VPS vs. VM vs. “The Cloud” – A Helpful Guide Comparison

May 3, 2016

We are frequently asked by our clients: What exactly are the differences between VPS Hosting & VM and Cloud hosting? Here is our take on these technologies where each is very useful when deployed for the correct purpose. First, some definitions:

Virtual Private Server (VPS) uses Virtualization to partition a physical server into logical containers, each of which functions as a separate physical server. Each VPS allows root access and full control to the user, including the ability to start and stop any process as well as stop and reboot the VPS itself. Typically VPS’s are more cost effective because they share common Operating System components making them more dense (efficient).

Virtual Machine (VM) also uses Virtualization to partition the server into logical containers but in a more logically distinct way. Users have root access and at a basic level, there is no difference between a VM and a dedicated server with respect to how it is deployed and managed.

Cloud Servers / VM’s This is where the debate begins to rage but in our view, basically this category is VM’s that include robust redundancy and software defined networking (SDN) (also know as “orchestration”) to allow easy access to automate processes via API’s (Application Programming Interface).

Shared Hosting, VPS, VM, & Cloud Comparison

Shared Hosting Virtual Private Servers (VPS) Virtual Machine (VM) Cloud (OpenStack)
Main
Advantages
  • Control Panel is included
  • Easy management of domain, DNS, email, FTP, etc.
  • Nightly backups are included
  • Very Cost effective
  • Nightly backups are included
  • Integrated Web Hosting Control Panel Tools (Plesk & Cpanel)
  • Cost Effective
  • Root access
  • Up to 95% as efficient / performant as compared to dedicated infrastructure
  • Resources are dedicated
  • Root access
  • Up to 95% as efficient / performant as compared to dedicated infrastructure
  • Pay as you go
  • Cost effective
  • Resources are dedicated
  • Root access
Main
Disadvantages
  • Resources are shared
  • No root access
  • Limited to applications available
  • Resources are shared
  • You need to manage security
  • Resources are dedicated
  • You need to manage security & data backup
  • Resources are dedicated
  • You need to manage security & data backup
Typical
Use Case
  • Websites with 1-10K monthly users
  • DNS hosting
  • Email hosting
  • Websites with 10K-50K monthly users
  • Poorly coded websites that need resources
  • Small business Applications
  • Websites with 50K+ monthly users
  • Enterprise Applications
  • Enterprise Applications
  • Mobile Apps
  • Disaster Recover data storage
Typical
Price Range
$10 /mo $30-$100 /mo $40-$200 /mo
(per VM)
$20-$150 /mo
(per VM)
More on Shared hosting More on VPS hosting More on VM hosting More on Cloud hosting

 

The primary differences between VPS hosting and VM hosting are in how data is stored, and how the physical servers and virtual containers are managed. With VPS hosting, the VPS containers are on a self contained server with its own set of disk drives, typically in a RAID array for better reliability. Management software is used to provision VPS containers and help the hosting provider bill for and administer them.

VM in the Cloud hosting is typically more sophisticated because it is designed for greater uptime. The physical servers do not store any of the VM’s data. All data is stored on a redundant, high speed mass storage unit, called a SAN (storage area network). The SAN is a very reliable device and in and of itself and is configured with an identical hot failover unit in the unlikely event that it does fail. VM in the Cloud hosting also uses a sophisticated Cloud management system, that goes beyond provisioning, billing and administration. The Cloud management system is designed to make it easy to adjust and track resource usage. This management system checks on the health of all of the physical servers and when a hardware failure occurs, automatically restarts the virtual machines that are impacted on other healthy servers. The combination of sophisticated resource management, and “self healing” are a superior paradigm for hosting services.