In part 1 and 2 of Back to Basics, we discussed traditional data center hosting (colocation and dedicated leased servers). Now we will cover the current hot topic, cloud hosting. Again, recall the trade offs that you should consider when choosing a hosting solution:

  1. Laying out money for large capital purchases
  2. Having the right skills for managing the infrastructure
  3. Importance of security & uptime
  4. Obtaining standards compliance and certifications
  5. Convenience

There is obviously a lot of buzz surrounding cloud services today. Cloud solves certain problems that no other hosting service has been able to solve, and convenience plays a big role. However, it is important to be well informed of all the pros and cons of cloud before diving right in.

What are the key benefits to cloud hosting?

Convenience: You can bring up a new server in seconds rather than hours, days, or even weeks. How does that work? You get a cloud portal where you log in, and once you do so you have a wide range of resources available to you like compute, network, and storage resources. By pressing a few buttons, you provision these resources exactly to your specific needs and have them up and running literally in seconds. Also, warranty and repair issues are of no concern because that is taken care of by the data center.

Scalability: Your cloud server can quickly and easily be scaled up or down according to your needs. You might have set up a cloud server in the portal but now find a need to upgrade the CPU, RAM, or storage resources. Again, by clicking a few buttons, you have a higher performance server ready to go in seconds without touching any hardware or having to restore or reconfigure applications. These capabilities are extremely powerful.

Cost Savings: First, no need to purchase any physical hardware. Second, depending on what type of cloud package you choose, you often have the option of pay-as-you-go pricing. You only pay for what you use, and can view your current billing at any time via the cloud portal.

Security: You get the reliable and secure environment that comes with hosting in a data center.

Focus: You and your staff can focus completely on your platforms and/or applications rather than IT infrastructure. This could give you a critical strategic edge.

There are other key benefits to cloud hosting, such as high availability options, configurable security, and more. Additionally, you can get any of the the same managed services on a cloud server as with a leased dedicated server, like data backups, monitoring, and operating system patch updates.

Is there anything a cloud server can’t do that a dedicated leased server can?

To be honest, today not a lot. However, if you use a large amount of resources your cloud server(s) can get quite expensive. If you have intensive database applications, very high RAM or CPU resource needs, or are especially concerned about the highest levels of security, a leased dedicated server or colocation, using high performance systems, will be your best and most cost effective option. Many companies use cloud servers for testing, development, and production applications that don’t need the most in performance and security.

Also, there are some industries and jurisdictions in which regulation prevents companies from moving the entire extent of their IT to the cloud. If you need to meet certain compliance, be sure to do some research before deciding to host all of your data in the cloud. Hyrbid solutions can often be a viable option in this case.

Click here to view the infographic.

Is cloud hosting right for my business?

Do you have the following characteristics?

  1. The need to move fast, build and upgrade servers in real time
  2. Staff that needs to focus on applications, not IT infrastructure
  3. A desire to focus spending on your core business, not IT infrastructure
  4. A need for standards compliance
  5. Don’t need extreme performance for your application

If you identify with most or all of these characteristics, cloud servers may be the right choice for you.

If not, stay tuned for part 4, Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid environments are a big trend that we will likely see most companies adopt in the near future. Hybrid environments take the best of all worlds, allowing you to select the best solution for each operation, creating an optimized architecture. We will unravel Hybrid Cloud in the last part of this series.