Understanding the Differences Between Cloud Hosting and Cloud Computing

Kyung Y.
Kyung Y.
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The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) that began in 2011 has drastically changed how we use technology. From AI to IoT, new technologies are built to make companies more efficient. They reduce costs and increase their competitive advantage. Digital transformation is no longer a nice-to-have – it's essential to business success.

Among other things, this transformation has given rise to cloud-based solutions. The cloud allows companies of all sizes to access the advantages of enterprise computing resources. All without the cost and complexity associated with traditional IT infrastructures.

However, many people are still confused by the terms "Cloud Hosting" and "Cloud Computing," which sound similar but, in fact, mean different things. Today, we will explore the differences between the two.


Cloud hosting refers to hosting websites or applications on a cloud server, allowing for scalable and flexible hosting solutions.

Cloud computing, on the other hand, is a broader term that contains a wide range of services, such as hosting, data storage, virtualization, and more, delivered via the internet. In short, cloud hosting is a part of cloud computing.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Before we dive into further differences between cloud hosting and cloud computing, it's important to understand what "the cloud" is. At its most basic, the cloud is a metaphor. It refers to software, platforms, and infrastructure hosted remotely on the web. Traditionally, these resources were hosted on physical servers in a single location (i.e., an office or data center). Cloud computing can access these resources from anywhere with an internet connection.

The cloud comprises physical hardware, such as servers and storage devices, as well as software elements that enable remote access to these resources. It's essentially an ecosystem of virtualized resources that can be accessed from anywhere. When pooled together, these resources can be used for various purposes. You can build applications, store and analyze data, enable machine learning, and more.

Popular cloud computing providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. These providers have invested billions of dollars in providing services to their customers. There are four methods of cloud resource deployment:

  • Public Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider (e.g. AWS) and made available to the general public over the internet.

  • Private Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is dedicated to a single organization and operates solely for that organization.

  • Hybrid Cloud: A combination of both public and private clouds, allowing organizations to utilize the benefits of both models and to have more control over their data and applications.

  • Community Cloud: The cloud infrastructure is shared by multiple organizations with similar requirements and concerns and may be managed by a third-party provider or by the organizations themselves.

Cloud Service Models

If cloud computing is all about accessing and managing resources remotely, what can you do with it? Cloud computing has been around for over a decade, and this technology has evolved significantly in that time. Here are the three main service models of cloud computing:

Cloud Service Models Users

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model wherein the cloud provider supplies virtualized infrastructure components. It is the most basic cloud computing service and the most cost-effective. Virtual machines, cloud storage, and virtual networks are popular IaaS offerings.

Let’s say a company needs a server to host its website or application. Instead of buying and maintaining physical hardware, they can simply rent a virtual machine in the cloud with IaaS and have it up and running within minutes.

Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model that providers customers with an on-demand platform. They can use it for developing, testing, deploying, and managing applications. Instead of building their infrastructure from scratch, customers can access a preconfigured environment to use as a foundation.

PaaS typically includes operating systems, databases, web servers, application servers, and other services managed by the cloud provider. Instead of installing and managing each of these components individually, customers can access them as part of a single package.

Examples: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure App Service, Google App Engine.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a cloud computing model that provides access to applications hosted in the cloud. It is the most customer-friendly cloud computing service and is often used for consumer-facing applications such as email, office productivity, customer relationship management (CRM), and more.

With SaaS, customers don't have to worry about installing or managing software on their own machines. They simply access the applications they need from the provider's servers and pay for them as a subscription service. Everything is done via the web, so all the customer needs is an internet connection and a web browser.

Examples: Salesforce, Google Workspace, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Slack, Intercom.

In summary, these cloud service models each include the following components.

Cloud Service Models Infographic

What Is Cloud Hosting?

With that in mind, you probably saw some similarities between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and cloud hosting. That's right. Cloud hosting is simply a part of the larger cloud computing ecosystem. Depending on the type of website and the hosting provider, cloud hosting can fit anywhere between IaaS and PaaS.


Cloud hosting is a type of hosting service that uses resources from a distributed network of computers, or "cloud," to store and manage websites. This type of hosting eliminates the need for expensive dedicated hardware and allows customers to scale their websites up or down as needed.

The main benefit of cloud hosting compared to traditional shared hosting is that it uses a network of servers to host websites, so if one server fails, another can take its place, improving overall uptime and reliability. Shared hosting, on the other hand, relies on a single server, which can lead to downtime if the server experiences issues. If you want to learn more about web hosting and the different available types, check out our article on the basics.

Where Can You Find Cloud Hosting?

If you own a website and would like to leverage the benefits of cloud hosting, there are a few options you can consider. The first option is to use an IaaS provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. You would then have to configure the servers and applications yourself or use a third-party service to do it for you.

The other and most common option for a website is to use a managed cloud hosting service (PaaS), which comes with preconfigured server settings for better performance and scalability, a user-friendly dashboard, one-click installation options, and a lot more to make your life easier. Plus, you often get access to additional features like free SSL certificates and daily backups - all included in the price of your plan.

To help you make the right choice, visit our Best Picks for cloud hosting services or jump to our Finder Tool for a personalized recommendation.

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Software engineer with a weakness for collecting too much data. I live for web hosting and cloud computing. If I’m not online, I like to go fishing and create weird things with my 3D printer.