Friday, May 8, 2009

Shared Hosting is Still a Good Option

Cloud computing is getting all the attention right now, and rightfully so as it has great promise. Problem is, the cloud just isn't the answer for small websites with less than 200,000 visits.  Even when you cross 200,000 visits, a dedicated server may be a better answer.

Clouds come in thee flavors:
  • Systems that can't do parallel execution and rely on simple starting processes on different CPUs, much like Linux or Windows do today on a multicore CPU. That means the system can't really accelerate complex tasks, but can run a lot of little tasks quickly.  This gives you scalability for most web applications, but does not help with that
  • Systems that can do parallel execution if you use their software development kit and toolset. These tools, like Amazon S3, give you pretty amazing capabilities at the price of near ultimate vendor lock in. You will not likely be able to move out of the cloud today, or possible ever. While today's cloud solutions are cheap, it's not clear that will remain the case forever.
Here's why control panel based shared hosting is still very much relevant: a modern Linux server is pretty damn fast. And cheap. And requires no changes to code when you move. cPanel servers are a great way to get started . With a solution like cPanel, even fairly large companies can get almost everything they need.  Why?
  • Web server needs scale with traffic, not with company size.
  • Server features are pretty comprehensive and pretty standard.
  • So, if you have less than about 200,000 visits, shared hosting can be a great deal.
  • Most shared hosts are actually very good, even at $5-$10 per month.
Great Sources for Shared Hosting
There are lots of great hosting companies out there, but for the money these are the two that I use:

Incredible Hosting Deal - Linux based hosting, choose US or Europe data centers. Great support.
Lunar Pages - Linux, Windows, VPS and Dedicated servers.

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