Dedicated or Cloud Servers

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1 100TB.com Dedicated or Cloud Servers which should you choose?

2 Dedicated or cloud servers which should you choose? Introduction For the past few years, the primary focus for much of the hosting industry has been on promoting the advantages of cloud servers. In certain scenarios, being able to rent IT resources such as processing power, bandwidth and storage on demand and to scale these up and down quickly as needed offers customers clear benefits when it comes to boosting their agility and managing IT costs more efficiently. Yet while the cloud is great for certain applications, there are many other cases where the use of dedicated servers would be more appropriate. In this white paper, we ll explore the difference between the two approaches and highlight where and how dedicated servers can not only give you better performance, reliability, control and security, but can be just as attractive as cloud (and often more so) in terms of both flexibility and cost efficiency. We also examine when it s preferable to take one approach over the other, and how you can combine the two to best effect. Defining the differences Cloud servers IT industry marketing departments have bandied the term cloud around rather loosely in recent years, using it to refer to pretty much anything running in an off-premises virtualized environment. So to clarify, when we talk about cloud servers in this white paper, we are talking about virtual machine (VM) instances running in a standard hypervisor environment that s managed and controlled by your hosting provider. Cloud servers are quick and easy to fire up, can readily be scaled up and down, and broadly speaking you pay only for the resources you use (notwithstanding some providers often-confusing pricing and discount structures). This makes cloud servers well-suited to applications with unpredictable peaks and troughs in demand or for the rapid deployment, testing and trialling of new ideas for websites, web apps and other applications where you aren t able (or don t want) to commit significant resources yet. Your VMs sit in a shared, virtualized, hypervisor-controlled environment alongside those of your provider s other customers. Hardware, storage Copyright 100TB.com

3 the performance of individual services running on your machines. and connectivity resources are allocated dynamically among them all. Customers are limited to the standard virtual machine configurations their provider offers including a set choice of operating systems (and versions), standard storage options and so on. Dedicated servers By dedicated servers, we mean physical machines in a third-party provider s datacenter that you buy or rent for your sole, exclusive use along with storage and bandwidth/connectivity. They take longer to set up, configure and scale, and customers need more technical know-how and resources to deploy and manage them effectively (although providers can often tack on management and support services if you want them). Dedicated servers offer you complete control over your environment and you can tailor them precisely to your needs remotely via a Secure Shell (SSH) connection. You are free to deploy non-standard operating systems, your own performance-enhancing tweaks, system-level security measures and whatever other software you want. You can also attach different types of storage to optimize In terms of suitable applications, dedicated servers are ideal where you require high performance (for example, if you re transcoding and transferring a lot of video, or running a constantly-updated, high-traffic news site). Since you re not sharing your hardware or connectivity with any of your provider s other customers, you know the system resources and bandwidth you ve paid for will always be available to you and only you whenever you need them. Dedicated servers are also better if you have a fairly predictable level of demand, since you have no need to pay the premium for instant scalability that cloud servers typically incur (although, as we will explore later, dedicated servers can also be designed to scale pretty effectively see Flexibility, below). Guaranteed high performance The main reason people choose dedicated servers over the cloud is performance. If you re running an application that s hungry for power and/or bandwidth, you want to ensure users don t suffer unacceptable bottlenecks. That means provisioning sufficient resources to guarantee system performance. With dedicated servers you can do just that, safe in the knowledge that no one else will be competing for those resources. You can also ensure your system is configured in the best way to maximize processing speeds and data throughput, using whatever tools you deem fit. The same is not true for cloud servers. For a start, performance will take a hit of about 1-2% due to the resources used by the additional layer of the hypervisor. On its own that might be manageable Copyright 100TB.com

4 for the bulk of applications, but much more problematic is the issue of noisy neighbours - other customers of the provider clogging up shared hardware resources and slowing your systems down. Your cloud provider may have guaranteed you X gigahertz of CPU speed, Y number of processor cores, and Z gigabytes of RAM, but you still have to share CPU caches and I/O (input/output) buses. If another tenant on the same hypervisor is hogging those resources (for example, transcoding lots of video files), then your own system will inevitably take an unwelcome performance hit. Flexibility Both cloud and dedicated servers can give you flexibility. Which you should choose depends on the nature of your workloads, how much you expect demand for your website or service to fluctuate, and precisely what you mean by flexible. If you simply mean you need the ability to flex your computing resources up and down quickly to cope with any dramatic spikes or troughs in demand, then cloud might well be your best option, providing you re not doing anything that s particularly performance-intensive. But if by flexibility you mean ease of customization, then dedicated servers are certainly the way to go. Part of the reason cloud servers can be spun up so quickly is that they re one size fits all - you get what you re given by your provider. Conversely, dedicated servers give you complete flexibility at a granular level. You can fine-tune your system as you see fit, exactly as if it was sitting under your office desk. That means, for example, that it s far easier to migrate an existing application (which may be optimised for an old or non-standard operating system) onto a dedicated server than into the cloud - you can simply lift and shift, along with all the original system software and settings. With a dedicated server, you can also connect whatever type or types of storage you need for different applications and services. That could include, for instance, a mix of hard disks, cloud storage and solid-state drives, tailored to the requirements of the different parts of any application you re running. You might, for example, decide to invest in high-performance storage for a master Copyright 100TB.com

5 database handling lots of transactions, but cloud storage for your web front end. Scalability It s also possible to give your dedicated server the same kind of scalability you d have with the cloud, yet without sacrificing the former s benefits of performance, granular customization and security. The simplest way to do this is to put a hypervisor on a group of dedicated servers and run them as your own private cloud. Equally, though, you could design scalability into the system architecture itself. For example, you might build a system with multiple web servers, where if you run out of bandwidth on a single server, or exhaust your processing power or memory, you can scale horizontally behind a load balancer, adding larger or smaller servers as required. Alternatively, you could implement a modular architecture that slices databases, applications, et cetera by server, assigning different functions to different servers according to the demands of particular workloads. For instance, if you were running campaigns with multiple clients you could design the architecture so you had a master database that holds all records, plus a series of sub-databases that sync back into the master database but which have their own nodes and can easily be split onto new servers if particular clients grow large enough. In other circumstances, you might decide to use dedicated and cloud servers in tandem in order to build the most efficient services and solutions. Security Given the increasing frequency of high-profile data security breaches, and the fact many organizations face increasingly stringent compliance requirements that specify how and where certain types of information can be stored, cloud servers simply won t be suitable for some applications. Generally speaking, you don t know where your cloud data is physically stored and you have to trust your provider has adequate measures in place to protect it against external attack. Only with a dedicated server can you put in place all the necessary measures to ensure sensitive information and systems are appropriately protected in line with your organization s policies and/or the demands of external auditors. In addition, while most people focus on preventing external intruders from breaking through perimeter defences, cloud presents the additional risk that systems could become vulnerable to a breach from inside a multi-tenant cloud. For example, hypervisor security holes could lead to all virtual machines in a cloud becoming vulnerable to attack. Indeed, when one such hole came to light in the popular Xen hypervisor in 2014, providers had no option but to take customers VMs Copyright 100TB.com

6 offline for several hours to patch the hypervisor, resulting in potentially damaging downtime for customers. If you were running a hypervisor on a dedicated server, you d still need to take systems down to apply a patch in such situations, but at least you wouldn t need to worry about any sensitive information being compromised since your organization wouldn t be sharing that hypervisor with any other tenants. Cost efficiency Of course, one of the most frequently touted benefits of cloud servers is their cost efficiency. Because you are able to spin up and scale resources quickly and easily, the argument runs, you only pay for what you need ergo, you are not wasting money by allocating hardware resources that will only be needed during spikes in demand and will otherwise sit there unused. While this may seem on the surface like a compelling and commonsense conclusion, it is only true up to a point. Where demand for an application or website is highly unpredictable, and where high performance is not critical, there s no doubt cloud servers can be a cost-effective option. (As we mentioned earlier, they re great for basic websites and trying out new stuff, for example.) However, cloud server setups can grow very complicated, very quickly. It s common to find you reach a point where you ve spun up so many VMs, and tacked on so many additional bits and pieces, that you re no longer sure exactly what you re paying for and whether you really still need all of it. Given that you pay a premium for cloud s convenience, it may well be that switching to dedicated servers for all or part of your infrastructure would be considerably more cost-effective. For example, one of our customers was previously paying around $40,000 a month to Amazon Web Services, yet by switching to dedicated servers was able to reduce that bill by almost 40% to $25,000, while increasing performance in the process. It is also worth noting that the longer you leave it, the more complex and costly it can become to make the switch. Deploying ever more cloud services can be a bit like boiling a pan of spaghetti - the strands may be straight and easy to separate at first, but they soon become so intricately intertwined that it would be very difficult to untangle them and fit them back in the packet. (Fortunately, with spaghetti, you wouldn t want to. But with your cloud applications, you might well do.) Provider selection Whether you re sourcing cloud or dedicated servers (or both), it s important to select a provider Copyright 100TB.com

7 that can guarantee you the levels of performance, flexibility and security that you require. And, as with any provider of services critical to your business, you need to be sure anyone you contract is stable and trustworthy. The sort of questions you need to be asking is whether they have a datacenter infrastructure that s capable of delivering consistent performance across all the markets and regions where you do business; a proven track record delivering servers to similar-sized organizations as yours; and whether they can show relevant certifications, accreditations and testimonials that prove they can offer the levels of service you need. Is their pricing structure clear and unambiguous? Are their staff friendly, flexible and helpful? After all, you ll want to be confident that if any difficulties arise they will be approachable, responsive and efficient. Ideally, seek out providers that offer both cloud and dedicated servers, since they won t have a vested interest in steering you towards one option over the other and should be able to offer helpful and impartial advice on how to mix-and-match the two to best effect. Conclusion While cloud servers are undoubtedly a valuable addition to IT s armoury, they are not the universal panacea that much of the hype would have you believe. Indeed, where you require guaranteed high performance, resilience, reliability, control and/or security or where you don t have a wildly fluctuating demand for your application or service then dedicated servers should generally be your default choice. Providing you have the technical know-how to set up and manage them yourself, they will also give you considerably more bang for your buck. At 100TB, our experts will be happy to talk through your requirements in more detail and help you find the best solution for your individual needs. As a provider of both dedicated and cloud servers (as well as a global content delivery network), we are solution neutral and strive to ensure our clients select the most appropriate products and services to tackle their current (and future) challenges. We also offer a fast, dependable network based on the latest hardware, a choice of 18 datacenter locations, 24x7 support and much more. To find out more, visit https://www.100tb.com/why-100tb/ or call us on Copyright 100TB.com

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