What Is Clustered Hosting?
Clustered web hosting differs from many other popular forms of hosting such as dedicated web hosting or shared web hosting. This is because hosting that is implemented for a number of different websites through clustered web hosting is actually spread across several different pieces of hardware. The machines that make up the “cluster” of clustered web hosting are referred to as nodes.
There is one key benefit to this form of hosting. It decreases the likelihood that services ran on one website will deplete the resources for all websites that exist in the cluster of servers. This is different from more traditional web hosting.
With other more traditional hosting options, all of a website’s programs such as FTP, forums, e-mail, etc. existed on a single server. If this server goes down, so do all of the programs for that person’s website. However, this is not the case with clustered web hosting. With clustered hosting, it is likely that a website’s FTP, forums, and e-mail are all hosted on different machines. Even if the server that hosts a website’s e-mail goes down, the website’s visitors will still be able to access the site’s forums and the site’s administrators will still be able to access the website’s files via FTP.
Clustered hosting is most useful for rather large websites that see a heavy amount of traffic. With more traditional hosting options, there is always the risk of an entire website and all of its programs and resources going down at once. This can be very annoying, and it can also eat up revenue for websites that are used as businesses. However, with clustered web hosting, this risk is greatly decreased. Parts of a website that customers or visitors use can receive very high levels of traffic with no risk of the website owner losing complete access to his or her website.
Another great benefit of clustered web hosting is the fact that all parts of a website receive a great deal more breathing room to operate. With hosting options that implement one server, all elements of a website have to subsist on the same amount of bandwidth. This includes everything from the physical website, to the database, to FTP, and everything else. However, with clustered web hosting, each server in the cluster has its own bandwidth. This can allow certain different segments of a site to eat up more bandwidth without any risk of slowing down the entire website unlike is the case with other hosting options.
The different website services that are spread across several machines in a cluster implement something known as “load balancing.” Load balancing is a certain kind of methodology used for computer networks that has the ability to distribute the workload of different machines in a computer cluster. Load balancing’s primary function is to make sure that all the resources that exist on the different servers in a cluster are utilized in the most optimal way possible.
Load balancing can greatly increase the reliability of the entire cluster of servers. Sometimes this is done through redundancy. This can also greatly increase the efficiency and performance of hosting in a cluster of servers that would not be possible with a group of servers that do not implement load balancing. This same methodology is often used by internet service providers.
By using load balancing, a website administrator can prevent a single point of failure from bringing down the entire website and all of its resources. You can think of this difference between clustered hosting and other hosting options as newer Christmas lights versus old fashioned ones. With old lights, losing one light in the string would cause every light that came afterwards to fail as well. However, with newer lights, much like clustered web hosting, one point of failure is simply bypassed. This allows everything else to continue to run as if nothing had happened.