Storing large amounts of data is more critical than ever, and cloud servers are a great, easy-to-use solution – however, they come with pros and cons. Today, we’ll look at what a cloud server is and how it helps with data storage.
What is a server on the cloud?
Definition and overview of cloud computing
Cloud computing delivers computing resources and services – including servers, storage, software, analytics, and databases – over a cloud.
Cloud servers are shared, centralized virtual servers delivered over a network – usually via an Internet connection – and can be accessed on demand by multiple users. They are hosted by third-party cloud providers responsible for keeping user data safe.
Like physical servers, a server on the cloud exists to store data and run applications. However, cloud servers are created using a hypervisor (a type of virtualization software) to split physical servers into multiple virtual servers.
These private cloud servers store separate sets of data, which means that multiple users can share a single server without ever interloping or being at risk of viewing data that’s not their own.
Types of cloud computing services
The suitable cloud computing model will vary depending on a business or organization’s use case, budget, and priorities. There are three main types of cloud computing services.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS provides the fundamental software and hardware tools for cloud IT, typically including networking features and data storage space. A cloud infrastructure ensures the highest level of flexibility over your server resources and complete control (compared to the services of a third-party provider), considering that you have the technical capabilities to utilize the given tools.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS removes the need for managing infrastructure like hardware and operating systems. Platforms allow you to deploy, manage, and access data and applications without worrying about technical aspects like resource management, capacity planning, or software maintenance.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS provides a complete package of cloud computing services managed and run by a cloud provider. It means that your only interaction with the software is using it instead of concerning yourself with how the cloud computing environment itself works.
An example of SaaS designed to deliver computing resources is a hosting provider that ensures cloud storage for your website’s data.
Differences between cloud-based and traditional servers
Traditionally, data is stored on a physical server. Essentially, this requires dedicated servers to be developed specifically for the goals and scale of an organization, business, or project.
First of all, traditional servers are typically located on-premises, which severely limits accessibility, while cloud servers can be accessed remotely. It presents a significant advantage in favor of cloud deployment models both in terms of price and flexibility.
Since cloud servers can be compartmentalized (split into multiple servers that can be used by a number of users remotely), they can be much more space-efficient than traditional alternatives. A user will only use as many storage resources and as much space as needed, with the option to increase bandwidth, saving processing power in the process.
Due to a cloud environment’s dynamic scaling and cost structure, cloud-based solutions involve a lower initial capital requirement whilst still not stifling potential growth.
Finally, a critical difference between traditional and public cloud servers is how they’re managed. Depending on the types of cloud services an organization enlists, data management and maintenance can be significantly easier since a third party is responsible for the upkeep of the infrastructure.
How does a server on the cloud work?
Let’s review in detail exactly how cloud computing works by exploring its key features and aspects relevant to an organization or entity that uses it.
Virtualization and resource pooling
The concept of virtualization is what makes cloud servers work. Virtualization allows a physical server to be split into multiple VMs (virtual machines). Every virtual machine runs its own operating system and programs, enabling the dynamic allocation of processing power and storage space according to the needs of each individual VM.
This dynamic allocation of resources is also known as resource pooling. Resource pooling is a critical part of cloud computing as it allows users to utilize resources from a shared data center efficiently. Workloads are distributed optimally among other cloud servers because users only take as much processing power, memory, and storage space as they currently need.
Elasticity and scalability
Cloud servers are very scalable because of the elastic bandwidth provided by resource pooling. A user doesn’t have to invest in a fixed storage solution, as the physical cloud servers can adjust based on demand and variable workloads – as workloads increase, additional resources can be provided to the user for better performance.
Pay-per-use pricing model
The pay-per-use pricing model goes in parallel with the scalability of cloud computing.
Usually, a physical server comes with a fixed disk space and price, often requiring a significant initial investment – not only upfront, but in time as well, due to the user being charged based on the resources used (regardless of how much of it is productive).
