Cloud Hosting, Cloud Servers, what’s the difference?

Recently VPS.net introduced Cloud Hosting, a new solution that differs a bit from their VPS Cloud Servers. I’m very, very happy with that product. Finally there’s something in between WestHost hosting, which I’ve been loving and promoting for a few years now but really is only for the beginning blogger, and the far more advanced VPS Cloud Server. You see, some bloggers might get more traffic, but that doesn’t mean they can easily configure their own server.

Terry Myers of VPS.net talks about cloud hostingI was talking about this with Terry Myers of VPS.net, and decided to turn it into an interview, so here we go:

  • Terry, could you introduce yourself to the readers of Yoast.com and tell us what your role at VPS.net is? 

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to chat with you and your readers today. I’m Terry Myers, the Chief Evangelist for VPS.net. I’ve been working with the company for a little over the past year, working in a couple of different roles. The great thing about my role with the company is there isn’t a real set job description, so I find myself going wherever the customer needs me. My day to day tasks range from chatting with our customers on Twitter, where you can follow us @vpsnet, to working with our engineers to setup a complex multi-server cluster for our customers. Both of which, are oddly enough, equally as exciting to me. I’m guess I’m a bit of a social nerd.

  • What is the difference between Cloud Hosting and a VPS Cloud Server, which would you advice to whom? 

    Our cloud hosting is a product we recently launched in May of 2011. When doing market research we found that there was a lot of demand for an easily administrated cloud hosting solution. What we’ve done with our cloud hosting product is essentially created a shared hosting product that you would get from any web hosting company, and then combined that with our cloud infrastructure. What you get is a shared hosting account that is built off of the cloud, which means it’s easily scalable, while also having extremely good redundancy, as there are multiple servers available for your site to run on.What makes this different from our cloud servers, is the cloud servers require a bit more technical skill, requiring you to administrate the web server. Our cloud servers are like a private web server for your specific website. Where they’re advantageous over the cloud hosting is they have a bit more flexibility, in that you can configure the server in fashion you need, while also being able to handle more traffic.
    Between the two products, I really feel that we have a solution for almost any customer. If you’re running just a basic website, our cloud hosting will likely work out tremendously well for you. If you have a site that requires a unique setup, or a site that receives a significant amount of traffic, then our cloud servers can suit your site well.

  • WestHost is a sister company to VPS.net, what’s the difference between WestHost WordPress Hosting and Cloud Hosting? 

    The WestHost WordPress hosting solution is a great product. It lets the customer get up and running with a wordpress installation in just a few minutes, and that works out very well for a lot of people. The difference between the two products is with the infrastructure used on the backend. The WestHost WordPress hosting uses dedicated servers that are shared amongst multiple customers, like any traditional shared hosting arrangement. It’s a solution that makes for a stable, and affordable hosting experience.Where our product is a little bit different is that instead of using dedicated servers to host our clients, we use our cloud infrastructure. We’re essentially able to create servers on the cloud to host our cloud hosting clients, which benefit from the instant scalability the cloud offers, along with the auto-failover abilities. What this means for our clients is if one client is put on a site like Digg.com, we’re able to immediately add resources that’ll prevent their site from going down. Additionally, if one server in the cloud experiences a problem, like a hardware failure, that has no effect on the clients. The other servers in the cloud just take over the work that it was doing.

  • Especially in WordPress hosting, there seems to have been a race to the bottom in prices. Slowly people seem to realize that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, yet they’d like to know what kind of support they can expect if they pay a bit more, after all $20 a month still doesn’t allow you to have a dedicated engineer. What’s VPS.net’s service like? 

    We’ve definitely seen a shift in the market; people no longer are looking for the absolute lowest price, instead they’ve started to look at what their hosting company can offer them, and support is definitely a big part of that. We have a team of support engineers that are solely focused on our cloud hosting product. We’re seeing average response times under 15 minutes, with the issue being resolved by the 3rd response, and on average, in less than 1 hour.

