What Is a Cloud Server? Types, Benefits and How to Back It Up

Cloud computing has revolutionized how organizations function, facilitating digital transformation and enabling them to embrace new ways of doing business. It is estimated that about 95% of businesses globally use cloud computing.

One of cloud computing’s most significant contributions to modern business is undoubtedly accessibility. It removes geographical barriers, enabling easy access to data, applications and IT resources from anywhere through cloud servers.

Cloud servers have become an inseparable part of today’s increasingly digitized business landscape, offering scalable and flexible solutions for hosting applications, data storage and various computing resources. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of cloud servers, exploring what they actually are, their differences from physical servers, their operational mechanisms, types, benefits, challenges and backup strategies.

You can also discover how Unitrends helps you back up and protect cloud workloads with Unitrends Backup Software.

What is a cloud server?

Before we discuss what a cloud server is, let’s take a step back to understand what a server is.

A server is a computer or system that is dedicated to managing network resources and providing services to other computers, known as clients, within a network. Its main purpose is to respond to client requests, whether they involve accessing files, running applications or providing other types of services.

Servers are designed with specialized hardware and software configurations optimized for their specific roles. They come in various types, each serving different purposes. Some common types of servers include file servers, web servers, database servers, mail servers and application servers. Servers typically operate continuously, ensuring that they are available to respond to client requests at any time.

Now that you have a good understanding of what a server is and its functions and types, let’s find out what a cloud server is.

A cloud server is like a physical server but exists virtually within a cloud computing environment, such as Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure. Cloud servers utilize virtualization to function as software-defined instances within a large network of interconnected servers. These servers are part of an extensive cloud infrastructure provided by a third-party service provider, which users can access and utilize computing resources on-demand, most commonly via the internet.

Cloud server vs. physical server

The primary distinction between a cloud server and a physical server lies in their infrastructure. Physical servers are tangible machines located on-premises while cloud servers exist virtually in the cloud. Unlike traditional physical servers, cloud servers do not rely on dedicated hardware. Instead, they harness the power of virtualization to exist as software-defined instances on a vast network of interconnected servers.

Scalability is a pivotal factor setting the two apart. Physical servers demand upfront investments in hardware, which makes adapting to changing business needs challenging. On the other hand, cloud servers offer unparalleled scalability, allowing users to effortlessly scale resources up or down as per their needs and pay only for what is consumed.

Like scalability, cost efficiency is another notable distinction. Physical servers require capital expenditures for hardware, real estate and maintenance. In contrast, cloud servers operate on a pay-as-you-go model, alleviating businesses from substantial upfront costs and enabling them to optimize expenses based on actual usage rather than investing in and maintaining dedicated hardware.

How does a cloud server work?

Cloud servers work on the principle of virtualization, wherein a physical server’s resources are partitioned into multiple virtual machines (VMs). These VMs act as independent servers, each capable of running its operating system and applications. They are allocated to users based on their computing needs. The underlying infrastructure, managed by the cloud service provider, ensures efficient resource utilization, dynamic scaling and redundancy for high availability. This virtualized approach offers unparalleled scalability, flexibility and cost-efficiency. Users can easily scale their resources based on their organizational needs, paying only for the computing power they use.

Types of cloud servers

Cloud servers come in various types, including:

Public cloud servers

Public cloud servers are perhaps the most recognizable type, characterized by shared resources hosted by third-party service providers. In this cloud computing model, resources, such as servers and storage, are made available to multiple users over the internet. Public cloud servers are known for their scalability, cost-effectiveness and the elimination of the need for users to manage the underlying infrastructure. While they offer advantages in terms of accessibility and cost, users share resources, which may lead to concerns about data security and privacy.

Private cloud servers

Private cloud servers, on the other hand, provide dedicated resources to a single organization. These servers can be hosted on-premises or by a third-party provider and their resources are not shared with other users. Private cloud servers offer enhanced control over security and customization, making them suitable for businesses with stringent compliance requirements or those dealing with sensitive data. While they may incur higher upfront costs compared to public clouds, the level of control and security can outweigh these considerations.

Hybrid cloud servers

Hybrid cloud servers are a strategic blend of both public and private cloud environments, allowing seamless movement of data and applications between them. This model enables businesses to optimize performance, security and cost-effectiveness by leveraging the scalability of public clouds while retaining control over sensitive data through private infrastructure. Businesses can strategically distribute workloads, placing sensitive data on private servers and utilizing the scalability of public clouds for less critical tasks.

What are the benefits of cloud servers?

The benefits of cloud servers extend far beyond mere technological advancements. Some key benefits of cloud servers include:

  • Affordability and cost efficiency: One of the primary advantages of cloud servers lies in their affordability and cost efficiency. Unlike traditional physical servers, cloud servers do not require substantial upfront expenses for hardware, maintenance and facilities. They operate on a pay-as-you-go model, allowing businesses to pay only for the computing resources they consume. This not only eliminates significant capital expenditures but also ensures optimal resource allocation, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Another key benefit of cloud servers is scalability and flexibility. In today’s dynamic business landscape, computing needs can fluctuate rapidly. Cloud servers empower businesses to scale their resources up or down in response to demand. Whether experiencing increased workloads or seeking to optimize costs during periods of reduced activity, the flexibility of cloud servers allows businesses to adjust seamlessly without the constraints of physical hardware limitations.
  • Reliability and availability: Reliability and availability are critical aspects of any IT infrastructure, and cloud servers excel in these domains. Cloud service providers implement redundant systems and data centers, minimizing the risk of downtime. In the event of hardware failures or disruptions, the workload is seamlessly transferred to alternative servers, ensuring the availability of resources and uninterrupted operations.
  • Accessibility and global reach: With data and applications hosted in the cloud, users can access resources from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. This accessibility not only facilitates remote work but also opens avenues for global collaboration. Cloud servers enable organizations to transcend geographical boundaries, fostering a collaborative and interconnected business environment.

What are the challenges of cloud servers?

While cloud servers offer a plethora of advantages, they are not without their challenges, and understanding these obstacles is crucial for businesses navigating the complexities of cloud computing. Some challenges include:

  • Compliance and regulations: Compliance and regulations pose a significant challenge for organizations leveraging cloud servers, particularly in industries with stringent data protection requirements. Data residency laws and industry-specific regulations may demand that certain data be stored within specific geographic locations.
  • Downtime and outages: Downtime and outages are perennial concerns in the world of cloud computing. Despite the robust infrastructure of reputable cloud service providers, unforeseen events such as hardware failures, natural disasters or cyberattacks can lead to service interruptions. Downtime can have cascading effects on businesses, impacting productivity, customer satisfaction and revenue.
  • Data security: Data security remains a paramount challenge in the adoption of cloud servers. Entrusting sensitive data to third-party providers raises legitimate concerns regarding unauthorized access, data breaches and cyberthreats. While cloud service providers offer native security capabilities, users must also take proactive steps to secure their data.

Check out our concise checklist to learn more about fully protecting your cloud workloads.

How are cloud servers backed up?

Cloud servers employ various techniques to safeguard data and enable swift recovery in the face of unforeseen events:

  • Automated backups: Regular automated backups are a cornerstone of cloud server backup procedures. Scheduled backups create snapshots of server states at predefined intervals, providing restore points that mitigate the impact of data loss. These backups often include both data and system configurations, enabling comprehensive recovery.
  • Redundancy: Redundancy is another critical aspect of cloud server backup. Data is frequently replicated across multiple servers or geographic locations. This redundancy not only enhances fault tolerance but also ensures that even if one server encounters issues, the data remains accessible from alternative sources.
  • Snapshots: Snapshotting is a technique wherein a point-in-time copy of the server’s disk state is created. This snapshot serves as a reference for restoring the server to a specific state, offering a rapid and efficient recovery mechanism.

How Unitrends can help you with cloud server backup

Comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plans are critical to leveraging cloud technologies securely and effectively. They facilitate the restoration of data in the event of a disaster, ensuring business continuity and minimizing downtime.

Unitrends Endpoint Backup with Disaster Recovery is a unique, turnkey solution for backup and disaster recovery. It seamlessly integrates direct-to-cloud backup, ransomware protection and robust disaster recovery features, eliminating the need for deploying and maintaining a separate appliance. Our solution allows you to manage all backup and recovery functionalities effortlessly through a user-friendly web-based interface.

Unitrends ensures continuity for your data with server backup software designed for cloud backup and disaster recovery. Our solution does not require local hardware, saving you time and reducing the total cost of ownership.

With a global cloud presence spanning multiple regions, Unitrends supports geo-redundant backups. Additionally, backups replicated to the Unitrends Cloud are stored on a private cloud tenant and written to immutable storage on encrypted disks for maximum protection.

Our cloud-based server backup solution includes backup, replication, cloud storage, screenshot verification, ransomware detection, disaster recovery (DR) testing and DR, all available for a flat fee, with no variable or hidden costs.

Ensure the resilience of VM workloads in public clouds like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud with Unitrends. Request a demo today.


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