The History of Web Hosting Service – How it All Began?
Not that long ago, web hosting was something totally different. Data centers worth billions of dollars that drain more electricity than smaller cities was science fiction thirty years ago. Even when hosting became a business, nobody imagined that it would grow to be this big.
In fact, the hosting industry is so big, that it overtook the airline industry when it comes to pollution. Not a good thing to brag about, but it is a good parameter to understand the size of the web hosting business.
But the truth is- nobody thinks about hosting, but everyone uses the internet. Every single website we visit each day is hosted on a server, somewhere.
That is the reason why we decided to create this short throwback into the web hosting history. Together, we will learn how it all started, how it developed, and what can we expect. Stay tuned.
Workstations, the first form of hosting life. When the internet became a thing, these lone wolves were the beating hearts of the internet. Workstation is just a regular office computer that serves as a server for a certain website. To put it mildly- workstations were endangered species. They were positioned lowest in the food chain, and had many predators- cups of coffee, clumsy feet, vacuum cleaners, power spikes and losses.
There was only one way a site could be online non-stop- the host PC had to be on. All the time. If someone would pull the cable by mistake- site down. Spill coffee on it? Site down.
Component malfunctioning or dead? Site down. Sudden power loss? Site down. There were simply far too many factors, just too much was depending on the health of a single PC. And people needed to figure out a quick solution, as the internet was growing rapidly. And like always, we did.
People came up with the first solutions fairly quickly. Instead of having lone server PCs separated all over the office(s), why not put them all together in a single place? Also, restrict access to that room. And while they are in there, put them higher above the ground, and locked, keeping them safe from water, coffee spills and vacuum cleaners. Dedicate a team of experts whose only job is to take care of them. Those were all good ideas and voila, first data centers were born.
Also, data centers took care of some other drawbacks workstations had. “All eggs in one basket” workstation concept was abandoned. Redundant hardware and frequent (daily) backups make sure no data ever gets lost. And if something bad does happen, changes can be reverted really fast. But making sure nothing bad ever happens was the priority for every data center- to the point of paranoia. Power backup generators, UPS, fire and smoke detection systems, 24/7 video monitoring, all this combined with millions of dollars infused every year into the latest hardware, mixed with 24/7 support.
Hosting quickly became a huge industry, and more and more companies started competing, and trying to make a name for themselves.
Nowadays, hosting is an industry for itself. So many companies compete with each other by increasing the offer, and cutting the prices. The results are showing each day- more solutions show, some with an almost unimaginable level of abstraction.
Everything started with shared hosting – different websites hosted on a single server. The cheapest form of hosting is at the same time the least powerful. If some of the websites hosted on a shared server experiences unusually high traffic, the performance of all other sites hosted on the same server will suffer.
Trying to find a solution for problems of shared hosting lead people in a totally different direction- dedicate one server for one site. Dedicated servers were born- almost unlimited, raw performance, for the biggest websites. But also, the least economical solution. People had to buy more resources “just in case of traffic spikes”, to make sure their website stays active all the time. And with high prices, dedicated servers were not an ideal solution.
VPS- Virtual Private Servers came to fix the problem of both words. More powerful than shared, less expensive than dedicated hosting, VPS tries to have the best of both worlds. It gives you the power of a dedicated server, for a fraction of its price. How does it work? Well, VPS “reserves” a portion of a single server, just for your website. This way, if your website is idle, other websites with more traffic can use its resources. But as soon as traffic spikes, your websites starts taking its full, “reserved” hardware, and other websites need to back off. This ensures constant performance.
However, modern technology gave birth to something even more amazing- cloud hosting. With cloud hosting there is no reserving, no dedicating, no sharing- the website drains as much power as it needs. But also, when it does no longer need them, it “returns” the resources. Meaning- it always uses optimal amount of resources, so no wasting.
Also, “cloud” means that a server is hosted on many locations at the same time. Drawbacks of data centers (power consumption, natural disaster risks, etc.) were tackled. Cloud servers don’t have a single location- they are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. So no hurricane and earthquake can destroy a cloud data center, because cloud data centers do not exist.
Cloud servers are constantly backing themselves up on other cloud servers. So if something really bad happens, the copy of the cloud server will start running in 10 minutes, and at the same time it will start making another copy of itself on another server. Almost like meiosis. Also, distance from datacenters is no longer relevant- cloud servers are always near you, since they are spread all over the world. So no more strict rules “you get this much of disk space, CPU cores…”- cloud servers are always custom made to fit perfectly. They will appear, do the job, and disappear like they never existed.
One thing is certain- cloud technology is just catching up, and it is here to stay. Many years (if not decades) will pass until it reaches its full potential. Even today, some services that we use daily are totally cloud based (such as DropBox or NetFlix), but these are rare. One thing is certain- we will see more and more of these each year
The technology is rapidly changing the world around us, it is so easy to get carried away, and consider all this as normal, taking these achievements for granted. We should all take a step back, breathe in deeply and take a moment to pause and think about the beautiful things modern life allowed us to do.
Hosting is not beautiful, but it is essential for our way of living. It is something we don’t really think about, and yet we use the internet every single day.
Hosting is the backbone of the internet and we created this article to educate you, and remind ourselves how important it really is. We should be grateful to the army of smart people who were working hard (and still are) just to make our lives better (and to make millions of dollars while doing it). From simple workstations to cloud hosting, in just few decades- truly amazing!