  • That’s actually quite impressive! Thanks for your time Terry, I’m quite sure my readers will know where to find you if they run into issues with their new Cloud Hosting accounts!

    Thanks. I’ll definitely be around on Twitter.

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29 Responses

  1. RarstBy Rarst on 1 September, 2011

    Interesting, there is quite a gap in prices between shared and VPS.

    Does it do opcode and/or object caching? Only mentions LiteSpeed for server (does mention eAccelerator on front page).

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 1 September, 2011

      Hi Rarst,

      We do a limited amount of caching with eAccelerator, however we don’t have any other caching mechanisms installed on the cloud hosting server.

      If you choose to opt for our cloud servers, you can have an engineer of ours do a customized solution, selecting the caching needs that benefit your specific application.

      Terry

      • RarstBy Rarst on 1 September, 2011

        Thank you for information, will think about it. Full VPS is overkill for my needs (and blog that is more personal and not creating revenue), so I am very interested in solutions that fall between that and shared hosting.

  2. JyleBy Jyle on 2 September, 2011

    I have used this exact VPS.net cloud system for the past 3 or so months (maybe 4 now). This month i also bought a plan on Westhost, as i plan to migrate. Why? Lets see:

    While the support for vps.net has always been really good, i was always assumed to be one in fault which i didn’t appreciate. Here are some odd things i ran into which i didn’t see much assistance from as it was seen as ‘out of their control’.

    Don’t expect Piwik or various other scripts (ProfitSeige Lander scripts) to work; they just don’t, though even a dodgey $3.50/m plan would perform on this.

    When i first started there were lots of issues, one was that in their cpanel, you couldn’t add, rename or unzip files (this was later fixed). I also reported numerous bugs to test if they were true to their ‘report a bug and we will give you free hosting for x’ and they always found a way to blame the issue not on themselves (such as the cpanel one and scripts not working). If vps.net isn’t responsible for malfunctionality of cpanel and the scripts then i don’t know ‘who is’, do you? (But whatever, its their terms and conditions, their rules, but also their ‘real’ character shown).

    I also found the limitations on the accounts a big strange, such as 10max emails, 10max addon domains and so on.

    So anyway, i was still super pleased with the websites performance, as im a script heavy wordpress user (i use more than a few plugins, but still expect good performance) and as i liked vps.net i went with their sister; westhost.

    Just as a note to anyone here; this is a great utility and service, you ca basically pay $20/m for vps speed, just note that you will have many compatibility issues, and its likely they will turn a blind eye to yours until it comes in waves of complaints (and then they realise they need to fix it in order to keep their income).

    If you’re looking for something more reliable (imo) try westhost business instead.

  3. Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 2 September, 2011

    Jyle,

    What kind of issues did you experience with the scripts?

    • JyleBy Jyle on 12 September, 2011

      The javascript / ajax wouldn’t load within the piwik dashboard so none of the functions or modules worked for it, and some other scripts had permission issues with the database so they wouldn’t install or work properly.

      Don’t get me wrong, i had a great run with vps.net, it’s a great service and id support it. Just giving my unbias review of my experience over the last few months.

      The 2 scripts listed above (which aren’t common but i do use) aren’t very popular at all, so It’s no big drama unless trends change.

      Like i said though, i migrated to your partner site as it better suited my needs and was more mature. So im still a happy customer :)

  4. Scott Wyden KivowitzBy Scott Wyden Kivowitz on 2 September, 2011

    I’m considering the move to the new VPS Cloud Hosting. Free migration is a HUGE selling point. My concern is the amount of space in the $20 plan. If someone outgrew it, I am right to assume that the person can be scaled to the next option instantly?

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 2 September, 2011

      Hi Scott,

      Yes, you can immediately upgrade/downgrade cloud hosting plans at any time.

  5. RichBy Rich on 2 September, 2011

    I’ve recently created a Cloud Hosting account at VPS, researching a migration from Dreamhost (where I have some 50+ client “mostly brochure type” websites) to VPS – primarily for the speed and managed servers.

    cPanel in itself is taking some getting used to – especially frustrating is the fragmentation between cPanel and the account CP.

