What is cloud hosting?

If your business relies on applications and uses a website as its main interface with its audience, the chances are that you will have heard of cloud hosting. But what is meant by cloud hosting?

Instead of relying on a single server, as with the traditional hosting service model, a cloud-hosting service uses virtualisation to distribute website and application data over multiple physical and virtual machines. Essentially the cloud makes an organisation’s websites and applications accessible and highly available.

shared hosting and vps

What is cloud hosting?

High availability is possible because cloud hosts are most often spread across different geographical regions in multiple data centres. This supports failover operations to quickly restore systems as part of a disaster recovery plan. Additionally, cloud web hosting uses load balancing for greatly increased traffic, so it can distribute the extra demand across the multiple cloud servers that a cloud-hosting architecture delivers.

Overall, cloud hosting provides a great deal more flexibility over the traditional hosting model. Better scaling, increased performance, enhanced security and increased resilience are a few key benefit examples. Cloud hosting is based on one of several cloud computing services, called infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This provides on demand resources for compute capacity, data storage and networking resources, using a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

Who needs cloud hosting?

Businesses often turn to cloud web hosting when they have reached the limits of what shared, on-premises hosting can support as more people start to access a website and performance issues start to occur. Cloud hosting makes it much easier to plan for and manage traffic spikes since it’s easier to increase capacity or set up automatic scaling to accommodate sudden surges of users.

While any website could find itself suffering a deluge of traffic, there are a few more typical use types that experience this most — shopping and ecommerce sites are the most common ones. Traffic can rise exponentially, especially when there are sales promotions, advertising campaigns or influencer marketing programmes.

The other most common website categories that can experience big increases in traffic include news and media organisations, entertainment and streaming websites, social networking and online community sites plus how-to or informational hubs.

Anyone using popular website platforms can see great gains with cloud web hosting. For example, WordPress cloud hosting means much faster speeds, improved SEO and better security as some of the main benefits. And with WordPress powering 43 per cent of all websites, the opportunity for businesses to benefit from cloud hosting using this platform is highly significant.

What is the difference between cloud hosting and hosting?

There are several options for web hosting and application hosting, either in an on-premises data centre or using a commercial hosting service.

Building and operating an on-site data centre provides businesses with complete control over IT operations. This is useful when security and regulatory needs are high and data access must be limited.

Commercial web hosting services are offered in three broad categories: shared, virtual private server (VPS) and dedicated. All use a single server in a hosting company’s data centre with defined limits for storage, processing power (CPU), memory (RAM) and bandwidth.

Shared hosting is when a company pays for a set amount of space for its website and application resources, with other businesses and organisations sharing the same server. Small- to medium-sized businesses are the typical customers, since costs are low plus some day-to-day management and maintenance is carried out by the hosting company. This is ideal if web usage is steady and predictable.

VPS hosting is an upgrade from the shared model except the single server is divided into separate virtual servers. This enhances security by compartmentalising the server space and shields a company’s data from other users. It is the option chosen when business have ceased being a small business and move to being medium-sized.

Dedicated hosting is ideal when a business has grown to a significant size and needs higher performance and improved security. Using a dedicated server in a paid-for hosting environment comes at a higher cost. But it does mean that a company has much more control over its own resources.

There are a few pitfalls with all the above models. An on-premises data centre means new hardware investment is essential when capacity limits are reached. Scaling and performance can become limited by the installed equipment and upgrading can take considerable time. Also, all maintenance and management are handled by the in-house IT team, which means additional cost. A data centre also represents a single point of control and with upgrades time consuming. This can limit a company’s growth.

With traditional commercial hosting, all options can mean paying for capacity that is unused, especially when web traffic fluctuates. In a shared hosted environment, sudden spikes in web traffic or security breaches that affect any of the other companies using the server can lead to web downtime and availability issues.

What is the benefit of cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting offers many important benefits over the traditional hosting model, not least because there is no single point of failure. Instead of using a centralised single server model, cloud hosting uses a cluster, or network of servers, so if one goes down or is not available, another server will take its place by default.

Cost and flexibility

With cloud hosting, a business need only pay for the resources it uses and does not have to manage its own hardware or pay for unused capacity. A cloud hosting service offers automatic resource provisioning when extra capacity is needed to maintain website performance levels, rather than relying on manual upgrades.


Whether you have a dedicated server or a shared one, using a cloud hosting service means your website will not disappear. Websites and applications are distributed over a network of machines. This eliminates the single-point-of-failure issue of traditional hosting.


A big plus of cloud hosting is scalability. If a company is expecting a traffic increase due to a planned marketing campaign or promotion, it can either make a capacity request for a specific time period or set up automatic scaling when increases in demand are less predictable. Either way it is much easier to ensure websites won’t crash and applications remain available with cloud hosting.

Services and support

The cloud brings access to a wide range of services that can support web applications, including being able to instantly increase compute capacity, having in-built security and having disaster recovery plans. With cloud hosting companies often having data centres in global locations, businesses can also more easily enter new markets and remain compliant with local data laws.

Additional cloud hosting benefits

Better security

The cloud hosting model offers in-built security to support business operations. This applies to several layers of the infrastructure, including physical, network, application and data resources. Additional services include data encryption and isolation, storage and server segregation, firewalls and identity management.

Disaster recovery

With a single server, businesses are far more exposed to failure. Using a cluster of virtual and physical servers over multiple geographic locations means backup and recovery is much faster and can be easily automated. With the large number of files that websites and applications use, this becomes a huge benefit. Your data is your business.

Use the latest technologies

In a traditional on-premises data centre set-up, equipment upgrades can eat into a large portion of a business’s budget. Cloud service providers provide access to the latest state-of-the-art machines and devices. And businesses can easily upgrade elements of the service they use — from CPUs to servers.

Greener and cleaner

Another consideration is just how green cloud hosting can be, especially compared with maintaining your own on-premises equipment. Since cloud data centres use machines at their full capacity and support remote workers, they can affect much better resource utilisation helping to lower emissions.

Cloud options

Cloud hosting delivers multiple options, that are similar in structure to traditional hosting with some key differences.

Public cloud

The lower-cost cloud hosting option is the public cloud, which is broadly similar to the traditional shared model. Instead of a single machine, website or app data is shared over a cluster of virtual machines with resources specifically earmarked. In this model storage, CPU and RAM are dedicated to a specific customer — the only shared element is the rack space in the cloud data centre.

Private cloud

When businesses don’t wish to share resources and want the higher security and more sovereignty over their own data, private cloud hosting is the way to go. This scenario deploys a cloud private server meaning that the virtualised hardware is specific to each customer.

Bare metal cloud

For companies with very high performance and security requirements, a better option for businesses is a bare metal cloud dedicated server. This entirely removes the issue of noisy neighbours and provides cloud-scale performance. The key difference between this option and private or public cloud hosting is in the use of physical and not virtualised hardware resources.

Cloud hosting and OVHcloud Services

OVHcloud provides a range of cloud-based hosting options for all sizes of business. We offer fully supported cloud hosting that allows small, agile businesses to get up and running quickly with a range of public cloud services for web-based applications and entire IT ecosystems.

For larger enterprises, we offer both a Hosted Private Cloud service to drive digital transformation and also offers Bare Metal Cloud services for businesses with high-performance requirements.