Cloud computing is a confusing term to many people, although it doesn’t need to be. Cloud is a new way of looking at something that’s been going on for years. Hosting applications in ‘the cloud’ essentially refers to the virtualization technology that a data center uses. Virtualization gives cloud hosting the advantages it has because it’s a new way of allocating resources that is much more ‘fail-safe’ than methods used in the past.
Let’s take a look at the key advantages of cloud hosting:
- High availability - cloud network design places an emphasis on uptime. In fact, many cloud service providers will offer 100% node uptime Service Level Agreements (SLAs) because a properly configured cloud setup can achieve this goal.
- Failover - Automated failover is often a feature where ‘the rubber meets the road’ when it comes to cloud hosting. Automated failover happens in the event of a failure on a node. Your application will still run because it will be moved to a standby virtual machine. This is a feature that was not generally present prior to virtualization becoming widespread in data centers.
- Scalability - Scalability is one of the biggest advantages of cloud hosting. In the past, web hosting clients were forced to use a ‘package’ system that limited their resources. If for some reason their website would have a huge burst in traffic, it would be denied based on the settings of their ‘hosting package.’ Cloud hosting does not have this limitation. Instead, you can continue to burst up depending on needs and burst back down when the extra resources aren’t necessary to keep up with site traffic.
Cloud hosting is a way for small businesses to ensure their website is accessible at all times, despite load, and to do this at a reasonable enough cost to guarantee profit. One factor that is rarely discussed when it comes to cloud hosting, is that it may be much cheaper than alternative plans. First, let’s take a look at the two predominant types of billing used for cloud hosting plans.
Types of billing for cloud hosting
- Utility or usage based billing. - Utility billing is a ‘pay as you go’ model that charges you for virtual machine instances based on resource type and amounts consumed. For development testbeds this is a popular method of paying because it allows for quick bursts and ‘disposable’ applications. You can quickly deploy and test your application and make changes on the fly.
- Dedicated cloud or flat-rate billing. - Dedicated cloud or flat-rate billing simply limits the cloud resources such as bandwidth or disk space in exchange for flat-rates monthly. Generally this type of billing is not as scalable as utility billing, but depending on the control panel used, it might be. Some providers will allow you basically instant upgrades to other plans using a CP. If not, you can still likely upgrade with minimal hassle.
Despite claims to the contrary, cloud hosting can end up saving your business money at the same time you experience increased uptime and reduced page load speed. For these reasons alone, cloud hosting continues to gain in popularity. Small businesses can benefit from cloud hosting and should consider it as a viable option when it comes time to launch a new website or update their old one.