Now, you can build and launch a basic website in mere minutes for barely the cost of one of those frappe-mocha-cafes from your local coffee shop. As prices have decreased and convenience has increased, website hosting has gone from an incredibly difficult task to a simple one. That change has had a powerful impact on our society, giving a voice to millions of people from around the world. Today, anyone can have a website.
The hosting market is growing fast, with hundreds of companies offering a wide range of services. In fact, some estimates claim the industry will be worth $154 billion by 2022.
The shift from traditional hosting to cloud-based hosting
WhoIsHostingThis note that nowadays, most traditional hosts offer domain names, a wide range of hosting plans, ecommerce features, one-click application installation, security features, email, and much more. It’s a far cry from the dorm room servers of the early 2000s which served as merely storage devices.
The hosting industry may be poised for another massive shift in the coming years as some of the largest companies in the world move into the hosting industry and the results could drastically change the hosting industry as we know it.
The shift towards cloud hosting, rather than in-house servers, is one of the most noticeable changes in recent years. Cloud hosting, for example, can minimize the impact of service losses by using distributed resources, increase site speeds, and help keep data more secure.
Why does this matter? And what does this shift mean for consumers? First, let's consider the cloud hosting options from both Amazon and Microsoft:
- How do they handle security?
- How are these changes impacting the hosting industry as a whole?
Microsoft Azure: cloud hosting and support for legacy programs
Microsoft's Azure is an ever-growing system of cloud-based services, which includes cloud hosting, computing, file storage, backups, and services for mobile and web applications. It’s backed by the massive resources of Microsoft, is compatible with many legacy programs, and offers a wide range of services.
For example, if you already use Microsoft as your operating system or use Active Directory, SQL Server Data Tools, or Visual Studio, then Azure is a fantastic option. For businesses, this makes Microsoft cloud hosting an incredibly attractive solution.
In addition, Microsoft – unlike AWS – has deep roots with enterprise businesses through its legacy programs. It understands what they need and delivers it via hybrid cloud, knowing the businesses with traditional data centers would move some but not all of their on-premises resources to the cloud.
Azure cloud migration services make it easy for businesses to migrate, and often with no modification. Scaling with Microsoft is also easy; you'll never have to switch hosts because you’ve outgrown their capabilities.
These benefits, plus many consumer's familiarity and trust in Microsoft make it a powerful competitor in the hosting industry.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) began as a cloud host used mainly by smaller companies and developers. It focused primarily on Linux and providing support for a variety of databases. It was easy to use and offered a pretty robust toolset.
In recent years, AWS has grown at breakneck speed. It’s constantly adding tools and functions, often so quickly even avid fans can't keep up. Current offerings include products to store, compute, and analyze data as well as security features, IoT offerings, and the ability to manage applications.
AWS also supports a broader range of databases than Microsoft, including both SQL and non-SQL databases. The company is highly involved in the development of AI and is touted for offering better support for Devs. AWS tends to offer very affordable hosting, as low as 50 cents for smaller sites, and has more data centers, which results in more availability and reduces latency issues.
If you are looking for a strong platform that handles virtually any cloud function no matter what operating system – AWS may be your best bet. The affordability makes it a strong competitor in a world of cheap hosting, where many hosts offer yearly hosting for just a few bucks a month.
Are Azure and AWS more secure?
Security is a significant focus in cloud storage, due to the number of high-profile hacking cases in recent years. Cloud storage is often viewed as more secure because it offers more protection from data loss, but security also falls to the cloud company itself.
On the security side, AWS offers certificate manager for SSL/TLS certificates, a hardware-based key management tool called CloudHSM, and Cloudtrail, which tracks user activity.
Azure offers security and management through Active Directory, a cloud-based access management system, which includes role-based access, and multi-factor authorization. It’s easily scalable, reliable, and already in use by many enterprise businesses.
The size and resources available to these massive companies allows them to offer security features that can easily eclipse what smaller hosts can offer.
What does this mean for the future of the hosting industry?
The major difference between AWS and Azure and traditional hosts is they offer far more than just hosting. Sure, customers who just want to launch a standard three page website may still turn to companies like GoDaddy and Bluehost, who offer basic hosting at affordable rates.
The larger, more tech-savvy companies, however, are likely to be attracted by putting their hosting under the same umbrella as their databases, content storage, and other web or security features. AWS and Azure also have access to far more resources, allowing them to offer more services and allow businesses to grow and scale easily.
As a whole, the shift to cloud hosting has the potential to make websites and databases more secure, faster, and allow businesses to scale quickly with few problems.
Long term, however, large companies like Amazon and Microsoft could take on a large portion of the market share, making it difficult to compete.