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I'm rolling up my sleeves and trying to tackle the fundamental concepts of cloud computing for the first time. I am planning to build a highly-scalable web application, and can't ignore the potential benefits of cloud platforms. Now I think I get all the basic concepts of it, except when I try to compare it to service plans offered by traditional web hosts such as GoDaddy. GoDaddy, for instance, offers a Grid Hosting package where you can basically keep adding machines to your plan as demand grows.

How are plans like this different than a "true" cloud service offered by someone like Amazon?

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As per the FAQ, Super User is about personal computer hardware and software, not for discussion of web hosting services. –  slhck Sep 28 '11 at 18:54
    
Hi @slhck - since you seem to be much more familiar with StackExchange than I am, can you direct me to an SE site where my question would be more appropriate? If you can, I'll flag the moderators to move it. –  Mara Sep 28 '11 at 19:01
    
I'm thinking. Depends on what you want to do with them, actually. In the sense of: What's the real question? What would you use these services for? –  slhck Sep 28 '11 at 19:05
    
Say I have a Java web application and want to make it highly-scalable. Would a cloud be a better choice over the Grid Plan that GoDaddy offers (and I'm not singling out GoDaddy; I'm singling out any web host that offered grid computing before the "cloud" buzzword became all the rage). –  Mara Sep 28 '11 at 19:09
    
Webmasters mention in their FAQ: > If your question generally covers the operation of websites which you control, then you’re in the right place to ask your question!. So if you say, you'd run a highly scalable Java web app, I think you should be good. No guarantee though! –  slhck Sep 28 '11 at 19:18
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The real benefit of cloud hosting comes from the ability to quickly add and remove servers as needed to handle traffic. You only get charged for the amount of time that each server runs. It's easy to stand-up and terminate machines as needed, no long term commitments unless you purchase cheaper reserved instances.

I don't know anything about Godaddy's grid hosting (they may just be behind the eightball on providing a cloud hosting interface). Amazon for example gives you access to a load balancer that you can use with your instances as you add and remove them.

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And obviously the cost is a loss of 'security' in some regards. I typically opt for cloud hosting myself, though I enjoy hosting things on my own local boxes - I find the cloud looks better and better when my ISP goes down. –  Doc Sep 28 '11 at 20:59
    
@Doc - Can you explain what you mean by loss of security? I've read their whitepaper (Amazon) and it's a tight ship, but I might be missing something. –  JMC Sep 28 '11 at 21:03
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The loss of security is simple. You're not physically in control of the machines. You are told it's 'secure' as per various metrics, but you don't irrefutably know the physical situation of the machines. Also, it is unlikely, but possible, that a fundamental security flaw in the host platform could be used to access your data. Since it is actually sitting along side other stuff. It's easy to say something's secure, especially when disproving that requires a fair bit of time and skill in that area. The only completely secure thing you have, is something you don't have at all. –  Doc Sep 28 '11 at 21:06
    
Ok, so it's less secure from a philosophical point of view than hosting in a tier 4 data center which only you have access, I agree. From a technical point of view, if executed as stated in policies, their security holds water. Thanks for clarifying. –  JMC Sep 28 '11 at 21:11
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JMC & Doc - thank you both!!! –  zharvey Sep 28 '11 at 21:13
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