You hear a lot about the different types of web hosting, with free web hosting, shared servers, dedicated servers, and virtual private servers, but another type involves what is known as clustered website hosting.
A typical web site server will place all functions that help to run a website on a single server, for many you would know this as Cpanel. This means that all resources needed to run everything, including the site’s email, FTP, database, daily backups, and so on, are in that one location together.
So if things are going on at the site that create a big spike in usage or traffic, it could run into problems with the availability of resources.
The capacity for handling everything is finite, limited only to the resources on that one machine.
This also means that if there’s a server failure or security problem with that one server, the whole thing goes down. This is why this type of arrangement is sometimes regarded as a potential “single point of failure.
” What clustering does instead is to spread the usage for a site over several different physical machines, known as “nodes.”
This makes the resources of all those machines available for the various functions like FTP, the databases of the site, email, and so on. So if one function experiences a sudden increase in activity, the resources are drawn in from other machines to make sure this heavier load can be handled.
The Advantages To Using This Type Of Website Hosting
Clustering also has an advantage when any of the servers needs maintenance. In a single server arrangement, if the server needs to be rebooted in order to add software upgrades or for other reasons, the websites go down for a short while because the host is not available.
However, even if all the nodes in a cluster need upgrading, they can be staggered and done one at a time, so that the hosting service is still available even while the upgrades are being done.
Is This Hosting Really More Reliable?
Clustered hosting is supposed to be more reliable than single-server hosting, both when it comes to available resources and for allowing sites to stay online even during maintenance and reboots. However, this occasionally doesn’t seem to be everyone’s experience. There have sometimes been reports of even a clustered server having problems with extremely heavy usage.
For example, some people have posted questions to web development forums asking why, even with clustered hosting, their hosting company claims that the load from their own discussion forum simply is too much for the cluster. It seems that if a forum allows search queries, those queries are huge resource hogs. Some developers suggest limiting queries in a forum or eliminating them altogether.
There are other functions on a site that can really take a lot of power, so even clustered hosting, it seems, can have limitations or at least experience a few hitches. But these resource drains can be worked around by people with the knowledge to do so.
If you go this route to host your website, but you’re not sure you or someone in your business really have the technical knowledge to do this streamlining, then you’d be wise to choose a “managed” hosting situation, where the web host manages such things for you. If you’ve got good tech support, either in your business or through the web host itself, then clustered website hosting may be the way to go, for your busy website.