Most enterprises and organisations today rely on cloud services. In fact, government organisations even advise on its use in the public enterprise. The promise of the cloud and all its related services is seen to benefit the computing world .
As it continues to grow in size, the cloud industry also revises and improves its services and add-on products. Mostly, these improved services are due to the demand for better security, bigger storage and better scalability.
Let’s start from the basics. What is cloud hosting really?
What is Cloud Hosting
When one enterprise or website opt for cloud hosting, they will be provided with a service wherein their every resources are pulled and stored on a virtual service. 82% of companies said that by moving to the cloud, they saved money. Cloud hosting and computing in other words is a service where websites only pay for what they use and it comes as an alternative from single servers.
Most companies want the use of computing resources via cloud versus maintaining their own infrastructures in-house since it downsizes their IT needs. Several benefits of cloud computing and hosting have attracted businesses:
- Pay per use
- Self-service provisioning
These benefits can be gained from various computing services in terms of private, public and hybrid cloud. The type of cloud service though is mostly dictated by the type of business. With the needs to track paperwork like records and past transactions, multiplying them by hundreds and thousands, an in-house server is harder to manage. Plus, surveyed cloud hosting users are now employing the services to transfer and store their confidential data to the cloud.
In an infographic from computer world, the cloud is noted to be one in the top five technologies that companies spend on. It is topped by security technologies followed by cloud computing, BI, storage and wireless mobile. See the infographic below:
More Cloud and Industry Statistics
- 42% of IT experts plan to increase their cloud computing spending in 2016
- The global revenue for SaaS software is forecasted to reach 106 billion by the end of 2016, a 21% increase from 2015.
- The estimated compound annual growth rate of SaaS revenue by 2020 is 9.14% which will raise the current $78.43 billion SaaS revenue to 132.57billion.
- Over the next 12 months, IT executives will focus on security (36%), cloud computing (31%) and mobile device (28%).
- By 2016, it is forecasted that there will be an 11% shift from IT budget. Instead of in-house IT delivery, cloud computing models will be chosen.
- By 2018, it is predicted that more than 60% of enterprise will have at least half of their infra on cloud based platforms.
- The growth rate of cloud computing is five times higher than the global IT rate.
- Presently, 8 out of 10 Chief Infrastructure Officers (CIOs) get at least a part of their infrastructure delivered through private cloud
- 6 our 10 CIOs put cloud computing in top priority
- Out of the 50 million servers in the world,60% of it was virtualised already
- 84% of CIOs according to survey, reported that they have cut application costs since they moved to the cloud.
- 25% less of amount were spent by companies after they deploy their apps in the cloud
- In a survey, 25% will likely move their storage to the clouds if given a choice among their applications
- 82% of companies said they saved money after migrating to the cloud
- Within 6 months of migration, 800% of firms saw improvements
- In a survey, 56% of respondents believed that the cloud providers have the capability to protect sensitive data.
These various surveys may not prove exhaustive but they can act as a bird’s eye view on the future of cloud computing and how it is taking the world by storm, one cloud at a time.
Types of Cloud Hosting
There are three types of cloud mainly public, private and hybrid. Most firms use a combination of public and private infrastructures. The top public cloud services used by firms are Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
The public cloud, the most popular among the three. It is usually operated by third-party cloud providers. The public cloud has numerous users. Due to this, costs are divided among users making the service very affordable. And since it is public, resources across this type of cloud are efficiently shared. However, despite the obvious benefits, many critiques tag this type of cloud as one that is vulnerable to security threats compared to private cloud.
The public cloud boasts of several benefits which include pay as you go features, utility model, shared hardware, easy collaboration and self-management.
Public clouds have no contracts to bind users. So the length of time that you use the cloud doesn’t matter. It is an open negotiation wherein you may use the cloud for years or stop it after an hour or two of use. And since it’s pay as you go, the model is considered very economical.
Public cloud hosting is seen to be as a service that is best for companies from small to medium in size and those that have no issues over security and compliance requirements. It boasts of flexibility for start-ups which is why it is popular among those who are trying to test the waters of the cloud industry.
The private cloud is one that is most popular for large companies and enterprises that require strong security and compliance specifications. It is usually maintained on a private network and built solely for individual enterprises. Private cloud infrastructures can be On-Premise Private Cloud or Externally Hosted Private Cloud.
Since it is dedicated to single client, security can be customised on certain levels. Some companies would opt to moderate or increase security based on the sensitivity of data. Only those who are authorised by the company or the client enterprise are allowed into the system.