    The biggest issue I have with VPS at this point is their account control panel and knowledgebase (or lack thereof). Something as simple as assigning Google Mail to a domain (as apposed to using the traditional mail server) could have been explained, with a screenshot and quick 123 step tutorial, to get that up and running. Instead, support ran me in a circle linking me out to Google Help. Yet, in the meantime waiting on a follow-up from support, a fellow customer in their forum actually answered the questions.

    Don’t get me wrong, support is supper fast as far as response time, but a solid knowledgebase detailing (what I’m sure are) redundant questions would make their product night and day better! I most likely wouldn’t have had to contact support in the first place.

    Terry, get an account at Dreamhost and take notes on their Admin CP – for the most part, it rocks. I’d imagine you’ll be pulling more customers from there just as confused as me upon entry to the VPS CP.

    One other recommendation is to give Dev/Designers like me a better expansion upgrade path than the 10 domain limitation – something else I’m pondering long and hard about before I commit to a total migration.

    At any rate – I do recommend VPS, just so long as they keep improving the UX in the account CP.

    • Scott Wyden KivowitzBy Scott Wyden Kivowitz on 2 September, 2011

      I would be moving from Dreamhost as well. VPS would handle the migration, which is nice.. I have multiple WordPress driven websites. One which is the workhorse. I also have a ThinkUp, SeoPanel and a PancakeApp site. If VPS would migrate everything over and get me running with my email on Google Mail then I’d be set.

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 3 September, 2011

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for the feedback. As a note, we’re actually working on dramatically improving our knowledge base. We have something that is being worked on as we speak at http://wiki.vps.net/. We’re still adding new articles, and refining existing articles each day.

      We’re also working with Mark Boulton for a new control panel design. Our goal is to make it significantly easier to get up and running, and also to manage your server. We definitely understand that the current design has a steep learning curve, especially when you go to initially set things up.

      We’re exploring some options to help out designers and developer who wish to use our cloud platform. I can’t promise anything, but we do see the demand, and will be exploring our options to fill the market’s needs.

      Terry

  6. MarcusBy Marcus on 4 September, 2011

    This is great news. I’ve been intrigued by VPS.net, after reading good reviews from top WordPress pros like Yoast, DIY Themes (Thesis), and Woo Themes.

    What held me back in the past was that I didn’t have the interest (and skill) to administer a web server. But I did want the instant scalability of the cloud if my sites got hit by big spikes in traffic. Cloud hosting looks like the best of both worlds.

    Question for Terry: any plans to support Ruby on Rails in the future? I thought it was really cool that you guys already support Django.

    Second question: this might be a stupid thing to ask, but is Cloud Hosting compatible with CloudFlare? Or is it not necessary, since CH comes included with so much network transfer? I’ve been looking at CloudFlare for the speed boost and security features.

    Third and last question: Are those per-month prices if I sign up for a full year, or actual prices if I only pay by the month? I couldn’t find out from your site.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work at VPS.net.

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 6 September, 2011

      Yes, you can use CloudFlare with our cloud hosting. CloudFlare does have other advantages besides reducing your bandwidth usage, so you may still find beneficial to still use them.

      The pricing for cloud hosting on our site is per month.

      Terry

  7. Happy HotelierBy Happy Hotelier on 5 September, 2011

    I was just reading this while my sites, hosted by VPS, were down another 5 hours. Yes, customer service is quite good, but after having followed Yoast’s advice last year and migrating to VPS with 3 blogs and far less traffic than I suppos Joost has, I am Really Dissappointed with now 120 instances of downtime on their London H Cloud. Yoast I really suggest you boast a bit less about them!

    • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 5 September, 2011

      Sorry to hear you feel so badly about them. I know they’re aware that there have been issues, from the relative outside I think they’re mostly caused by their rapid growth, which in itself is a result of affiliates like me being so happy with them… We’re talking about how to resolve these issues, although I wish they hadn’t happened at all, but that’s outside of my field of influence.

      • Happy HotelierBy Happy Hotelier on 5 September, 2011

        I’m not solliciting your help, but just try to make a point that if you boast so much about VPS AND (as a consequence like you suggest)they grow too much to keep their backoffice in order, you take a risk that the boasting invokes contary reactions.

        I’ve also tried other VPS solutions by other providers, but their customer support is definitely below par when compared to VPS. Maybe I have to conclude I’m not technical enough and haven’t got time enough to go deeply into server management nitty gritty and should stay away from VPS at all.

        Moreover Terry is very vague and the site of VPS is also very vague on the basis of what parameters you should decide on Cloud Hosting or a Cloud server solution…

        In any case I’ve decided to share my own experiences in more detail.

  8. SimonBy Simon on 5 September, 2011

    I have to agree with Happy Hoteller. I switched over to VPS.net based on Yoast’s recommendation. That was a terrible decision. I suffered frequent downtime, was offered very little to explain the downtime, and very shoddy support. I moved on to another VPS afterwards, thinking it was only VPS.net, and also got crushed by downtime and outages.

    From the perspective of someone who depends on their site being online for a living, I wouldn’t recommend using a VPS at all.

  9. Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 6 September, 2011

    Hi,

    Apologies if you feel I was vague – there’s a lot of complexities involved with choosing a hosting plan, and then decided whether to go with our cloud hosting or a cloud server. To extend an “end-all” solution, you need this or that, would be near impossible, so I try to outline the benefits each offer. If people are unsure, I always recommend contacting our sales department – it’s not only smart, but also a good practice as part of being a diligent consumer.

    I have received an email from you, which I’ll be responding to shortly.

  10. Chris SchryerBy Chris Schryer on 6 September, 2011

    I too, followed Yoast’s advice and moved a few sites over to a VPS.net server, including a few business sites in partnership with a friend. At first it was awesome. Blazing fast, easy to work with (that being said, I’m quite comfortable ssh’ing into a LAMP and working mainly in terminal). Then, after a few months, something went wrong with their billing. Payment didn’t process, so they suspended the account. After looking into it with our card company, we let VPS know it was a problem on their end. They unsuspended the account, but our server wouldn’t restart. While waiting for a tech to look into it, our account was suspended again. So we left. Support varied from super quick to respond and quite helpful, to a few messages that still have no answer. As a web developer, when clients ask me what I think about VPS.net, I say they are incredible, as long as you never plan on needing support….

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 6 September, 2011

      Hi Chris,

      I’m unable to locate your account by your name listed in the post. Could you contact me at terry@vps.net with your former account information?

      Terry

  11. RaghuBy Raghu on 7 September, 2011

    I signed up with VPS.net to get same setup as Yoast. They did free migration from Dreamhost VPS.

    1. Site Uptime went up from 98.xx% to 99.xx% with vps.net
    2. Page load time is considerably faster with litespeed.
    3. Entire month of August, total down time was around 4 hours and 20 minutes.

    4 Hours of down time could have been avoided provided their auto scaling feature worked without flaws. After new nodes were added, system didn’t respond. After several reboots, I submitted a support ticket to find out they had to person file system check.

    This happened twice.

    One major problem i have with them is how invoice is generated. With auto scaling enabled, I have set to add monthly nodes.

    Credit card is billed when new node is added. But, when nodes are deleted refund process is not the same.

    I was billed for $100 something for new nodes, but after deleting the nodes, refund was not processed. Since the amount was greater than 100 I was able to identify that. But, for single node usage times, its hard for me to keep track of node usage time and billing.

    Their invoice should list node usage times and cost based on that.

    For month of August I had like 10 invoices generated, its an overhead for me to keep track of node usage times. If I find another invoice error, I’m migrating away from VPS.

    Support is fast and responsive, but they don’t explain the nature of the problem they had on their side.

