Cloud hosting is something that many people find confusing. Common questions that people ask include: ‘what exactly is ‘the cloud’?’; ‘how does it work?’ – and, the question on most people’s lips: ‘is it safe?’.
We’re going to answer all of those questions explaining why cloud hosting is a great idea.
What Exactly Is ‘The Cloud’?
The truth is, ‘the cloud’ has become a part of everyday life in the 21st century. Indeed, you’re probably already using it without knowing it. There are cloud storage systems, such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and OneDrive, which give you instant access to your files and documents. All you require is an internet connection (whether that’s using WiFi or Mobile Data). Online banking systems and social media networks also make use of cloud-based services.
Essentially, what ‘the cloud’ means is that rather than things being stored on your device or computer, they run through the internet. Streaming services such as Netflix, for example, don’t store the content on your computer (or whatever device you use) – it’s accessed via your internet connection.
It makes it easier for you and the service provider (unless you have a really poor internet connection, of course). Cloud computing uses virtual servers and physical servers around the world to create a (mostly) reliable means of giving people access to what they need when they need it.
How Does Web Hosting Using ‘The Cloud’ Work?
There are many advantages to cloud hosting, which we’ll run through in a moment. First, let’s run through how cloud hosting works. If you’re familiar with the concept of web hosting, you’ll know that hosting hinges on servers. These are powerful computers that store data, websites, etc. and deliver that content, via the internet, whenever it’s requested. (It’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s a server in a nutshell).
In the past, the cheapest option for web hosting was ‘shared hosting’, where a large number of websites share a single server – so there’s competition for things like bandwidth, which can affect performance. With cloud hosting, the problems associated with shared hosting are radically reduced.
Cloud hosting uses hundreds of different servers (located around the world) to effectively create one huge virtual server. This means that power, bandwidth and resources can be drawn from many different servers, so you don’t have to worry about competition for server resources.
Because you’re not depending on your shared portion of a single server, you don’t have the worries that come with shared hosting. High traffic and big traffic spikes are no problem for cloud hosting. What’s more, if one server goes down, another server can take its place, meaning that there’s little likelihood of downtime.
Advantages of Cloud Hosting Solutions
There are plenty of great reasons why you should be looking at cloud hosting for your business in 2019. Let’s run through the top three advantages for you and your business:
When you do a lot of your business online, one of the most important things you’re going to be looking for is stability. You need your customers to be able to access your website, use your app or purchase goods and services from your online shop. Unless you have a dedicated server, stability and uptime can never be 100% guaranteed – and even with a dedicated server, things can go wrong and impact on your business.
With cloud hosting, however, the use of multiple servers to host your online content means that you don’t have to worry about downtime, or slow site speeds due to traffic spikes on other websites using the same server. Your data and content is regularly backed up, there are always other servers available to take up the slack, meaning you can have a fast and efficient website that will benefit your business.
The flexibility of cloud computing and hosting solutions is a big selling point that has converted many businesses from other hosting options. Flexibility in cloud hosting means that if you need more resources – for example during a promotion when you expect much more traffic and customer demand in terms of downloads or streaming – the server automatically compensates. The resources available with cloud hosting are virtually unlimited, so you don’t have to stress about the issues that you’d have to worry about with other forms of hosting.
Cloud hosting is about more than just websites, however. If you run a business where you have employees who need remote access to business-specific applications that would normally need to be installed in-house, cloud hosting can give access to cloud-based versions. This can save you money by reducing the need to provide employees with computers. It also provides the option of resolving technical issues remotely too.
Likewise, cloud hosting can allow you to offer customers cloud-based apps rather than apps that have to be installed on a device. As cloud computing grows in popularity, the ability to offer this kind of solution is becoming more important to businesses.
In the future, a majority of people will likely expect to have applications that can be accessed virtually. So it’s wise to get ahead of the competition. The reliability of cloud based hosting means that your customers are much less likely to encounter problems with online apps. Happy days all round as both you and they can enjoy peace of mind.
Is Cloud Hosting Safe?
In an age where it’s common to hear about data security breaches, there’s no wonder people tend to question whether cloud hosting – or any other kind of hosting for that matter – is safe. The answer to the question isn’t necessarily the one you want to hear, either. If you’re wanting a guarantee that your data is 100% safe and secure, then I’m afraid there’s no hosting – or online – service that can make that promise.
For 100% security guarantees, you’d need to go back to handwriting documents that you lock in a filing cabinet that only you have a key for. In the 21st century, that probably isn’t the most practical solution. Not to mention that if you’re handwriting is anything like my illegible scrawl even you may struggle to decipher what you’ve written!
When it comes to cloud hosting, there are steps that you can take to increase security and ease both your own concerns and those of your customers. In fact, both you and your customers have responsibilities with regard to safeguarding data.
For example, whilst it’s up to you to reduce the risks of data being hacked and ensure that data is kept confidential, your customers need to ensure that they use secure passwords and never reuse the same password on another site.
Additionally, your cloud hosting provider has a responsibility to make sure that there’s a data isolation procedure in place. This includes making use of logical storage. They may offer additional security measures such as encryption, business continuity and data recovery.
To sum up, let’s run through the main pros and cons of using cloud hosting for your business.
Cloud Hosting Pros
• Cheaper than a dedicated server
• More reliable than shared hosting
• Unlimited access to resources to handle increased traffic
• Virtually no risk of downtime
• Server scalability – increased resources when you need them
Cloud Hosting Cons
• Security concerns (although these affect other types of hosting, too)
• More expensive than shared hosting (if you’re on a tight budget)