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What is LAMP Hosting?
When you build a website, you need somewhere for it to live. That's where a Web host comes into the picture. Of the various types of Web hosts, LAMP is currently the most popular.
What is LAMP?
LAMP is an acronym that originally stood for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. These elements form what is commonly referred to as a "stack," or collection of programs that work together. Since all the elements are open-source, and can therefore be replaced with alternative applications, LAMP can also refer to a generic software stack, although the original configuration is still one of the most popular.
Linux is a free, open-source, UNIX-style operating system originally developed by Linus Torvalds. Because it is open-source, and therefore open to customization, many different companies and organizations have developed their own flavors, or distributions, of Linux. Many of these distributions are optimized for different purposes, including Web hosting.
Apache is an open-source HTTP server application. At the time of writing, Apache is used to drive 58.9% of known websites, making it the most commonly used Web server in the world, a distinction it has enjoyed since April, 1996.
MySQL is the most popular open-source database in use. It boasts over 100 million installations throughout its history, and is heavily used to power Web applications. Its ease-of-use, stability and performance have been significant factors in its widespread adoption.
PHP is a server-side scripting language that processes requests, accesses the MySQL database and helps generate Web pages for Apache to serve.
Perl and Python have become popular alternatives to PHP. Both languages are high-level programming languages that excel at scripting and parsing text, making them ideal for Web-based use.
Despite its popularity, LAMP is by no means the only Web server stack in use. Because each of the components are free and open-source, variations have sprung up that replace one or more of the included elements.
For example, WAMP is the same software stack running on Windows rather than Linux. Similarly, WIMP goes a step further, replacing Apache with Microsoft's IIS.
Often, these variations arise out of a need to support specific software. Businesses and organizations that rely heavily on Microsoft technology may find that a Windows-based stack better suits their needs.
For most other organizations, however, LAMP is usually a more attractive option, due to its free, open-source nature.
LAMP has a proven track record of running some of the world's biggest, most complex websites and applications. Its free, open-source nature has been a major factor in its adoption, but free only goes so far. LAMP's capabilities and scalability have stood the test of time.
As a result, the vast majority of Web hosting companies offer at least one, if not several, LAMP configurations, and many exclusively support LAMP. Since the various components are freely available, it is possible to run a LAMP server from your desktop machine. This is rarely, if ever, an ideal solution, however, as the hardware and Internet connection of a standard desktop machine are not on par with a dedicated server.
With a fully managed LAMP hosting solution, your website is hosted on hardware specifically configured to withstand the rigors of Web hosting. A hosting company can also guarantee the necessary bandwidth to ensure your website functions smoothly, regardless of the number of visitors.
Most importantly, with a fully managed solution, the hosting company is responsible for the maintenance, updates and security of your LAMP server.
Although the various components of a LAMP server may be free, using a fully managed service obviously comes at a cost. Even so, this is often less than competing products, since the hosting company has lower overhead using open-source software.
LAMP Pros & Cons
- Free components
- Lower end-user cost for fully managed hosting
- Proven track record
- May not work for some Windows-based shops
Points to Remember
LAMP hosting is virtually the de facto standard for modern Web hosting. Thanks to its widespread use, there are a wealth of available options. If you're looking for a near-perfect blend of features, reliability, scalability and price, you'll be hard pressed to improve on a LAMP-based setup.