Choosing the right hosting solution is a complex and critical decision for your business. We present two diagrams to guide you in this decision-making process. The first diagram outlines the hosting provider’s responsibility versus the customer’s responsibility. The second one is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the different web hosting solutions.
Different web hosting solutions are available. We divide them into the following categories:
- Shared web servers
- Virtual private servers (VPS)
- Dedicated web servers
- Homemade web hosting
Division of responsibilities
The first table below illustrates the division of responsibilities for all five web hosting solutions. The end-user layer represents the interaction between your web solution and your visitors. In all cases, you are directly responsible toward your web solution users. The application layer encompass the operating system and the application stack. Unless you are using an homemade or a colocation solution, the hosting provider will share some responsibilities with you in this aspect. The device and network layers represent the physical server and networking hardware respectively. Finally, the data center layer encompass the electricity, cooling, access control and fire protection of the hardware equipment.
Strengths and weaknesses
This second table is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the different web hosting solutions.
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. It is available at low cost but will offer low performance since resource allocation is minimal. Uptime is also below average and scalability is not available.
A virtual private server (VPS) 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 and will determine its cost. Uptime and scalability are generally good.
A dedicated web server gives you the complete resource ownership of a physical server. The cost of a dedicated server is high especially for low-end servers compared to VPS offerings. Uptime is generally good and scalability is excellent with such a solution.
Building your web solution with your own equipment and network connectivity could save you a lot of money on the long term. While uptime may be lacking since your infrastructure is likely less sophisticated than the one offered by web hosting companies, resource allocation and scalability are excellent.
The colocation option is the intermediate solution between a dedicated web server and an homemade solution. The cost is high but resource allocation, uptime and scalability are excellent.
Reference: Charles Hotchkin (RackSpace), Managed Colocation