Cloud Hosting – A Beginner’s Guide

It seems that you can’t discuss tech these days without the term cloud coming up. But what does it mean exactly and how does it relate to web hosting?

If you’re not super technical, or don’t have in depth IT knowledge, this post should help to clarify the whole concept of cloud hosting and how it translates to benefits for your business .

The Cloud Defined

Lots of cloud discussions refer to cloud computing, which is basically a network (often the internet) that links together devices and services. Cloud hosting is web hosting, delivered with the cloud model. It’s a service that brings together, virtually, the power of several servers that work together to share and deliver resources – in other words to keep your business online and humming along. You don’t just have one server at your disposal. You have as many as you need.

Once you have an understanding of the concept of cloud hosting, the next step is understanding the terminology that is often associated with it. These are often framed as benefits of cloud hosting, so it’s important to understand what these mean for your business and its IT set-up to decide whether cloud hosting is the right fit for you.

Scalability

Scalability refers to the ability to access more resources for your website as you need them and paying for what you use. It’s very much like how we are charged for utilities, such as gas. A cloud hosting environment can easily accommodate more resources – it’s set up just for that. It can handle huge amounts of data if need be. Or not. This is scalability.

Resources refer to what is actually available to power a website or applications. If you run a server, there is only so much it can do. It can’t handle a load that would require 10 times its power. It’s not physically possible.

A scalable solution means that if you need more, you can get more. If you need less, then you’ll use less. Cloud hosting gives you resource options. You’re not tied into what you initially purchased. This translates to cost savings for your business, since you’re only charged for what you need and use.

Here’s an example. Bob runs a sporting goods business that specializes in hockey and other winter time sports. Every year, he runs a big sale. With e-commerce implemented on his site, he always sees brisk business with the sale, and a major spike in website traffic. If his web hosting plan is scalable, then he pays for the usage during this busy time and he’s good to go. If his web hosting is not scalable, then he could have visitors experiencing trouble with accessing the site or getting slow access and load times. He could have his account suspended for going over usage and he has to deal with finding a solution during his busiest time. Or he could be paying for the additional capacity for the entire year, when he only really needs it for the month of the sale.

And if your business expands, a cloud hosting plan can easily accommodate that. So if Bob’s business grows and he starts selling summer time equipment too, he doesn’t have to look for a new web hosting plan or even a new provider if his current one can’t keep up. He just ramps up his cloud.

Infrastructure and Management

In hosting, infrastructure refers to what physical ly runs the website on the back end. It could be actual hardware, such as a physical server. It could be a software program. Whatever “it” is, it requires maintenance and management. Keeping these tasks in-house means that your business has to pay for them. Whether by having an IT employee, or hiring a consultant to maintain the infrastructure.

Cloud hosting removes this piece of the hosting puzzle. The infrastructure is provided by and managed by the host. Software updates are handled seamlessly and easily. If you need a new software application, you just need to add it to your plan subscription. Any reputable cloud host will offer 24/7 expert support.

If you do have an IT person in house, or a web developer, cloud hosting also makes their job easier and frees them up from managing servers and software updates, so they can focus on other more business critical tasks.

Redundancy
Redundancy in cloud hosting refers to the fact that the infrastructure in the cloud is redundant – there is always something else to step in and do the job. With any quality cloud hosting plan you should see redundant power, bandwidth, servers, and storages all included. So that your business is covered no matter what.

Let’s look at another example. Bob’s website is running on server A and this server suddenly has a problem or malfunctions in some way. Bob’s website slows down or even goes down completely. Not a pretty picture.

Without cloud hosting, the server problem itself needs to be addressed. There isn’t a plan (or server) B. Bob’s website will be down until the server is fixed or manually changed over. Or alternatively Bob needs to pay for and maintain an inventory of servers.

With the cloud, server B is always ready to step in and take over.
With cloud hosting, there is no single point of failure that can bring your business’ online presence to a grinding halt. And the best part? Customers and visitors won’t notice a thing. All this shifting around happens so quickly on the back end that user experience is not affected in any way.

Security
In the web hosting world, security generally refers to how safe your data is. How exactly does it translate to the cloud?

Well, for one it’s the cloud hosting company running the show. Rather than you or someone on your team. And any reputable host is running a good show. They are putting out the resources to deliver a quality cloud hosting environment. They definitely have access to a lot more power than your business operating on its own would.

Quality hosts always have security on the brain. They’ve got maintenance, upgrades and monitoring on their radar, always. And if you need backups or a plan for disaster recovery, they can help consult with you on and the best options for your business.

So in a nutshell, cloud hosting is a great fit for small-to-mid sized businesses that…

  • see seasonal traffic spikes and don’t have the same resource requirements throughout the year.
  • don’t have dedicated IT staff in-house.
  • are looking for ways to cut costs on hosting, infrastructure and resource management.
  • need website and application management to be really easy.
  • have outgrown what standard shared hosting can offer and need a more comprehensive, powerful plan that doesn’t break the bank.

The above should help to give you a better understanding of the cloud and whether it’s the right fit for your business. If you still have some questions or would like some expert input, our team would love to talk to you further about our cloud hosting Canada wide and what it can do for you. Contact us today.