- Shared hosting - In this scenario, you get an account on a server, a database, some disk space, perhaps access to an email server, a web server, and one of a small number of web programming languages (usually PHP and one or two others). You also get technical support, and the quality of the support varies with the cost of the service.
- Private hosting - In this scenario, you get full operational ownership of a server or a virtual server. With the server you get a root account which lets you create as many accounts as you want, and you install the software and configure it to your liking.You also get technical support, also varying in quality with the cost of the service.
Shared hosting is usually free or very cheap. Private hosting is more expensive. With both shared and private hosting, Deployment and administration are about the same. You are responsible for file structure, permissions on directories, and getting the software to the server using FTP. You may also then be responsible to restart the application server and/or web server.
A new class of hosting has emerged which I'll call language-specific hosting. Here are the characteristics.
- The web host supports one language. e.g. Heroku.com supports Ruby running on the Rack framework. Cloudcontrol.com supports PHP. Google App Engine supports Python.
- Deployment is not done using FTP and files. It is done using a source-code control system interface by pushing a version-controlled set of files. Heroku.com uses a "git push" to deploy the code. Cloudcontrol.com uses a "bazaar push".
- Application and web server restarts are standardized. Heroku uses a hook on the git push to pack up the code and restart the application server. So does cloudcontrol.com.
- Standard parts means better support. Heroku only has to worry about the Ruby programming language and a single database (PostgreSQL). Cloudcontrol.com only supports PHP and MySQL. Other choices are limited and integrations are very well tested before going on a standard list of add-ons. Limited choices mean that the support people provide really good support for a small set of things.
- Well-integrated optional parts means fewer failure points. Heroku and cloudcontrol.com both support various add-ons for functionality such as database, application monitoring, email and messaging, et cetera. However each of these components is very well tested before being added to a standard list of add-ons.
Language-specific cloud hosting platforms are going to give cloud application developers and owners new productivity benefits in development and operations.