When you’re just about to start your business and need to put a website up online, it’s likely that you’d pick the cheapest hosting plan available, where you’d be sharing resources of a single server with dozens (and sometimes even hundreds) of other companies.
Soon enough, however, when your business and web traffic start to grow, you’ll realize that you’re tapping at the ceiling of what’s possible to do with shared hosting. You might want the ability to handle spikes in traffic better and be sure that your website won’t get shut down by your provider for overloading the server. Or you just might be looking for more flexibility and functionality that would require root access to the server, for example.
The Difference Between Dedicated vs. Cloud Servers
It’s important to note that both dedicated and cloud servers have their pros and cons, and neither is perfect for all use cases, which in turn makes it quite valuable to understand their differences and how choosing either will succeed in meeting your company’s needs.
Dedicated servers are exactly what they sound like — a dedicated hardware setup hosted in a data center, configured specifically to your needs and utilized only by your company.
Cloud servers are virtualized environments served from a distributed server infrastructure platform, which makes them highly scalable and flexible when it comes to pricing but also offers fewer tailored options.
Let’s compare the most important features of dedicated and cloud servers side by side.
When you choose a dedicated server, you get to build all of its components from scratch, which means you can choose any operating system, any processor, as much RAM and storage as you need, and get enough bandwidth to minimize any potential delays.
Cloud servers, on the other hand, are part of the existing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform, which makes them highly scalable but allows for less customization. You can still select you RAM, CPU and even an operating system, but the choice is somewhat limited to a wide range of pre-packaged templates.
Both cloud and dedicated servers can be incredibly powerful and blazing fast, so speed is almost never a decisive factor between the two — it all comes down to the specific configurations you choose to run on your server.
However, when every single millisecond counts, dedicated servers might come out ahead as they don’t distribute their resources.
When it comes to cloud servers, you choose the type of pre-configured instances you’d like to use, which then can be scaled up or down depending on your needs.
Dedicated servers are able to handle large amounts of traffic right from the get-go but are less flexible when it comes to scalability, since they require more time for extra installations and hardware configurations.
With a dedicated server, you choose your hardware and operating system, and then pay the same amount every month, regardless of usage.
Cloud servers have more of a service-based approach where you pay for the exact amount of resources utilized: less in slow months and more during the busy season.
Both dedicated and cloud servers are highly reliable and chances are you’ll never encounter any significant availability issues, with the best providers guaranteeing 99.9%+ of network uptime.
In the rare case of an unexpected incident (such as hardware failure), even with RAID configurations, it would take some time to restore availability on a dedicated server. When the same happens to a cloud machine, it’s able to seamlessly switch to another server without any downtime.
As you’re the only user of your dedicated server, you’re in complete control over its security. Most hosting companies would also assist you with managing DDoS attacks and other potential issues, as well as ensure that physical access to their data center is properly secured.
When it comes to cloud servers, you’re technically sharing the same hardware with other companies, but your environment is virtualized and separated by software. While there’s a potential for a theoretical vulnerability at the hardware level in this case, it’s not a practical concern for most companies, unless you’re running something as regulated as an online bank or a cryptocurrency exchange.
Is a Dedicated or Cloud Server Right for Your Business?
As you can see, both dedicated and cloud server options can be a good choice for certain companies. In general, if you have a stable business where you require a set amount of resources every month or face certain regulatory requirements, you might be better off with a dedicated server.
Fast-growing startups or businesses that face seasonality in their resource utilization (variable workloads) in turn might want to look at easily scalable cloud server options instead, where they would only pay for what they use.
Have you decided on which type of server fits your needs best? Do you have any specific questions as to which instance you should pick or which operating system to get? Then don’t hesitate to reach out to our award-winning M5 tech support today, and we’ll be happy to guide you through everything you need to get your dedicated or cloud server up and running.