Virtual Private Server and Cloud Servers are Not Created Equal

Often times virtual private server and cloud server are used interchangeably and during evaluation, they may seem similar. There are some similarities as both are subsets of a larger physical environments and provide virtualized instances. But there are some very distinct features that make both unique products. So before investing in a solution, it is important understand the difference between virtual private server and cloud servers.

Virtual Private Server

A virtual private server (VPS) is one physical server, sliced or divided into smaller servers which each act as their own self-contained instance. Virtual private servers typically cost less, plus no files or data access is shared between VPS clients. Also if you need a VPS rebooted, this can be done without affecting other shared server resources.

But there are some downsides to using a VPS solution, that also need to be considered. Virtual private servers do not offer high-availability; if your physical infrastructure fails so do all of the VPSs on the server.

Other VPS considerations:

  • Limited options for usage or metered billing, typically set as a monthly fee/fixed rate

  • Don’t offer the fluid scalability to scale up and down during peak times; whereas, cloud servers are elastic

  • Storage is set on preconfigured resource definition. Once you reach your capacity, you have to migrate to a larger solution

  • Includes limitations on the operating system as only one can be used by each physical server because kernel space is shared across all VPSs

Cloud Servers

Cloud servers are several servers connected together in a cluster which is backed by a storage area network (SAN). Utilizing a cloud platform, you can benefit from deploying multiple servers, which you will receive unlimited storage, load balancing and augmented bandwidth. Plus cloud servers can be deployed in both a public and private environment.

Cloud servers offer complete flexibility of capacity so you can scale up and down during periods of high demand. Plus cloud servers are based on a utility model, which means you only pay for resources consumed instead of on a fixed monthly rate.

Utilizing cloud servers also provides you with the flexibility to upgrade and patch resource on the fly and sometimes without even rebooting the virtual machines. Each cloud system is fluid and includes high availability and redundancy so therefore cloud servers include this functionality as well.

Cloud server advantages:

  • Includes high availability so if one server fails, it migrates to another physical host without an outage

  • Includes automation technology so you can launch resources with the click of a button through a customized appstore

  • Each end user can select their preferred operating system

  • Shared storage that is based on the storage area network infrastructure

The major disadvantages of cloud servers is that it can be more expensive than VPS. This is due to the fact that you are charged for what you consume and not a monthly set fee. For example, if you are running a video surveillance application your usage and capacity will be higher level than if you were running a simple website.

As you can see each of these solutions have a distinct subset of features. VPS might be the right solution for you if you have a set amount of resource for a fixed monthly fee. Whereas deploying cloud servers provides the flexibility to grow your cloud environment as necessary and only pay for resources consumed. Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between the two, you can make the best decisions based on your business model.