Interesting Articles - VPS Hosting
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back to topThe advantages of Virtual Private Servers (VPS) versus shared and dedicated
For a long time the only platform choice in hosting was between low-cost shared servers or high-cost dedicated servers. Now there is a viable third choice – mid-priced Virtual Private Servers (VPS).
Virtual is the key word
A VPS offers many of the advantages of a dedicated server whilst physically running in shared hardware. This is achieved through smart virtualisation software that creates and manages a number of ‘virtual servers’ within the shared hardware.
Each ‘virtual server’ appears to the customer’s applications, databases and so on as if it really was a dedicated server, with a pre-set memory size, disk size and network bandwidth. It even allows the customer to fully configure the environment for their specific application and security needs.
The virtualisation software then protects that ‘virtual server’ from the actions of all other ‘virtual servers’ that are operating on the same physical hardware. So, should another customer’s application go ‘rogue’ because of a coding error or become swamped with internet transactions, the other ‘virtual servers’ would carry on as normal. Even a major crash within one ‘virtual server’ won’t affect the others.
The virtualisation software that makes VPS possible has become very advanced indeed and recently we’ve seen the entry of Microsoft into the market with their Hyper-V product. This is strong evidence that the virtualisation approach is fast becoming mainstream, not just for hosting companies like us, but also for large IT users looking to improve the efficiency of their hardware utilisation.
The advantages of VPS over shared servers
The biggest drawback of using a shared environment for your websites or applications is the impact of on your system’s performance and reliability from those that you share with.
All you need is one of the other user’s applications to crash badly and the whole shared server would stop and need re-booting. Similarly another user’s website becoming very popular would slow the system down for your applications as they would consume a disproportionate amount of the shared system resources.
Under the VPS approach these issues just go away. It’s as simple as that.
The virtualisation software protects each ‘virtual server’ from the others and isolates the key resources that have been configured. So if one VPS has been configured with 512Mb of RAM, then it always has that amount of memory available to it regardless of what other ‘virtual servers’ are requesting (even though the total pool of RAM is shared amongst all ‘virtual servers’).
It is this protection and isolation that justifies the use of Private in the VPS name.
The advantages of VPS over dedicated servers
Before virtualisation software became available the only alternative to the performance ‘lucky dip’ of shared servers was dedicated configurations.
This required the hosting provider to purchase and configure new hardware for each customer. This in turn meant a substantial capital investment upfront by the hoster and the rapid consumption of their data centre space, power, network connections and so on. Because of this the fee for dedicated servers has been set high.
The VPS concept changes the hoster’s cost model considerably. Now, the hoster can provide a near-dedicated quality of service using shared hardware, which reduces the consumption of their data centre racking, power and network connections. This cost reduction is passed onto the customer through reduced fees.
Another cost-related issue that using VPS technology changes considerably only comes into play after a number of years of use … hardware refresh. In the traditional dedicated server model, when the server hardware reached a certain age (often three years) it made sense to refresh it for new hardware. This would reduce the risk of failure as well as allowing the customer to take advantage of improvements on processors speeds and so on.
The idea of refreshing the hardware after a period of continuous still holds true for a VPS, but the big difference is in who pays. For a dedicated server, the full cost of the replacement hardware was borne by the customer through the fee levels, sometimes including a new set-up fee as well. Whereas in the VPS model, the cost is spread over a number of customers, thus the fees can remain low throughout multi-year contracts even when hardware refresh is included.
Virtualisation is being rapidly embraced by both hosting companies as well as large IT using organisations. As an approach it makes strong financial as well as technical sense and even reduces carbon footprints. There will, of course, still be complex computing needs for which true dedicated servers are a necessity.
But for many commercial computing needs virtualisation offers significant resilience and performance improvements over using shared servers with no technical disadvantages. VPS has definitely come of age.
If you’d like to chat through your hosting needs and see whether a VPS solution would be of benefit, just give us a call.