What is Grid Hosting? Is it Better Than Shared Web Hosting?

by Ryan Smith August 31, 2009

Bloggers are looking for the best value web hosting available.  For a long time, shared web hosting was the only option available for individuals looking for a cost-effective way to have an online presence.  Shared web hosting is possible because one server box is able to host hundreds of different web sites.  The cost of maintaining and administrating the server is shared among the hosted sites.  Likewise, shared hosting implies that each site is allocated a portion of the server’s resources.  When there is a surge in web traffic to one of the sites sharing server space, it is usually the administrator’s option to temporarily make unavailable the site receiving increased traffic.

A cost-effective alternative to shared web hosting is grid hosting.  A grid is composed of over the counter computers connected to a network.  One notion of the grid is scalability.  Grid hosting is highly scalable simply because the computers comprising the grid are essentially stand-alone units.  The network operating system is responsible for handling out tasks to each member computer.  Each member of the grid contributes to the completion of the grid’s overall task. Gris hosting is very similar to the work done by a cloud company but there are certainly some stark differences.

When the network load approaches grid capacity, all it takes is just a flip of a switch to bring additional computers to life thus scaling up the grid’s output.

Grid hosting is able to handle traffic surge gracefully.  Behind the grid are possibly thousands of commodity hardware assigned to do specific tasks like serving email, providing web services and database querying.   Increased load due to spikes in web traffic are simply distributed to the grid members.

The main difference between shared web hosting and grid hosting is scalability.  Shared hosts have fixed capacities.  It is somewhat ironic that popular sites on the shared host are punished and may face temporary unavailability of web content.  There is no such thing as fixed capacity on grid hosting.  An unknown site on a grid host may consume fewer resources.  Over time, the same site may gain popularity but the site is allowed to increase its utilization of the grid’s computing resources.

Because of scalability, popular sites served by a grid host are allowed to consume more computing resources.  Popular blogs on grid hosts won’t be taken down no matter how often they get slashdotted or dugg.  Of course, such sites may get higher monthly billings but the increased cost of hosting a popular site is always justified by the value of having a continuous online presence.

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith was the former Director of Operations for McKremie.

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