Starting a new online company is exciting, challenging and fulfilling for the aspiring eco-conscious entrepreneur. Current economic conditions, however, force the issue of operating costs to the front of the line when blueprinting how exactly to get your business off the ground. Energy costs are rising every single day (see your credit card statement for the last time you filled your gas tank), but this doesn’t have to be a deterrent in starting your business or just maintaining your personal web space. Cloud hosting is one of the best ways to cut operating costs and ensure you’re doing your small part in protecting the environment.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS)
VPS is the choice most startups use to get their business or personal website up and running. A VPS is a virtual machine which a single server (the physical hardware) is partitioned into multiple individual servers, which can subsequently run their own operating systems and be singularly rebooted without affecting the others. Cloud hosting is a relatively new technology which uses several VPS’s (a “cloud”) and allows for fast and easy scalability of resources, including disk space and memory. In short, cloud hosting is basically like renting an apartment in a large complex and if some issue arises (i.e. leaking pipes, insect infestation) you can simply call the landlord for maintenance instead of fixing it yourself. Cloud hosting is becoming the most popular option for webmasters not only because of its vast flexibility from a technical standpoint, but also the savings passed on because of the energy saved versus running a dedicated server.
Dedicated Servers | Large Corporations
The decision as to hosting locally with a dedicated server or with a cloud can easily be made based on costs alone. Dedicated servers are generally reserved for large corporations or other websites that know millions of daily visitors are imminent. The fact you need to be extremely tech-savvy and/or hire an IT person to tend to your dedicated server adds to an already expensive initiative. The cheapest dedicated hosting package through Liquidweb, a popular provider, is $189 per month just to rent the single-processor server before any configuration options are added. This doesn’t include the electrical costs which will inevitably follow, as the server must be ran 24/7 and have some sort of backup system in case of failure. The average yearly energy costs for continuously running a dedicated server, a backup power module and a small air conditioning unit to cool the room, which the server is housed, can easily exceed $1000 in a smaller-scale operation. In contrast, Amazon has a small cloud hosting package that cost $.08 per hour of usage, and Rackspace.com has a “medium” package that goes for just $99 per month, regardless of usage and with no additional energy bill.
The savings on energy costs aren’t the only reasons to use cloud hosting. Because of its relatively new status, there’s still much confusion between what exactly the differences are between cloud and VPS hosting. The short answer is that both of them are very similar, and clouds are sometimes referred to as “VPS clouds.” A cloud can also be defined as several VPS’s spread across several locations, thus providing far more flexibility in upgrades and migration. What makes cloud hosting unique is that you can create different nodes and set each of them up on separate VPS’s in your cloud. Each node (e.g. a mail server, a DNS server, etc.) can be configured however you like without interfering with the others.
If all of the above has confused you to the point of not wanting to start a business or website, that’s all the more reason to choose cloud hosting over a dedicated server. Almost every cloud provider has online and/or telephone customer service agents and technicians who can help you with setup and general operation. Users of dedicated server frequently mention advantages such as 100 percent private data only accessible to them; the server is “shared” with nobody else, and you can customize the hardware anyway you choose. But most new entrepreneurs are experts in gardening, cooking or whatever their specialty is. They simply want to log onto their site, provide fresh information and collect money, without the burdens of having to be knowledgeable in iSCSI or earning an MCSE or CCNA.
Office Networking & Energy Costs
Cloud hosting is just one technical aspect in creating the ideal green office. It’s common knowledge that lighting is generally one of the bigger energy consumers in a home or office. Fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than traditional ones and can help reduce utility bills. LED light bulbs cost a little more, but last much longer than the others and can be kept on all the time without worrying about denting your wallet. Many home and business owners alike make the common mistake of leaving things plugged into the wall that aren’t in use. The toaster, TV, microwave and other appliances and electronics consume energy even when they’re not being used for their primary purposes. The best way to gauge the energy wasted is by unplugging everything (including your computers) when you leave for the night, then compare your electric bill from the previous to current month. This is an easy way to save a few bucks and reduce carbon emissions from the local power company which burns coal or oil to provide you power.
Your new cloud package can also help you go paperless in the office. Instead of printing memos or business literature which needs storing or distributed to employees, simply turn them into a portable document format (PDF) or word document and store them in your cloud’s hard disk. The benefits of going paperless are numerous. You will be doing your part in preserving our forests, thus providing more vital oxygen for humanity and every animal on the planet. Not to mention, running that expensive laser printer all day adds to your overall utility bill as well. If you must print anything, always use the double-sided feature to reduce the amount of paper, ink and electricity used to produce it.
Cloud hosting solutions can, in fact, have some limitations, as far as configuration, installation of custom software, and having complete control of all data and processes. However, future expansion of your website, scalability, performance and maintenance are far simpler and efficient with a cloud hosting package. You will also be doing your small part in preserving our ecosystems while simultaneously saving money.