Public cloud hosting may have problem with compliance requirements. With the private cloud, it is an easy feat since all the hardware storage and configuration are just relegated to a single client. Plus it’s customisable which makes it easy to be moulded to the needs of the client.
Depending on the enterprise needs, private cloud can be used for hybrid deployment.
The Hybrid cloud, as its name suggest is a combination of the two previous cloud models. It is mostly noted for flexibility and scalability on demand.
Some enterprises that are on a fixed contract with private cloud hosting usually try to augment their needs with public cloud resources. For example sudden and unexpected workload are coming through their system so they may ask public cloud hosting to provide some features.
One setback of hybrid cloud though is maintenance. Companies need to track several security platforms and navigate through various cloud layers. Large companies with several employees to spare may assign operating personnel different levels of authority.
What About Dedicated Servers?
There is always a debate about whether the cloud will be able to take over the role of dedicated servers. However, we pointed out in our previous article Cloud hosting vs. dedicated servers that both may have their own advantages.
Dedicated servers are often best for those websites that expect 10, 000 hits a day. Compared to shared servers, dedicated servers don’t buckle once it picks up traffic thus it is famed for its reliability. It allows users to have root access, abundant disk space, privacy, accessibility, full server management and is less susceptible to attacks.
However, performance can be affected by rigid specs, limited ability for physical scaling, non-resiliency, problems with hardware, need for expert managers and expensive cost of maintenance.
On the other hand, cloud hosting is virtual, independent and does not need central software within the organisation to run efficiently. Cloud is noted for its fast service, regulated performance, controlled root access, disaster recovery, auto software updates, free capital expenditure and remote working.
Cons may include bandwidth limitation, downtime during internet loss, expensive, no hard drive and problems with data ownership.
The choice for the two is often dictated by the type of industry a company belongs to. For example if you’re a company with a large customer database and expect heavy traffic, go for the dedicated server. But if you have fewer employees and would want to cut on upfront costs, then go for the cloud.
But then, although dedicated servers are reliable, the cloud is the way to go for this changing world. Let’s continue to check on several other cloud hosting facts and whether it can live up to its name.
Benefits of Cloud for Business
Last year, Peter Magnusson, Google’s noted engineering director, was hired by Oracle to become its head on cloud-computing business. This seemed pretty normal with high-profile employees jumping ships but for the cloud, it simply mean one thing – it’s growing and focus on it is becoming huge now prompting companies to hire more people to advance the cause.
As forecasted by CISCO, the 2018 59% of the total cloud workloads will be SaaS workload. This is up from the 2013s 41%. This forecast, spanning global cloud index, compared the three types of workloads employed by cloud users which are SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
Taking a look at the figure below, you can note the forecast on SaaS increase followed by IaaS and PaaS.
On this note, and based on the statistics we already mentioned above, you can figure out the way that the cloud is going. And for that, let’s try to look at the benefit in-depth.
#1 Pay as you go basis
This is one benefit that most start-ups are grateful for. They can opt for a pay-as-you-go cloud and never be bothered by exceeding their budget. Clients rave over the “no-wasted-resources” part since they only pay for the services procured rather than using the payment for services you may or may not use. Amazon EC2 is a pay as you go method and only charge users for they use.
Users, like in Amazon EC2, are allowed to select CPU, memory, storage, OS, security, networking capacity and level of access control to run. Additional software may also be added and the users will only pay for this.
The PAYG benefit is available in IaaS or infrastructure as service where providers may charge per hour, days, week or months use or based on the amount of virtual machine used. There are per-minute pricing though for PaaS where the meter stops when one stops the VM while it still preserves the VM state and configuration. For SaaS, providers price based on the features, storage capacity and per use basis as chosen by the users.
#2 Utility model
Clients choose to by computing resources from central utility instead of generating it themselves. This is believed to deliver better service for less expense. For this, cloud is compared to a utility model an analogy to other services like electric power that doesn’t charge flat-rate but rather on resources used.
Another definition of utility model applied in computing is when it is carried out within a specific enterprise where everything is centralised without redundancy.
#3 No extra software licensing
The cloud needs no extra software licensing. The software you sign up for is the software that you get. The provider will be doing that for you. Updating and upgrading even will not be your concern. With the cloud, there would be less spending and your staff and personnel will also be spared from extra work.
Besides, licensing can be a bit complicated and some software can go obsolete after the release of new ones. With the cloud, switching software can be easy.
#4 Easy collaboration
Since everything is in the cloud, your employees across the globe will be able to have access on certain files. As long as they have the proper access given, they will be able to work alongside each other.
