Knowledge

What is a Cloud Server?

The world of computing and IT (information technology) can be a confusing one to navigate. Putting the technical aspects aside, the terminology can be frustratingly confusing for the uninitiated. And with acronyms often used, it is even more confusing for those who do not know the terms. Exposure to new technology in the workplace is increasing daily, and knowledge bases are constantly expanding.  But one term that almost everyone recognizes – even if they do not understand the technology behind it – is the cloud. Cloud storage, cloud platforms, cloud computing, cloud environment, all these terms are now part of our language. One term that can still confuse some people though is ‘cloud server’. What exactly is it? How does it work? And what is its place in modern business?

What is a Cloud Server?

A cloud server is a virtual server that runs on a cloud computing platform. It is essentially a software-defined version of a physical server and can be created, configured, and managed using software tools rather than hardware components.

Cloud servers are typically accessed via the internet and used for a high range of applications, such as web servers, databases, file servers, and Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Because they are virtual, cloud servers can be easily created, scaled, and deleted as needed, making them highly adaptable and cost-effective.

cloud server

How does it work?

A cloud server is made possible through virtualization. Management software called a hypervisor is installed on physical servers to connect and virtualize them: abstracting their combined resources and pooling them together to create virtual servers. These virtual resources can then be automated and delivered over the cloud for shared use in a single organization or across multiple organizations.

This approach is known as the Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model. Organizations that employ IaaS don’t have to own and manage their own hardware; they can provision it from third parties that provide resources on demand via a public cloud. A common cloud server example is using a public cloud for temporary, seasonal, or variable workloads that must be scaled up quickly as the need arises.

In some cases, however, cloud servers can also be configured as dedicated servers by a cloud provider. In this setup, sometimes called a bare-metal server, the provider dedicates physical cloud servers to one customer who may have specific performance or storage requirements.

To understand cloud server technology in more detail, read about cloud computing infrastructure and cloud management.

Types of Cloud Servers

An enterprise can choose from several types of cloud servers. Three primary models include the following:

  • Public cloud server. The most common expression of a cloud server is a virtual machine (VM) – or compute “instance” — that a public cloud provider hosts on its own infrastructure and delivers to users across the internet using a web-based interface or console. This model is known as IaaS. Public cloud servers typically use prefabricated instances, which assign a known number of virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and memory.
  • Private cloud server. A cloud server can also be a compute instance within an on-premises private cloud. In this case, an enterprise delivers the cloud server to internal users across a local area network (LAN) and, in some cases, also to external users across the internet. The primary difference between a hosted public cloud server and a private cloud server is that the latter exists within an organization’s own infrastructure, whereas a public cloud server is owned and operated outside of the organization. Private cloud servers can rely on prefabricated instances but also enable users to select a desired amount of vCPU and memory resources to power the instance. Hybrid clouds can include public or private cloud servers.
  • Dedicated cloud server. In addition to virtual cloud servers, cloud providers can supply physical cloud servers, also known as bare-metal servers, which essentially dedicate a cloud provider’s physical server to a user. These dedicated cloud servers – also called dedicated instances — are typically used when an organization must deploy a custom virtualization layer or mitigate the performance and security concerns that often accompany a multi-tenant cloud server.

Why switch to a Cloud Server?

There are several benefits if you decide to switch from a traditional on-site server to a cloud-based server. Your company has to consider how great these benefits are for your model and whether it is worth making the switch.

Cost-effectiveness
The most obvious benefit of switching to a cloud server is that you will save money. From an accounting perspective, you are switching from capital expenditure to the cost of buying, installing, and maintaining a server on-premises. Instead, any costs are switched to operational expenses.  You are also avoiding the potential costs of add-ons and updates, as most of these will come included in any package you sign up to. And, beyond actual savings, with a cloud server package, you tend to get ‘more bang for your buck’. Cloud servers are faster, more stable, and generally more secure. If you compare costs, you will see that a cloud-based server will always provide more resources and faster service compared to the traditional model. If you are running cloud-based websites, they will also run faster than a legacy model. Traditional web hosting may be an important factor to you, even if only running a series of WordPress sites.

Scalability 
Your computing resource needs can change, often at short notice. An on-site single server offers only limited capacity if you need to scale up your usage. Using cloud servers offers almost unlimited scalability in all factors. Need extra computing power for a special project? Find it with a click of a button.

Stability and security
If you are using cloud servers, then you have better stability for any work you are doing. If there is an issue with an app or software in the cloud server, then it is isolated from your internal systems. Your cloud server cannot be affected by other cloud servers, so issues such as another user overloading their server simply do not affect you. And, if you follow good security protocols and install systems that meet industry standards, then your data and information are more secure on a cloud server than on an in-house one.

Integration 
With the variety and diversity of tasks undertaken by so many companies these days, good integration is essential for efficient working. The way your cloud servers are networked means that you have uninterrupted levels of communication and the ability to quickly deploy apps and software as and when they are needed.

cloud server

What is the difference between a Cloud Server and a Traditional Server?

Cloud servers and physical servers have different purposes and provide different project approaches.

As a reminder, you should think of a cloud server as a resource you can use on-demand, or as a terminal that gives you access to cloud services and applications. Its aim is simplicity, providing a fast-use solution (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS).

A traditional physical server, or dedicated server, is allocated to the user. It provides more resources (CPU, RAM, bandwidth, disk space) than a virtual server, and offers you more options. Our bare metal servers can be considered physical servers, although they are a little different from traditional servers. They are hosted in our datacentres rather than on-premises and can be accessed via your Control Panel. You can use them to host your applications, programming, and development environments, online games, and other projects that require high computing power. Our physical servers are a high-availability solution.

How to choose a Cloud Server?

When choosing a cloud server, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Cost: Compare the pricing of different cloud servers to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.
  • Features: Look for a cloud server that offers the features you need, such as scalability, reliability, and security.
  • Reputation: Consider the reputation of the cloud provider, and read reviews from other users to get a sense of their experience.

Conclusion

Moving to cloud servers makes good business sense and often good economic sense. But it is not a decision that should be hurried without careful consideration of all relevant factors. Take plenty of time to go through what your own company’s needs are and what technical and financial factors are most important. It is also worth noting that the benefits of cloud-based working extend to the public sector.  Making the move to multi-cloud systems is something that should be approached with both caution and enthusiasm. Look at all options before making any decision.

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