The Evolution of Web Hosting
Ever since the internet became a popular tool, there have been many services that have evolved around it. As the websites became more and more complicated, it became necessary for various parties to get involved in the business of supporting the web. One of the main services that evolved is the web hosting business. It started off as an add-on service provided by web domain providers but it has evolved to become a huge service on its own. The evolution of web hosting has been remarkable over the years. In order to fully understand how the industry has changed, it is important to look at how it all begun and where it is now. Here is a quick look at the evolution of web hosting.
Workstations During the Early Years
In the earliest days of the web, the most common form of hosting websites was by using workstations. Most businesses and people who hosted the websites had to do them on their own. The workstations would be located in virtually every office. The mere prospect of having them haphazardly in the workplace meant that websites were often offline because of their unreliability.
The tools that allowed this kind of arrangement to take place were available in nearly all operating systems at the time. Turning a computer into a web server was something that was done often as part of the basic internet setup procedures. Today, it is not common to find most people hosting their websites from a home server. This is because the web has evolved significantly to the extent where the technology needed to host a proper modern website is often much more expensive than it was before. People have also gotten used to speedy websites that are available 24/7. A home web server is thus a slow and unreliable option that cannot handle the traffic of the modern day.
Transition to Data Centers
After being used for quite a while, workstations finally became unreliable for the market. They were quickly replaced by physical data centers. Data centers were much bigger, faster and more efficient than workstations. Data centers were placed in a special room within an organization where they would support the hosted websites throughout the day. Data centers saw the first ever hosting infrastructure being developed. Data centers were built to withstand both physical and software damage.
What set data centers apart from the rest of the options in the market was the fact that they came with teams who supported and maintained them. Data centers are indeed used in the market till date. Physical servers provide a robust method of hosting as they can be expanded and kept securely at various locations. Physical servers also heralded the era of investing in hosting services. Because of the capital investment required, the amount of physical space required and the high maintenance costs, they became the preserve of capable investors.
Virtual Data Centers
The modern web hosting business is dominated by virtual servers. With billions of websites being in existence, the web has become just too big to be backed up in physical servers alone. Nowadays, you have privacy and security providers like OpenVPN, big web corporations and the average consumer all relying on the few physical servers. This has made it impossible for space and energy required to be enough to support the entire web entities. The physical servers have thus grown too big and under so much pressure. This is what has given rise to the shift to virtual servers. Virtualization of storage has proven to be a necessary evolution process as the web grows.
Virtualization has not only made it possible to store the normal things like website files, but it has also made it possible to keep entire operating systems online. This is a great thing since websites themselves are transforming into web apps. Web hosting is thus increasingly becoming software hosting in some instances. The separation of software from the hardware has resulted in more capacity to perform bigger tasks. With hardware systems that no longer need to rely on locally stored software, it has become possible to do more with ordinary computers. Virtual servers today work in clusters which are all differentiated to serve different purposes.
Cloud-based hosting is quite similar to virtual web hosting. The difference is that the hardware component is no longer needed to provide hosting. The cloud is basically a huge resource that is equipped with almost infinite capacity. Cloud storage is facilitated by thousands of clusters on the web that are powered by effective APIs. All this infrastructure has come into existence because of the work of competent developers. One of the best aspects of the cloud is that it is not geo-restricted to any location. It is accessible from anywhere and it can serve entities from any location in the world. The cloud services market has grown from nothing at the beginning of the decade to become a 26 billion dollars economy.
Cloud services in the modern day are provided by some of the biggest technology companies. IBM, Adobe and Amazon Web Services are some of the biggest providers that you can find in the market today. Some of the challenges that the cloud server hosting has solved include:
- Removal of barriers that prevent scaling
- Cost challenges associated with maintaining server infrastructure
The Future of Web Hosting
While cloud-based infrastructure seems to be the ultimate evolutionary stage in the web hosting realm, it is probably not the last stage. There are many ways in which the cloud is changing as more and more users start using the service. Service providers are thus constantly monitoring the infrastructure to see what the future holds. What is certain as of now is that much of the web will be hosted in the cloud in the near future. When this happens, the innovation will start directing the next stage of web hosting. With companies that store huge data files increasingly moving over from virtual servers to the cloud, the development of hybrid services and the evolution of methods of content delivery will be unavoidable.