By Sean P Aune

10 Solutions For Your Cloud Hosting Needs

By Sean P Aune

The cloud, the cloud, the cloud. That seems to be all you hear about these days, and how we’ll all eventually live in “the cloud.” Well, there’s a reason for that…it’s pretty much true.

Already you have services such as Twitter using Amazon S3 to serve all of the avatar images on its service, so that just shows it can be used for those little tweaks your users never think of. You can also choose to run your entire SaaS on a grid system if you prefer, scaling up resources only when they are most needed. The best part of most cloud hosting solutions is that they only charge you for what you use, so why should you be paying for resources you never access?

We’ve gathered up 10 cloud solutions to help you get started on your journey into the sky.

Amazon CloudFront: When you combine CloudFront with S3, you get a repository for your original files, and CloudFront helps deliver your files from multiple edge locations so that your users get delivery with low latency and high data transfer speeds. Pricing is based on data transfer and GET requests.

Amazon EC2: The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, also known as Amazon EC2, allows you to launch and remove web servers as you need with the OS and configurations that you need. Pricing is based on the amount of computer time and bandwidth that you consume with no minimum monthly fees.

Amazon S3: Amazon Simple Storage Service, more commonly known as Amazon S3, has pretty much become the default file storage system for just about every major web application you can think of. As with other Amazon services, you pay only for the resources you consume based on storage, transfer and requests.

Elastic Server: With Elastic Server you can choose pre-existing packages to add to your servers, or you can upload your own and customize it to fit your needs.

FlexiScale: FlexiScale allows you to mix virtual and dedicated servers as you see fit, and you can launch as many virtual boxes as you like from the web control panel or via their API. Images include various flavors of Windows and Linux, offers up to 8 GB of RAM and new instances can be launched in under a minute. As with most cloud hosting options, you only pay for what you use with FlexiScale, and there is no contract minimum length.

GoGrid: GoGrid offers you the ability to set up instant, on-demand servers with “control in the cloud” features. Both Windows and Linux based servers can be launched via the web interface in minutes via numerous offered server image configurations.

Google App Engine: App developers can host their applications on Google’s servers for free. If your app grows beyond the free quotas, you can pay for additional resources, but you only pay for what you actually consume. Python and Java are the only officially supported languages, but there are workarounds for apps programmed in PHP and other languages.

GridLayer: GridLayer goes with a more traditional hosting price structure by offering up priced packages for its various solutions. As the name suggest, the company specializes in grid solutions for on-demand scaling as your service or application demands it.

Softlayer CloudLayer: CloudLayer from Softlayer allows you to deploy on-demand computing instances of various operating systems on a minimum of 2.0 GHz processor in as little as five minutes. You can integrate each instance with others, or you can run them as stand-alone instances. Pricing can be by the hour, or you can get a discount by paying for a month at a time.

The Rackspace Cloud: The Rackspace Cloud, formerly known as Mosso, has a three-step process to launch the servers you need: Choose RAM from 256 MB to 15.5 GB, choose your operating system and off you go to having a new server in just a few minutes. Pricing starts as low as $.015 an hour.

Look out later this year for an exciting book from SitePoint all about cloud computing.

  • Jasconius

    I have Rackspace Cloud, until they switched from the Mosso branding they were fantastic, but once they rebranded they took a couple of bad PR steps with their .NET hosting by changing configuration settings on relatively short notice, mismanaging the changes, and then blaming the defects on the customers code rather than the config changes (and it turned out to be the config changes that was the issue).

    I still think that they are the #1 host you can get for ASP.NET by virtue of the fact that there simply is not a big market for .NET hosts… Mosso will work with you on IIS configuration letting you port almost any .NET app to it…

    If you are going the PHP route though, look somewhere else, you can probably find something with a better price.

    Speaking of price, one fantastic thing about Rackspace is you can have an unlimited number of unique sites/domains which is what makes it a much better value than MediaTemple if you run a freelance business that hosts its own clients… Rackspace even handles the billing of the clients virtually.

  • eretz

    We use all three Rackspace Cloud offerings; Cloud Sites, Servers and Files. Their built-in CDN powered by Limelight is also much *faster* ( than Cloud Front, and adds a lot of value speeding up static asset delivery. For full disclosure, we are also a Rackspace Partner, so can use our referral code REF-ERETZ to get $25 off their Cloud Sites offering :)

  • eretz

    Another thing we found really useful about Rackspace Cloud Sites was that they were one of the few scalable .NET hosts we could get IIS7 + Integrate Pipeline running on for our ASP.NET MVC projects. eretz

  • nathany

    I think a list like this would be more useful if organized by the different types of cloud hosting.
    * CDN file hosting like Amazon S3/Cloudfront and Rackspace Cloud Files (Limelight).
    * Server hosting with APIs to fire up new instances (Amazon EC2, Slicehost, Rackspace Cloud Servers, Linode).
    * Shared hosting on clustered hardware (Google App Engine, Rackspace Cloud Sites, Heroku, MediaTemple).

    Then there are companies providing services on top of cloud hardware, esp. Amazon: RightScale, Engine Yard Solo/Flex and also including Heroku.

    And finally there are professionally managed dedicated servers that include virtualization and the ability to add additional servers and VMs on-demand (Rackspace does this also).

  • eretz

    @nathany, exactly. In my other post (awaiting admin moderation) I mentioned the various Rackspace Cloud services. You can have your “Private Cloud” (e.g. on your managed hardware) which scales out onto the “Public Cloud” (e.g. shared hardware). eretz

  • cloud curious

    what about Joyent?

  • rmassart

    This is an interesting list, but it is purely a list. It would have been nice to have some kind of comparison on the pros and cons of the various options.

  • Another cloud host worth mentioning here is They are a young hosting company, but so far I have been very pleased with there service and support. They have made it easy to setup VPS’s based on premade server templates and you can also add and or subtract resources from your account on the fly. They are actively adding new features on a regular basis, and whenever problems have come up, they really have been on the ball and resolved them in a timely manner. They certainly have proven to be a good alternative to some of the more costly solutions mentioned here for me.

  • greenerist

    What about Microsoft Azure?

  • There is also Cartika – the provide shared cloud (like Mosso or MT) or VPS / Dedicated Clusters “on the cloud”.

Get the latest in Front-end, once a week, for free.