Also, the cloud may allow you to collaborate not only with the people employed within the company but with those who are outside also. When there is internet and the right access device, one can check everything from information to confidential documents easily. You can even do some real-time collaboration even if your employees are across the world.
Flexibility is one major thing that most cloud provider boast about. It’s one of the main reasons why companies are flocking to it.
Due to the cloud, most employees can manage to work even outside their workplaces. They can do their jobs and have access to their previous works even if they are on travel. Remote access contributes to the productivity of employees. This helps even companies since data needed is not just limited to one stationary device like a desktop computer. For those with multiple websites, it helps in the accessibility as well.
With the wide of mobile, cloud also complement mobile computing. And with today’s changing world, the capacity to be flexible is one valuable asset.
In the old practice, downsizing or up-scaling of servers can be hard. With the use of the cloud, it is now possible. Companies, from small to medium to large can now increase their resources without the need to change their current IT systems.
This is more likely to benefit start ups since they need not to worry about their storage size.
#7 Environment friendly
Aside from the absence of hardware from the premises of the company, the use of the cloud also reduces paperwork. First this means usage of electricity, power and energy is lessened same as with the use of paper.
In-house servers are forgone and instead it is replaced by the internet. This go-green movement is already supported by various organisations and even major companies all over the world.
#8 Increases productivity
We already mentioned that cloud storage and hosting as a means for enterprises were valuable since it increases productivity. Due to the cloud, telecommuting is possible. Employees can access data and work from the other side of the world while it can be updated and made up to date from another employee from the other part of the globe.
And often, employees just like the idea of mobility. This leads to better productivity and even better employee satisfaction.
#9 Good security
Security threats are always possible and it can’t be denied. Even the tightest security from famous companies cannot always keep out hackers. However, most cloud providers use superior security measures for the security of users and clients. And, in case of security failure, back up plans are available as well.
The level of security may also depend on the provider you’ve chosen and the type of security you want to pay for.
Since it is flexible and expandable, cloud computing now is considered to be progressive. It is changing and evolving constantly. But the thing that consumers need to look out for is the competition among providers. The more competitive the providers, the more progressive the product and the services. Aside from this, most providers are now adding more services to go with all other offered services.
#11 Less personnel training
Maintaining an in-house server requires training of personnel. With the cloud, managers and experts are employed by the provider which lessens the need for employees focusing attention on server. No added staff and less money to spend.
#12 Best for start ups
There are many reasons why experts recommend going for the cloud for start-up enterprises. Aside from the fact that it is money-saving, it also helps those who extend work outside work office due to its mobility. Work is possible outside the workplace, during weekends and even after late night outing.
Cloud encourages growth which seems to be the very need of most start-ups today.
#13 Easy upgrades
If you choose to upgrade your service, you may just call provider and request for it. Be it one for storage or network or hosting, it can be accommodated as long as it’s still within the means of the provider. From bug fixes to better security to upgraded services, everything can be updated.
Important factors to consider when choosing cloud services
Unless you are a company with no issues in budgeting, then you may need not consider the pricing aspects of cloud hosting. However, pricing is very important in choosing the provider. It dictates which is the best based on your budget. In here, pricey may not be the best if you can’t really use all the service while too much thrift may give you poor service.
Start-ups usually take this into consideration more since money and expenses is one thing they need to track. Now, make sure you compare pricing plans before purchasing a cloud host package. And while some may boast of cheap rates, you still need to check on the type of service they give and the hidden charges as well as upfront payments. Look for flexibility in pricing and choose one that allows you to scale down based on your IT needs.
It is still better to pay for a brand name, after all they have something to protect. These “brand” names in cloud hosting industry are already experts and are established. Notable and expert service providers will be able to provide you with available software that your company wants to use.
And since they are labelled “experts” in the field, they will be able to provide you something that is at par compared to their competition.
Reliability comes with the name and the service as well. Before signing up, ask yourself how reliable is your cloud vendor? Will they be able to handle consistently the high and low in bandwidth and data exchange during peak hours?
Check if they can manage an entire hosting environment despite robust needs during uptime. Take this into consideration together with all other factors.
Several factors to consider when looking for a cloud vendor is its experience in the field and it position in the stock market. These both indicate stability and are considered to be significant factors. So before signing up for a package, research on your provider’s earnings, financial reports and reputation.
A good cloud eases your need to work hard. Therefore it should have an easy management system, easy to maintain and control as well as user-friendly. You can opt for a package that allows you to control everything in one unified interface. This way your It personnel assigned can efficiently do everything without any problems.
