I wander'd lonely into the cloud
That floats on high with sales and spiels,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden server deals,
In the racks and beneath the fans,
Placing hard-earned money in my hands.
To find the true word's worth from the preceding stanza, you'll have to journey into the world of Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. You'll soon discover that by choosing VPS hosting, it'll cost you about a dollar a day for a dedicated Windows or Linux server. Sound impossible? It isn't. Using a clever server configuration, brought to you by Parallels, hosting providers make dedicated servers available to you at about a tenth of the cost of a dedicated hardware system.
Virtual Private Servers
A VPS is a virtual machine hosted remotely for which you pay a monthly or yearly fee. Typical offerings include a guaranteed numbers or amounts of memory, disk space, CPU, IP addresses and network bandwidth. The system is always on and running just as if it were a physical system in your own data center. Most hosting providers supply you with your own control panel with which you can configure your system and services. Once configured, the VPS acts like any other racked system to which you have full root or administrator access.
Each VPS is a container similar to a BSD jail where the running kernel and all standard files, including libraries, are common to all virtual machine instances. Therefore, your VPS resides on a common host with other similar VPSs. In other words, if your VPS runs Microsoft Windows 2003 Server, all systems common to that host also run Windows 2003 Server. Similarly, a VPS host system running a Linux kernel hosts only VPSs running Linux.
- Guaranteed Bandwidth
- Excellent Performance
- 24x7 Support
- 99.9 percent + Uptimes
- Easy Setup and Operation
Isolation provides the security for VPSs residing on a common host. Your VPS instance shares some files with all other instances but configurations, network settings, users, applications and personal files remain isolated to your instance. Guaranteed network bandwidth links to your particular hosting package you've selected but optionally upgradeable to higher levels. Ask about, or look for, dynamic (burstable) bandwidth and memory values when comparing services. The Parallels' container configuration optimizes performance near native levels for Windows and Linux-based operating systems.
Your monthly fee also covers the cost of 24x7 support for your VPSs, the hardware on which they reside and your control panel applications. Hosting providers have found that the customer service value drives sales and customer loyalty. Providers know that guaranteed uptimes don't hurt loyalty either. Highly available hardware setups and automated failover configurations mean near 100 percent uptimes for your VPSs.
Setup and configuration couldn't be simpler with the CPanel or Plesk applications that all Parallels-based hosts offer to their customers. After initial sign-up, your new VPS is only minutes away from availability and once setup, remote access through SSH (Linux) or Windows Terminal Services connect you into your new system.
Picking a Provider
Lucky you you have dozens of choices when it comes to selecting a VPS provider. Open your favorite Internet browser and enter "virtual private server hosting" into the search field. Today, you'll see 13,200,000 results. I don't believe that all of those hits represent hosting companies, offerings or legitimate businesses, but you'll find what you're looking for in the first 50. Numerous reputable providers pop up in those first few results and you're sure to find one that's right for you.
When making your provider selection, look at those bulleted points listed earlier. Call their number to ask any questions you might have though most of the answers exist on line as FAQs. Most hosting companies have automated sign-up available on their Web sites, in which case, you might need no human interaction at all.
Just think, you'll have no more long provisioning times to haunt your dreams, no "hurry up and wait" deployment scenarios to plague your productivity and no high-dollar hosting fees to deplete your bank account. If you have an idea this morning, by this afternoon it's an online reality. Virtual Private Servers give you something to think about when on your couch you lie, filling your heart with pleasure-scenes of saved dollars dancing by.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.