    • Terry MyersqBy Terry Myersq on 8 September, 2011

      Hi Raghu,

      Sorry you’ve had some problems. I think we can solve a few of the problems for you, but I need to look at your account to be sure. Could you email me at terry@vps.net?

      As a note, we charge per node, not per VPS. So if you have a node assigned to your account, even if it is unused, you will still be invoiced for it. This is because we still have an obligation to provide you with those resources should you need them.

  12. PaulBy Paul on 7 September, 2011

    How much RAM is available to a Business-level Cloud Hosting account? (and why don’t you make this info available on your site… or did I miss it?)

    What’s required to have MySQL available for a WordPress site?

    One of the issues I have with DreamHost shared hosting is that WP multisite doesn’t run well on the backend due to RAM limitations… I would pay a little more for a better solution, but don’t feel that my relatively low-traffic sites demand a full VPS so I can’t justify that cost, nor do I want the admin responsibilities.

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 8 September, 2011

      Hi Paul,

      With cloud hosting there aren’t RAM/CPU limitations per account. Instead your limitations are based off of your bandwidth and disk space utilization. We don’t do the limitations like other traditional share web hosting, as our cloud hosting is meant for high performance with high traffic sites. To limit it then would be a bit of a contradiction.

      MySQL is available with a cloud hosting account – no extra charge.

      Terry

  13. Ilya HoubenBy Ilya Houben on 7 September, 2011

    Based on an earlier review of VPS.net by Yoast I chose VPS.net to host my new site on. That site targets US traffic mainly, but the beta was still hosted on my Dutch dedicated server before I figured the move to US territory would probably be a wise move (instead of having US traffic on a NL server). The site is still tiny with only about 1000 uniques a month. After launch this might pick up fast, forcing me to upgrade to their $68 plan (or go for Cloud Server al together).

    I wanted to start with a Cloud Server, but as the site will be launched without heavy traffic I figured I might as well start off with a lower plan. No point into getting someone aboard to maintain that server yet.

    So Cloud Hosting came into view. It basicly had all the requirements I needed:

    - Price is ok, I figured I might get more value for money if I do not go for the cheapest solution available to me.
    - Scalable to higher Cloud Hosting plan is easy.
    - Scalable to Cloud Server if needed (easy to as VPS.net offers free migration).
    - VPS.net looks like a innovative/modern company, clearly on top of developments.
    - Cloud Hosting should be fast as hell (and stable too but that is now my main issue with them).
    - VPS.net promoted it especially for WP users (using MU myself).

    So I started out with an account and migrated the site myself (though I liked their free migration offer very much, I was still working on parts).

    From that moment trouble started. Let me start off by telling that VPS.net has a good customer service (in my case). Nothing to complain there. I am overall happy with how problems are looked into and (hopefully one day) solved.

    I am not that technical, though technical enough to grasp most of the issues that I encountered. I use Pingdom to monitor uptime/downtime, and am quick enough to check the site manually whenever it is down to verify the Pingdom alerts.

    The first few weeks I experienced many hours of downtime, spread over numerous instances. The site seemed to be unaccessible many times a day for long periods of time (in some cases well over 30 minutes). VPS.net offered me a solution by migrating my website to a new server (I think I was and still am on Atlanta). I accepted and a few days later all was moved and things seemed much more stable. But then after a roughly one week trouble started again, with numerous downtimes.

    Terry said: “Additionally, if one server in the cloud experiences a problem, like a hardware failure, that has no effect on the clients. The other servers in the cloud just take over the work that it was doing.”

    In that case I do not really get it why my site (already launched the beta) is still offline all the time. Does it take much time for other servers to ‘take it over’?

    Speed is awesome, but with a few hours downtime in the month of August I am starting to regret my choice to go with VPS.net. The website has still not been launched. There is no point as not only will my visitors have a crappy experience, but also the search engines will probably punish me for having a site that is offline that often.

