Choosing the adequate solution for your web hosting needs is a complex problem. Traditionally, individuals and enterprises had different needs for their web hosting solution. While enterprise-class web hosting required the use of a database to provide dynamic content and store customer information, a single page hosting was sufficient for a personal web page. However, databases are now a requirement to provide rich and dynamic content for personal pages. The convergence of individual and enterprise needs for database driven web content leads to the democratization of higher-end web hosting solutions.
Different web hosting solutions are available. We divide them into five categories:
- Shared web servers
- Virtual private servers (VPS)
- Dedicated web servers
- Homemade web hosting
A shared web server is generally a slice of a physical server along with a control panel to simplify the management of your web solution. The actual physical server is connected to the Internet with a fixed bandwidth capacity. The available resources of the physical server (CPU, memory, disk IO, bandwidth) are shared between the different hosts. The ratio of resources allocation between the hosts is fluctuating according to the physical server offering and hosts demand.
Cloud computing offers virtual private servers delivered in a timely fashion. A virtual private server is similar to a shared web server since it is sitting on an actual physical server. However, most of the allocated resources of the VPS are determined at purchase time. The number of dedicated CPU, the size of the host memory and its bandwidth are fixed parameters. However, disk IO is generally shared between hosts according to offer and demand.
A dedicated web server gives you the complete resource ownership of a physical server. The CPU, memory and disk IO characteristics of your web servers are directly related to your choice of hardware at purchase time. Your bandwidth with the Internet can fluctuate if you choose to connect your server on a shared public switch. The use of a dedicated public switch solves this possible issue.
While shared, dedicated and virtual private servers are available from web hosting companies, homemade web hosting is a viable alternative. However, building your web solution with your own equipment and network connectivity requires a lot more time. On the long term, you may save a lot of money though.
Finally, the colocation option is the intermediate solution between a dedicated web server and an homemade solution. Your own equipment resides on a web hosting environment providing you with electricity, cooling, rack space and physical security for your hardware.
Several technologies were developed to increase the resilience, performance and availability of web solutions. Here is partial list of those technologies: