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Cloud servers explained

Cloud servers are virtual servers running in a cloud computing environment. They can be used for storage or processing power. For example, cloud servers can host complex applications and websites, run large-scale data analyses, support machine learning models, or provide the infrastructure for streaming services. Here’s what you should know about cloud servers.

Cloud servers explained

What is a cloud server?

Cloud server definition

A cloud server is a computer used as a virtual server that multiple users can access remotely at the same time. Cloud servers can simply be used for storage, but they can also provide processing power and be used for various services such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and backup as a service (BaaS). Cloud servers are like physical servers that you don’t have to maintain. But this way, you also delegate security and privacy to a third party.

How does a cloud server work?

A cloud server works by providing resources such as storage or computing power via the network. First, physical servers must be equipped with appropriate hardware, turned into virtual servers capable of each running its own operating system, and then connecting these servers to the internet.

Now, you can install various services and platforms the users can connect to, such as storage for backup or a photo management service. Users get their share of the virtual server resources (like CPU, memory, and storage) and can use the services through a web interface or API.

One of the main benefits of a cloud server is that it can scale up or down based on the users’ needs. They can request more or fewer resources, and the system adjusts seamlessly.

What are the differences between a cloud server and a physical server?

Cloud servers and physical, or traditional, servers differ in several major ways but the main difference is that a physical server can only be accessed through a local network or through a VPN. Here are how they differ:

Cloud serverPhysical server
LocationHosted remotely from data centers.Located on-premises or in a company-managed data center.
OwnershipOwned and maintained by cloud service providers.Owned and maintained by the organization.
MaintenanceMaintained by the service provider.Requires direct maintenance by the organization.
AccessibilityAccessible over the internet from anywhere.Typically accessed through a local network or via a VPN.
ScalabilityVirtually unlimited capacity.Limited and requires physical hardware changes.
CostOften operates on a pay-as-you-go model. Lower upfront costs.Higher upfront costs for hardware, maintenance, and energy.
ControlUsers control the software and data but have less control over hardware.Full control over both hardware and software.
SetupNo physical hardware setup is required by the user.Requires time and expertise for physical setup and configuration.
Networking capabilitiesCloud networking enables creating and management of virtual networks, enhancing connectivity and integration of resources across various cloud services.Limited to the physical network infrastructure and requires manual configuration and management.
Database managementCloud databases offer scalable, managed database services with automated backups and recovery.Database management requires manual setup and maintenance. It often lacks backup and recovery features.

Types of cloud servers

Here are the most common cloud server types:

Public cloud server

In a public cloud server, the service provider shares their resources with companies and individual users. If you use iCloud or Google Photos, your media is stored in a public cloud server. Because public cloud infrastructure can be used by multiple users and organizations, it’s a cost-effective and flexible solution for most users.

Private cloud server

A private cloud server can be hosted at the company or somewhere remote, like a data center, but the key difference is that resources are not shared even if you’re using a fraction of the allocated computing power or your private cloud storage. Of course, it’s not cheap. Remember, sharing public cloud storage is what allows third-party server providers to save costs.

Hybrid cloud server

As the name suggests, hybrid cloud storage combines the benefits of both public and private cloud servers. In this approach, your sensitive data is stored in a private cloud away from others, while everything else is stored in a public cloud. While it allows you to benefit from the private cloud server and still keep the costs low, data management in multiple cloud servers becomes more complex.

What are the pros and cons of a cloud server?

Cloud servers can be an affordable way to ensure disaster recovery, plenty of options to scale down or up based on your needs, and have easy access to your resources. However, relying on a cloud server also means you’ll need to rely on the constant internet connection. If you need to decide whether to use a cloud server or not, here are the main pros and cons of using one.

Pros of a cloud server

Here are the main benefits of a cloud server:

  • pros
  • pros
  • pros
  • pros
  • pros
  • pros
    Disaster recovery
  • pros
    Low maintenance

Cons of a cloud server

Here are the main downsides of a cloud server:

  • cons
    Less control
  • cons
    Potential data outages
  • cons
    Dependence on internet connection
  • cons
    Compliance issues

How to choose the best cloud server

To choose the best cloud server, first think about your needs. For example, evaluate whether something like automatic backups would benefit your company.

But, because cloud security is often more complex, the answer may not be easy to find, especially if your industry is subject to special compliance laws and regulations. Cloud servers differ in how they handle data, so ensure you understand your industry’s compliance requirements well.

Lastly, the importance of support and service level agreements (SLAs) cannot be overlooked. Reliable customer support and strong SLAs with uptime guarantees can make a real difference to your business.