    Hopefully performance issues will be fixed soon. I actually feel less worried because overall VPS.net appears to be a pretty honest player. Still, people choose VPS.net Cloud solutions for performance and speed. Even with their $20 plan you should get at least that. A few hours downtime each month are definitely not tolerable. My future rankings will get influenced by that. No need to upgrade already as there is no revenue involved yet. But as the site is launched soon, this will change and speed and performance are something I just need to be able to rely on as minimal requirement without any daily issues. Again, VPS.net is looking into it. Yesterday I got a reply that admins had looked into it and found something which should not happen again. I admit, no downtimes as of yesterday (while daily between 1-5 September), though it is too short of a time frame to actually conclude anything profound.

    I am not writing this to badmouth VPS.net in any way, but to make sure others might consider waiting a bit before boarding the train. As others said, performance should now be a main priority over getting many more new customers. I would very much like to become a very happy camper at VPS.net. Hopefully I will soon encounter a month with around 99,9% downtime minimal instead of the 99,45% I had this last month according to Pingdom (though I do not trust their statictics for the full 100% either).

    • Terry MyersBy Terry Myers on 8 September, 2011

      Hi Ilya,

      We’re certainly not immune to problems — they’re still a possibility, even with the cloud, though we’re certainly trying our best to mitigate the possibilities. We are doing a new infrastructure upgrade on our SANs to further reduce the likelihood of downtime. It’s a pretty neat solution that essentially splits the redundant SAN units from 2 machines to 4 machines, while improving performance. We’ll be announcing more on this in the near future, when we launch our new (*cough* Japanese – Yoast exclusive announcement! *cough*) location.

      Terry

  14. AminBy Amin on 9 September, 2011

    I also took Yoast’s advice as always and signed up for vps.net cloud server. I was really disappointed at the downtime. There were 7 outages totaling (23 hours) last month alone (kind of defeats the purpose of using a cloud server).

    Luckily, I didn’t move my original sites to this vps.net account (I just wanted to test drive them fist with my not so popular sites).

    In case Terry is reading this, here is the ticket number so you know that I am not making this up:

    120315

    This same thing happened to my friend who also singed up following my advice so I know that this is not something that just happened to me.

    Anyway, I am still going to continue to test drive vps.net and see if it gets better as I like the idea of cloud hosting but I think people should know about this so they don’t move their main site and get surprised.

  15. Catherine ChapmanBy Catherine Chapman on 11 September, 2011

    I too followed Yoast’s advice and switched to Westhost in January after spending nearly 2 years with GoDaddy – which was a nightmare.

    All was well at first and then bang. It all started to go wrong. I have cloud hosting as I have an image heavy site and didn’t want all the nonsense I was experiencing with GoDaddy – which was dedicated WordPress hosting, by the way.

    I haven’t experienced 99.9% up time and I am definitely NOT 100% satisfied (as per Brian Chamber’s online promo statements).

    It’s encouraging to read about VPS.net’s SANs upgrades and I hope this is the end of it now as I couldn’t face migrating again but will if I suffer another outage. My cloud is managed by VPS.

    In their defence, the customer service has been second to none and has been the reason I haven’t moved my sites so far. They even make small changes for me that might be a walk in the park for some, but it’s never too much trouble – that’s priceless.

    So I hope that’s it, I hope that the issues are truly resolved and that we can just get on with blogging without seeing any more downtime & long distance phone calls into the night…

    As a final question, Yoast – is it possible that the downtime I’ve had this year could have contributed to the loss of page rank my blog has experienced? Is it possible that the Google bots have crawled all at the wrong time (for me) and found me missing? (I don’t believe Panda had an effect based on dates etc. I went from 4 to 2 and am still trying to find out why though I have been putting things into place to tighten up SEO, code, links etc.)

  16. S.KBy S.K on 13 September, 2011

    Hi
    I am a regular reader of your highly informative posts. Could you please make your text a bit more friendly by adding a better contrast for the foreground and also increase the line height. May I suggest Georgia too!

    Thanks

    S.K