Grid Computing – Hype or Next Generation of Hosting?

Everywhere you turn, people are talking about the latest trend in the hosting industry; grid computing. For those who have yet to hear about it, grid hosting is neither new or is it anything radically different; it is simply using server clusters to deploy enterprise level hosting.

Much fanfare has erupted especially over the likes of Media Temple, Amazon’s EC2, Rackspace’s Mosso and ServePath’s UtilityServe plus other newer entrants such as Netfirms, Concentric, and soon Superb Internet have resulted in a plethora of new grid computing offerings. Now that 3Tera has entered the ring with its new grid computing platform for other hosting companies, watch for this to become a hotly contested marketplace, with all the accompanying price wars and extravagant offerings.

Still, is this hype or is this the next generation of hosting? Actually it is neither; it is simply proven technology that has been thrust into the limelight by marketers and media alike.  With TechCrunch leading the way, eulogizing the power of grid computing and Amazon throwing its entire might behind its Elastic Compute Cloud  (EC2), it did not take long for an abundance of enthusiastic techno buffs to line up for the next evolution, unaware that this is more about who is providing the hosting, what sort of infrastructure does the company have in place and most of all, will it work for them.

A great example of this often being about technology acolytes who are blindly embracing the latest craze in deployment is EC2. Now do not get me wrong; EC2 definitely has got buzz and for some, it will be the right move – but not everybody. Most of all, it can really rack up your spend if you are not careful.  Still for those who are just starting out or up and want the ability to scale up quickly yet do not pay until they need it (always good to be careful with startup capital), EC2 works. Also if your content is important then you might want to think about looking else. Amazon does not guarantee that whenever you restart it, that it will necessarily be recovered.

As for it being cheap, well definitely there are some strong opinions on this. One of them is found at HostingFuAmazon Web Service is Expensive. Shane Conder’s “How Did I Miss Amazon EC2? is a good read about the comparison of EC2 to other types of hosting. Finally Jason Hoffman of Joyent has an excellent opinion called Why EC2 isn’t yet a platform for “normal” web applications?

Then there is MediaTemple. Talk about buzz. If having your name touted translated directly into $, MediaTemple would never even have to sell a single account. Yet like many things, there often exists a gap between the hype and reality. True MediaTemple has brought grid hosting into the limelight, and certainly everyone cannot be wrong. Still if more had been put into infrastructure and less into buzz, customers would be happier. Do a search on WebHostingTalk and you are sure to find numerous complaints regarding downtime and dependability issues. That said, MediaTemple, is sure to grow up and get things right. Already I am hearing more good than bad, so who knows.

Bottomline, grid computing is here to stay. We will soon launch our own grid hosting platform, code-named “Grid Iron” but when we do, it will be built on the foundation of our rock solid network, industry-leading experience and most importantly, with our customers in mind.

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