So, your website is humming along getting 1,000 hits a day on a shared hosting server when Boing Boing links to you. Suddenly you’re getting 5,000 hits an hour. Fantastic, you think. But wait, the site is really sluggish and you can’t even post to it. Then your web host sends you a grumpy email saying you’ve exceeded your bandwidth limits and has temporarily suspended your account. Oh no! All those wonderful incoming hits will never see your website. Aargh.
This can and does happen often on traditional shared hosting websites. But with cloud website hosting, the system automatically scales to meet big traffic spikes. Your website stays up and responds snappily to all that wonderful incoming traffic from Boing Boing. Your AdSense revenue for the day is 10x the normal amount. W00t!
With traditional web hosting, most of the time you will have a shared hosting account. Your website is installed on a server with dozens, maybe hundreds of other websites. That big spike in traffic from Boing Boing slows down all the sites on the server, not just yours. The web host really has no choice, they have to suspend your site so the other sites can return to functioning normally.
The next step up from that is a dedicated server. It’s yours, and no one else is on it. But as with shared hosting, traffic spikes can slow it down. Plus, it’s just one server and one hard disk. If equipment malfunctions, your website is down.
Cloud hosting has redundant hard disks and computers. It spreads the software and data around into, well, a cloud. If one piece of equipment fails, the system simply routes around it. If suddenly there are 500 simultaneous users on the site and not the normal 5, the cloud simply makes more computing cycles and bandwidth available. Your website stays up.
Politics in the Zeros is hosted by Laughing Squid, who hosts everything in the Rackspace Cloud. I’ve used multiple hosts in the past and Rackspace has absolutely been the most reliable. I can’t remember when there’s been downtime. (Laughing Squid has excellent tech support and provides web hosting for the smaller accounts that Rackspace doesn’t handle.) If Polizeros gets a huge traffic spike, the cloud simply allocate more resources to meet the load. I might go into a higher pricing tier (the tiers are in $4 a month increments) but hey, that’s about the price of a frappuccino at Starbucks.
If your websites aren’t already in the cloud, you might consider doing so. The advantages are obvious and many.