that don’t require a complex infrastructural solution. A classic example would be organizing a remote office for a company with 10-20 employees. A virtual server will easily handle this as long as the workloads are relatively stable and the configuration gives enough flexibility for the project. This is a good option for smaller companies that need resources comparable to those of a dedicated server without overspending on IT.

The cloud is the perfect solution for big projects with a complex network topology, high demands towards security and scaling. The ability to change the configuration instantly will help the client adapt to their company’s growth. This will also be of benefit to businesses that often deal with seasonal traffic. Cloud users can turn off resources they’re not currently using and pay less when they need less.

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