A pay-per-use pricing model is much more resource-efficient. Users maintain the same capabilities but are now able to pay fees that are proportional to the demand for resources. It is extremely useful, especially for small and medium businesses that require cost-effective means of experimentation and growth.
High availability and redundancy
Redundancy, in the context of cloud computing, encompasses the practice of replicating data and sharing it onto multiple physical servers as a disaster recovery method. If one data center experiences a power outage or hardware error, users can still access their data and cloud services because they live in a cloud.
Benefits of using a server on the cloud
As an alternative to traditional bare metal server technology, cloud servers are an exceptional option – here are some of their many benefits.
Reduced capital expenditures and maintenance costs
As the amount of resources a user employs scales depending on the necessary workload, upfront and maintenance costs are significantly lower, allowing you to save money both in the short and long term.
Increased flexibility and scalability
Even if you make your way from a small to a large business, you can efficiently utilize the services of the same cloud server. As your processing and storage requirements grow, so can the bandwidth of your cloud computing service of choice.
Improved reliability and uptime
Cloud servers don’t depend on a single device to provide sensitive data and applications. Due to the presence of redundancy, you can be sure that mission-critical workloads are always available as long as you have an Internet connection.
Simplified disaster recovery and backup
With the reliability and omnipresent availability of cloud storage and the backup power practice that is usually put in place to prevent unexpected outages, cloud servers are incredibly reliable in disaster aversion. And since your data exists across multiple cloud server instances, your data can be easily backed up.
Better performance and speed
With cloud storage, you can expend fast processing times because of the dynamic allocation of resources. Essentially, since users only use as many resources as they currently need, the performance is optimized.
Enhanced security and compliance
With most cloud storage providers, security measures are top-notch – they include constant physical security, sophisticated data encryption mechanisms, and compliance certifications. Despite being a third-party service, many organizations prefer outsourcing their server needs simply because establishing rigorous security measures for a physical service can be very difficult.
Use cases and examples of servers on the cloud
Due to their dynamic and reliable nature, cloud servers are highly flexible regarding practical use. Here are some of their many use cases.
Web and application hosting
Cloud servers are generally the go-to solution for hosting websites and applications.
On the one hand, the scalability of cloud computing is extremely useful for growing online platforms with uncertain traffic expectations. On the other, since some cloud server providers spread out their physical servers geographically, websites and apps can maintain a high performance globally.
Most websites and apps nowadays are run by small companies or individual entrepreneurs. An affordable solution, like a virtual cloud space, is usually more adequate than setting up an on-premises physical server.
Disaster recovery and backup
The data stored in cloud servers is replicated in real time, allowing for a more reliable safety infrastructure. In case of an on-premises malfunction or software failure, users can quickly (and affordably) recover earlier versions of their website, app, or database.
That, on top of the breach prevention measures available for cloud servers, constitutes a significant competitive advantage for cloud providers in terms of security.
E-commerce and online marketplaces
In e-commerce, public and private clouds play a crucial role in maintaining solid performance even during unusual traffic and engagement periods.
Cloud servers help in the following cases:
- Scaling: Seasonal offers or specific marketing campaigns might attract unusual levels of traffic to an e-commerce website. Cloud servers are able to scale accordingly and provide the necessary resources without compromising performance or causing unexpected website malfunctions.
- Global Presence: A website that uses a cloud server will have no problems operating internationally by taking advantage of regional servers. That is precisely why many businesses looking to expand and localize their website choose to transition to a cloud server.
- Safety Compliance: The inherent models of security in cloud computing allow for excellent compliance with security regulations, especially when it comes to keeping customer data safe.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a server on the cloud?
A cloud server is a virtual storage space or computing resource hosted by a cloud service provider and accessible over the Internet.
What are the risks of using cloud servers?
One of the main risks of cloud servers is the potential of vendor lock-in – being forced to work with a provider because of an impractical migration process.
What are the main use cases for servers on the cloud?
The prominent use cases for cloud servers are website hosting, application hosting, and general data storage.