What is a virtual server? What is "the cloud"? What is VPS hosting? Do all these terms mean the same thing? We understand that you may feel confused, so, in this article, we will explain what these terms mean.
The terms VPS, virtual servers, virtual machines and many others have been coined by the web hosting industry and referenced in the media for many years now. But are they any different? Not really. The truth is, they are all about the same.
As far as the term "the cloud" is concerned, it is really just a new name for something that is as old as the Internet. You could say that the cloud is the Internet itself. It is something remote that you can access via the Internet. It means that the data, files and software you use and access daily are stored on a server at a special remote location, known as a data center, rather than such data or software being stored on your computer's hard drive or a server in your office.
Let’s use email as an example. Ever since we started using Hotmail back in the 90s, you’ve been using the cloud. Why? Because your email messages weren't sitting on a server in your office. Neither was your desktop computer handling the intricacies of communicating with other email servers in order to exchange messages. It was Hotmail that did that. All you had to do was to log in on a web page and access all your email messages.
In recent years, there has been a trend to move everything off to the cloud. Instead of setting up a shared data storage server, we can now use Dropbox for that. Instead of installing Quickbooks on our desktop computer, we now use accounting software such as FreshBooks or QuickBooks Online.
But what do companies need in order to run the online services that we now use every day? Decades ago, they needed to purchase servers and set them up in a data center or a server colocation facility. This was expensive. Then, the industry of leasing servers came to be and server leasing companies (also referred to as web hosting companies) appeared. Companies such as ServerPoint.com, became known as dedicated hosting providers. Big, innovative websites like Houzz.com used ServerPoint.com’s services to host on hundreds of dedicated servers to run their website operations.
In the last ten years, a new technology, which became known as server virtualization, has arisen. What virtualization technology does is basically fools an operating system to think that it’s running in a physical server, just like your Windows 10 or Mac OSX is running in your computer. A virtual server does not know that the same physical server is also hosting many other operating systems, be that Linux, Windows or both.
A server running virtualization software is called a hypervisor. At ColossusCloud, a brand of ServerPoint.com, we have been managing hundreds of hypervisors each running dozens of individual operating systems. When you deploy a virtual server using ColossusCloud’s service, our software chooses a hypervisor from the vast pool that we have and instructs it to create a virtual server, just for you. It can be a Windows or a Linux-based server.
So, which term is the most accurate? The truth is, both "virtual server" and "virtual machine" are correct. VPS, which stands for a Virtual Private Server, is the term mostly used in the web hosting industry. So, "VPS Hosting" became the common term to use.
"Cloud VPS" is a new term. It is differentiated by the fact that you can customize your server with any disk space, CPU or memory specifications you want. And you also have the ability to pay by the hour, allowing you to deploy and remove virtual servers whenever you want.
We hope that this article has shed light on the somewhat confusing terminology relating to virtual servers and the cloud. As you can see, the terms VPS hosting, virtual servers, virtual machines, cloud VPS, VDS (virtual dedicated server) and others are all the terms that refer to server virtualization technology.