The invention of cloud computing brought about a revolution in storage and velocity, empowering the relentless growth of the digital age. Its three main characteristics – availability, scalability and redundancy enabled it to become an extremely successful model for providing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) over the Internet. The key players in the cloud computing market were – Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM. (Can you guess their respective product names?)
The sheer magnitude of cloud computing makes it a difficult task to compress its significance in a single paragraph (or even a page). There are hundreds of papers and articles which discuss cloud computing in much greater depth (heck ,we’ve even talked about backing up your WordPress site to the cloud). If you’d like to know more about cloud computing, I suggest you start from Wikipedia.
The branch of cloud computing which deals with web hosting has many names. For simplicity, let’s call it “cloud hosting”. Welcome to a brand new post series based on cloud hosting. In this series you’ll learn:
- What cloud computing is all about and it’s key benefits AND
- Installing WordPress on the cloud across various cloud hosting providers
Key Benefits of Cloud Hosting
By harnessing the power of the cloud, customers no longer needed to depend on a single server to host their website. Cloud hosting changed the face of the hosting industry through three key components. Let’s discuss the three main characteristics of cloud computing with special reference to cloud hosting.
The cloud provided availability through redundancy. In simpler terms, your data and website was copied (or replicated) onto multiple servers. If one of them went down, the data would be served from another. In hosting terms, this meant almost 100% uptime. The higher you were willing to pay, lower the chances of failure.
Consider a situation where you were expecting a traffic spike (say a promotional event, etc.) and you needed a lot of extra server resources for a day or two. Traditional hosting companies would have to charge you a significant amount owing to the fact that they needed to allocate new resources for you. If your requirement was more than what your current host could provide, you’d have to go through the hassle of transferring to a more powerful resource such as a VPS or a dedicated server.
There’s another aspect to it as well. In most cases, you’d have to rent the new resources for a minimum period – say a month at least. But once the promotion was over, traffic would fall back to normal and you’d have to pay for unused resources. That’s like throwing money away. Cloud computing changed all that. It enabled hosting providers to introduce a new type of model –
This truly brought about a revolution. We could scale up our server for a period of time, and scale it down once the need was over. On other words – dynamic scaling was a possibility.
Taking our previous example, we could actually scale up our server equipping it with larger resources enough to tackle the additional load, and just as the traffic was over, we could downgrade them. We only needed to pay for the time we actually used the resources. Cloud computing erased the need to shift web hosts or rent resources for minimum amount of time. This enabled massive savings for customers and added benefits for hosting providers.
3. Load Balancing
The basic idea of load balancing was to dynamically increase the allocated resources of a server in order to tackle additional load. It used the same principle of dynamic scaling. Some cloud hosting companies offered automated dynamic load balancing. Even if your server wasn’t equipped to handle large volumes of traffic, the controller would automatically allocate enough resources to handle the additional traffic. Your site wouldn’t go down.
Realtime Example – WPEngine
A familiar example for us WordPress users would be managed WordPress hosting. Consider WPEngine – its plans are based on the number of daily page views. In the event of a traffic spike, your site would not go down. WPEngine would use load balancing to scale up your server and serve your visitors with unhindered performance. In the next billing period, you’d have to pay an additional amount for the traffic spike.
In this post series we’ll discuss how to install WordPress in the major cloud providers. We’ll start with one of my favourite cloud hosting companies – DigitalOcean. Later, we’ll move on to advanced topics such as how to install WordPress on Amazon AWS and other industry standard cloud providers.
If you have any questions on cloud computing, or cloud hosting in general, we’re all ears. You can also directly ask me on Twitter @souravify and I’ll be happy to answers your question. Here’s to an exciting journey – let’s get started!