Customers should always be at the heart of every service provider. In the field of cloud hosting, look for vendor who doesn’t just look at the profits and sales. Instead, always look for those who are customer driven and will be able to provide you with 24/7 support. Most vendors have a line to call all throughout the day while others can be reached through email and chat.
To make sure you get this right, check on their customer satisfaction ratings.
Your client should provide you with all information for your confidence. For example, they should not just provide you with their best services information but tell you of possible realistic situations that may happen. They should provide you up to the last detail their security capacity. You should take note of this because it may be a factor that will compromise your own client’s information and confidential data.
Those who are quite hesitant over cloud hosting may be are so because of their inability to leave current working environment. However, with a good cloud provider, an easy integration of current network resources can be easily done.
Your cloud provider should be able to secure a reliable network through cloud services with efficiency and effectiveness. Your vendor should be able to foresee challenges and take ownership of the whole infra.
Since it’s one of the most important technologies, it is also bombarded with a host of issues. Here are the top concerns you may face:
Security. Data breach is the topmost concern of most users. This is heightened since hackers are trying every technique to breach sensitive data. Digital breaching now is a flaw that can be remedied. Through encryption, one can be ensured that data at least can’t be encrypted. But then the danger of encryption is when you lose the key. Some companies result to offline back up but it can open clients to added vulnerability.
The best thing that can protect you from this is to choose a vendor that offers the best security.
Data loss. With security failures, data loss is inevitable. IT can happen through malicious attackers, accidental deletion of cloud servers or physical disasters. Permanent data loss will then ensue and may affect both the provider and the client.
Unsecure Interface and APIs. Strengthening Interface and PAIs usually helps in ensuring security of the service. Interfaces usually help in management and monitoring of clients.
DDoS. Getting system into limited mode may result to Denial of Service. This happens because of vulnerability of web servers, data bases and other cloud resources.
Shared technology vulnerabilities. Since cloud, the Public, is shared, it may open others to vulnerability. Providers remedy this through virtual containers that isolate different customers.
Malicious insiders. You think it is only outside attack that poses a threat to your cloud? You should be wary of those people who have access to your system. They may consist of malicious insiders that will lead your system to become vulnerable. To solve this, make sure you are strict in implementing different level access. Only entrusts access to confidential data to your most trusted employee
Abuse of cloud service. Some users of the cloud may abuse their use of the service which may affect other users. Others may use this vulnerability result from abuse to send attacks and malware.
Account/service hijacking. Hijacking is pretty common now in the digital world. This may lead to data manipulation, falsified info or redirection of users to illegitimate sites. Prohibition of account sharing is one solution to this together with two-factor authentication techniques during access.
Data privacy compliance. Data privacy compliance laws are different from each country. This poses a problem from a cloud hot that offers services all over the world. To remedy this, providers impose rules and regulations based on the client’s country requesting for the service. To be sure, look for a provider that is compliant with regulating bodies such as HIPAA, PCI DSS and Eu data protection law.
Companies In the Cloud
Everybody is moving to the cloud. In fact, several known companies are employing the power of the cloud already. These companies range from your favourite social media to government agencies.
First and most noted is Netflix. With its heavy traffic every day, Netflix wouldn’t be able to cope with the upsurge without the help of the cloud.
Another is Pinterest. Your favourite, g-to photo board is still gaining traffic day-to-day. Ever since it has relied on the cloud and this allowed the Pinterest team to stay small while its data increases.
Xerox moved to the cloud and even offers the service as well now.
Instagram, now one major social media site and e-commerce platform used by many. Starting from a single computer as its server, it has moved to the cloud after the traffic surged.
And Apple, famous tech innovator, turned to the cloud and is working on innovative cloud-related services as well. Other notable companies include Wall Street Journal, Etsy, and MediaMath.
Apps in the Cloud
Now it’s not only the websites that are hosted in the cloud, rather, apps developed for iOS and Android device, apps for computers are also targeted for cloud.
Cloud based apps is hosted in the cloud, in the internet through a remote server instead of taking up space in the users device. Like a website hosted in the cloud, the apps are cloud based but then it differs from web apps. Cloud based apps can be independent on browser use.
Now, these cloud based apps may have features like data stored in their cloud, data cached locally to be used for offline use, used to access wider range of services, offers support for different user requirements and can be used via web browser, desktop or mobile app.
Its noted benefits includes agility, disaster recovery, auto updates, cost effectiveness, flexibility, collaborative effectiveness and improved end-user experience.
Need more? Check out our cloud related articles here!