What is Cloud Web Hosting?
Cloud Web Hosting
Unlike traditional web hosting based on conventional non-cloud storage, Cloud web hosting service providers take care of the total service. A premium web hosting service provider says ‘we’ll do all the heavy IT lifting, you just get on with what you need to do’. Why should you care what’s going on with some other CPU cores? Why would you want to do IT yourself? Let someone else do it. With Cloud, all the massive complexity of performing tasks using remote resources – storage but also rendering and complex calculations – is typically hidden behind an easy to use control panel user interface. That’s it – so far as you are concerned.
That is not the case with web services using physical storage like a DAS, NAS or SAN. You may not even be in an organization (or a small business that has no in-house IT customer support). Unlike Cloud which can have a quality of service clause, with DAS there is no money-back guarantee if it all goes wrong. A good premium web service cloud contract takes care of all that hassle.
Pro and cons of Cloud hosting
Compared to putting together a multi-vendor ‘mix and match’ web hosting on DAS (direct-attached storage, like USB sticks, flash drives etc.) or Network Attached Storage (NAS) this is how Cloud web hosting shapes up:
- Just as CPU’s have – up to a point, followed the so-called Moore’s Law curve of progression, (so the argument goes) so has DAS storage. You get a lot of DAS (or NAS) today for not very much and you could just try a ‘homebrew’ solution. That’s not in reality a great argument as we’ll see below.
- As a way of storing data, DAS has obvious downsides versus Cloud: It’s not great for collaborative working, it can get lost, it can get stolen, or destroyed in a fire or flood, or otherwise damaged etc. etc. And you have to buy DAS via Capex (and it can be hard to know how much to buy).
So, what about web services using shared DAS – like a NAS or SAN? The pros and cons of Cloud are a little different when compared more deeply to NAS or SAN topologies:
An organization-wide shared NAS or SAN on Ethernet or for SAN a fiber network topology, for central storing, has all the advantages of DAS plus more ability to move or share.
However, NAS & SAN solutions come with downsides, like big complexity to setup and ongoing maintenance.
Cloud is in theory infinitely scalable. With a NAS or SAN, a scale-up is another complicated topic.
The 8 Secrets of what to look for purchasing Cloud Web Hosting
- Speed. Speed of writing to and reading from the cloud can be mission-critical for some people. It’s horrible working with any kind of lag, pretty much whatever you are doing. It’s especially an issue if for example, you want to stream video – there you are making that great client presentation on your slick marketing video freezes. Be sure of robust delivery.
- Caching. This is often related to speed – does the service provider cache your frequently needed or high volume content for faster access? If so, how much?
- Uptime (no downtime). Protection from outages or reduced user performance due to maintenance, or the amount of traffic, or faults, or DDoS is another major topic. How good is their disaster recovery in reality? You don’t want apologies, you want guaranteed performance. Also – is there a live chat with a human?
- Price. Do not be fooled by headline-grabbing prices. Look at the real TCO (total cost of ownership) i.e. all aspects of costs vs. benefits when comparing vendors.
- Disc (storage) space. The whole point of Cloud is that it should scale more easily and cheaply than a DAS storage solution. If it doesn’t scale as much as you need at a price that looks fair, go look elsewhere and see if there is a better deal.
- Security. Does it include SSL (Secure Sockets Layer?) You may have very sensitive information. You want it kept secure. Do you get a free SSL certificate? Is it HIPAA – compliant?
- Bonus features. Does it include email? A free domain? How slick is the backup of your work during the day?
- How is migration handled? If you want to move or consolidate data, how hard is that to do? How well does it work, how long might it take and what are the real costs in practice?
Your choice of cloud web hosting should be done based on objectivity and a bit of homework, not just on a headline. For example, we have seen in two of our five candidates that you need to be really clear upfront about what your use case looks like going forward, as there can be hidden costs that will bite you later.
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