Understanding Virtual Windows hosting and its pros and cons requires knowledge of the various web hosting plans available. It also calls for the client to grasp how virtualization works. As far as web server hosting is concerned, it works like this: web hosting companies offer a variety of hosting methods. Each of these offerings falls into one of three broader categories. These categories are shared hosting, virtual private server hosting and dedicated hosting with a physical server. The complexity and cost of these three levels increase in that order.
On the lower end of the cost scale is shared hosting. In this style of web hosting, many web sites owned by various clients all live on one physical server. This server manages these sites with a web hosting program like IIS or Apache. With shared hosting, all sites on a given server compete for server resources, including bandwidth and memory. This can be contrasted with the most expensive hosting solution, dedicated server hosting. With this product, the hosting firm supplies a dedicated physical server that is devoted to a single client's site. Between these options is a middle ground hosting option called virtual private server hosting.
With virtual private server hosting, a company pays for access to a dedicated virtual server. A virtual server is a series of files that acts like a server, mimicking a physical machine's functionality and indistinguishable from a real server to the outside world. Powerful servers with a great deal of resources can host many virtual servers, decreasing to total cost of ownership. By buying hosting on a virtual private server, companies can get the benefits of a dedicated physical server without paying the higher fees associated with renting a dedicated server. When choosing a hosting plan, regardless of whether hosting is shared or dedicated, clients are allowed to choose the operating system of their server. The choice of OS is important with dedicated virtual or physical servers, since these plans actually give the client full administrative access to the server itself, allowing for a finer degree of control over the OS and web server applications. While Linux is the most popular choice when considering a web server operating system, Windows hosting is growing in popularity in both virtual and dedicated environments.
Technology: There are some applications that work much easier in Windows, like FrontPage and Access. Other popular software platforms like .Net Framework and .ASP aren't supported in Linux, only Windows. This also goes for Interdev and other Windows development programs. With more sites relying on .ASP, the popularity of Windows hosting is growing.
Cost: The benefit of any virtual private hosting option, regardless of operating system, is cost when compared to dedicated physical server hosting. A virtual server has its own operating system and dedicated resources and is functionally impossible to tell apart from a physical server according to users and other computers. This means that virtual hosting offers all the advantages of dedicated physical server hosting while eliminating the high cost associated with renting a real server.
Familiar Operating System: There are far more administrators in the IT marketplace who are familiar with Windows than those who are Linux experts. Companies who buy Windows virtual hosting are likely to already have staff ready and able to manage their servers, while those who go with Linux may have to hire extra staff, go with a consultant or pay the hosting company extra for administration.
Support: As an open source operating system, Linux's support options are limited. Yes, the many flavors of Linux have a dedicated following offering free advice and support in every corner of the web, but some companies may find this unreliable in an emergency. Companies who use Windows as their host OS can pay for 24/7 support from Microsoft and not worry about who will be helping when they're in a bind.
Considering the benefits of virtual Windows hosting, there are definitely instances where it just makes more sense to go with Windows, including: