Amazon services are all pretty much xen vps instances with an added application interface that allows you to interconnect with their other services and billing systems. An amazon EC2 instance is just a preconfigured xen vps instance.
Amazon was just the first! I can tell you a very expensive one that provides very good service… but it is in Spanish although very reliable. But, I insist, it is expensive. And I know of other companies… but this is the only one that I really know and that I would rely on (as well as Amazon)
Is cloud hosting the same as VPS ?
No. I would say it is more like the opposite. A VPS is a method of splitting a server, making it look like if you had two or more servers instead of only one. The cloud makes various servers work together to provide a service, and it looks like just one server.
To keep it simple, cloud computing is a model of hosting service where you only pay only for the resources that you need.
Sometimes, a site grows big enough to be hosted in its own server due to traffic… but maybe you don’t need all the storage and other services you get when you contract one, and you’re paying for services that you may never use.
The data is stored in one or more web servers, depending on the amount of data and the databases you have… when you need more storage or any other resource then you increase your limit and pay for it.
It is not like a P2P network. For a start, it is not de-centralized.
Amazon has their own infrastructure, so if you contract Amazon, you’re paying to your real provider and not a reseller.
My university is working to move to cloud computing. Currently we have 300-400 lab computers on campus. Each computer has roughly $3,000K of software. Due to budget cuts, libraries and other labs are closing earlier. So to give students/faculty/staff the same access, they can log on to some external source (like remote connection) on their own laptop and have those software packages.
The major problem is not all students/faculty/staff have their own computer…
In terms of end user and when contracting hosting services, yes.
The real definition is much more technical and talks about paradigms and stuff that I don’t know very well, to be honest.
It is not a physical hosting service as we know, it is more a technology that offers different services via internet. Google Docs, Gmail and many others act like that. The application and the data itself is not stored in just one server, and the person using the service doesn’t really care where it is stored and he doesn’t even know it. He simply uses the service. But although he doesn’t know, his e-mails and/or documents can be stored in one, two or more servers… I guess that’s why they call it “cloud”… you don’t really know where your stuff is… just somewhere there in outspace
But if you contract a cloud system, you’re not contracting a server, but only the hosting that adapts to your specific needs and which you will increase when you need to and as you wish. You’re in the “cloud” because to you it will look as just one server, but you may be using more than one, or 20 without realising you’re doing it… the hosting provider takes care of the balancing and all.
As you say, different providers may have different qualities of services and cloud is not different. All of your data is outsourced to your provided which may be dangerous. And if your provider has some kind of financial problem and goes bankrupt, you may end up losing all your data