Cloud Vs Dedicated Hosting – Part 4: Security

Having compared cloud with traditional dedicated hosting solutions on their respective costs and performance issues in the preceding posts in this series, the final instalment provides further analysis of the two in regard to security issues.

Security

For many private and enterprise customers, security is the primary area of concern when making the switch from traditional localised computing to cloud computing solutions, particularly when it comes to the topic of hosting. Businesses that require high levels of security to be applied to their hosting platforms have traditionally flocked to dedicated hosting solutions, to avoid the vulnerabilities introduced by sharing servers with other companies or business functions. These enterprise customers have since been somewhat reticent to make the switch to cloud (despite the efficiencies mentioned previously).

Dedicated Server Security

Dedicated servers have, by design, features which are conducive to high levels of security in that they are individual platforms on discrete servers which are operated for single purposes – i.e., they do not share disk space or computing power with other services or businesses. This distinction leads to a number of security benefits in terms of both protecting access to hosted data and the preservation of that data. To achieve these twin aims, the risk of hackers or malware accessing the data and/or corrupting it is minimised; by not having any other functions/companies sharing the hosting platform it reduces the number of possible points of entry/access and therefore the number of security vulnerabilities on the server. What’s more, a business sharing a host server would have no control over the effectiveness of the measures taken to secure these vulnerabilities if they are sharing the server with third party businesses. The dedicated model also removes the competing demands placed on the physical computing capabilities of the server by other hosting platforms/solutions stacks/businesses’ IT projects, meaning that there is less risk of server or network failures leading to the unavailability or loss of data.

Cloud Hosting Security

Cloud Hosting platforms therefore need to re-address these issues as they fundamentally rely on the concept of shared or pooled computing resource. Public cloud models will struggle to offer the same protection as a dedicated platform because they not only share physical hosting infrastructure across multiple virtualised hosting platforms for disparate customers, but have further vulnerabilities in that the access points to such services are across public networks – in other words anyone can ‘knock on the door’ and any information being transferred between access point and server is at risk of being intercepted. Furthermore, one organisation who is a consumer of the service has no influence or control over the trustworthiness of others who may have signed up to share these pooled resources.

The answer to dedicated platforms for cloud computing is the private cloud. This model relies on the concept of ring-fencing a pool of computing resources for the use of a single organisation to eliminate the vulnerabilities of sharing. The concept has a variety of ways in which it can be physically implemented but where it involves a physically distinct pool of servers it can remove the aforementioned risks of sharing with third parties. In addition the use of a physically distinct line for access or on-site location of the servers can negate the risks of data being intercepted in transit or of unwanted access to the platform. However, by implementing measures such as these, organisations eliminate many of the economies of scale that make the cloud so attractive in the first place. Consequently, private clouds are often created using virtualisation to create ring fenced virtual networks of servers and secured access to those with technologies such as MPLS and VPN. These virtualised private clouds are becoming more and more secure and whilst they may not quite rival the physical independence of dedicated servers of localised private clouds there is a determination in the industry to close the gap and allow enterprise to benefit from the cost efficiencies and scalability benefits of cloud hosting without compromising on their security.

Cloud Hosting Vs Regular Hosting

In an era of budgeting, most organizations out there are looking for efficient ways to save their precious dollars. Because investment on web hosting package is a long term deal, small as well as large businesses don’t like to spend too much on web hosting packages. The fact that web business is evolving constantly, most web owners are looking beyond the conventional means to host their website, and in the process seek better service and also save some money. Talking about new age technology, cloud hosting seems to be an emerging trend that has garnered great interest from the masses. Needless to say, a quick comparison between cloud hosting and other traditional hosting packages out there will give out a clear picture about the pros and cons of each hosting package.

Shared hosting is often the first choice among web owners who are on a tight budget. Basically, it’s a low entry hosting solution. The reason why shared hosting is more affordable than other hosting packages is because the server resources such as CPU, bandwidth, Memory etc are shared by multiple users. Needless to say, it can make way for unwanted troubles such as downtime and slow speed due to server overload. Although cloud server may not be accessible at a price at which you can avail shared hosting, cloud servers set up are reasonably priced as well. Websites that are hosted on cloud servers run on numerous connected servers, which imply that one doesn’t have to rely on a single server to keep the website running. Therefore, one doesn’t have to worry about website shutdown or server downtime.

More than often, the next logical choice after shared hosting is VPS. With increase in traffic, most web owners choose to upgrade to VPS hosting. Just like cloud hosting, VPS makes use of virtualization technology. This enables VPS users to host their websites on multiple servers. However, VPS servers are found to be less efficient because VPS users are allocated certain amount of resources that cannot be rerouted to others, which implies that one user might be enjoying numerous resources for free, while another user might be overloaded. This is not the case with cloud hosting, which is why cloud hosting finds an upper edge over VPS.

Dedicated server is often considered as a better pick over shared hosting and VPS. However, dedicated hosting involves an initial set-up fee and one year contract. In some cases, users may have to commit for a higher contract period. On the other hand, one doesn’t have to bear a high cost with cloud hosting. Also, most providers don’t stress too much on minimal contractual terms. Switching server is also a daunting task with dedicated hosting, whereas cloud hosting enables server switch with great ease, thereby ensuring maximum uptime at low cost. Not to forget the fact that cloud hosting users are also blessed with easy to use control panel and other features, and there are not set-up charges for cloud hosting.