If you’ve ever looked into hosting a website or app, you’ll have come across the term cloud hosting.
Instead of hosting your website or app on a single machine, the cloud allows you to spread your data across multiple, interconnected servers, located across a wide geographical area. These servers only exist in a virtual environment – hence the name cloud.
The fact that cloud hosting utilises the computing power of numerous machines means that not only do you have vastly more potential than you would through traditional hosting, you also have access to the services those machines offer. This is where things start to get interesting.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a moment to review the basics of the cloud hosting. It’ll be worth it, trust us.
Public cloud vs private cloud
When your hosting account was based around a single server, you had the choice of either sharing the machine with other accounts (a shared server) or running an individual machine specifically for your site (a dedicated server). With cloud hosting you have a similar choice to make.
One of your choices is the public cloud – the equivalent of a shared server where a collection of networked machines holds the data for several sites.
The hardware is shared between several virtualised accounts, and so the cost of the resource is shared. Unlike traditional shared hosting, however, the virtual server’s resources are ring-fenced. You don’t share disk space, processing power, or anything else with any other account – you simply share rack space in the data centres. In effect you get all the benefits of shared hosting, with none of the downsides.
If public cloud is not what you’re looking for, it’s possible to create a private cloud set-up that does not share its infrastructure with any other accounts or sites. This obviously comes with a higher cost, but offers greater security and control.
Server resources are ringfenced within private clouds, meaning that you don’t have to share hardware. The entire virtualised resource sits behind your own firewall.
The upsides to this are fairly clear to anyone who has ever considered data security important. Nevertheless, it does limit your ability to access some of the more innovative cloud services. We’ll come to those soon.
Cloud vs single server
So, why has the hosting world moved away from dedicated server hosting to cloud technology? It’s clearly a more complex (and more expensive) system to set up. There must be some major benefits, right?
Well yes, now you come to mention it there are some pretty fabulous benefits to using cloud technology instead of a traditional dedicated server.
If your website exists on a single machine and that machine goes offline, then your site vanishes. On the other hand, if your site is shared between an array of interconnected machines that all store the same information and one of them goes offline, the others can pick up the slack and the site remains online.
If you have any doubts about how much of impact downtime can have on your site – and by default your business – then consider this famous example from Amazon. Server issues knocked the site offline for just 13 minutes on Prime Day 2018, and this is said to have cost them almost $100 million in lost sales. That is over $120,000 every second.
Because of the underlying infrastructure of your cloud hosting set-up, you have access to more system resources than you could ever need. Even once these have been shared between all the different accounts on your public cloud set-up, there’s a vast amount of processing power sitting in reserve for this very purpose. You can scale these resources easily: whether it’s a quick phone call to your hosting company when you know you are expecting extra traffic or setting up the hosting architecture to automatically increase resources based on real-time requirements. Days like Cyber Monday shouldn’t be a concern.
Unlike a dedicated server set-up where a sudden increase in visitor numbers can lead to the whole site going down, cloud hosting ensures your account can respond to demand. More importantly, you only pay for what you actually use.
Cloud hosting is also incredibly versatile. More than ever, you can choose a custom solution that’s tailor-made to meet your specific needs. You don’t have to pick from a list of standard packages, none of which quite fit your requirements. You can select exactly the space, architecture, processing power, OS, and security you need with a cloud set-up.
Perhaps your site uses a relatively small front end but accesses a massive database? Perhaps you need to host large files for download from an otherwise small site? Whatever your individual needs, the cloud can accommodate them.
If you need more reasons to get onboard the cloud server bandwagon, also bear in mind that, should you choose to manage your own server, you can do so from your smartphone. With the cloud, you don’t need access to the data centre itself – just an internet connection.
Hyperscale cloud hosting
So far, we’ve looked at all the reasons cloud hosting is superior to traditional hosting. But we’ve yet to take into consideration some of the biggest and most compelling reasons to use cloud hosting.
It’s no secret that the vast majority of cloud computing globally is provided by the big three companies – Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
Their infrastructure is on such a huge scale, they’re referred to as Hyperscale cloud rather than just cloud. And all three of these platforms can offer so much more than just secure, scalable, global hosting.
As well as bespoke virtual machines, they all offer a vast array of artificial intelligence based services and machine learning platforms to enhance the service you offer to your customers. These are integrated through a simple API call and integrate perfectly with the rest of your cloud requirements. Take Amazon’s Polly, Microsoft Azure’s Emotion, or Google’s Big Query and Datalab.
All three of the big players are constantly innovating and transforming what’s possible with the cloud, and making that available to you, the customer. These cloud platforms are not about a commodity service, where the hyperscale providers are in a race to the bottom on price. There’s a race, for sure, but it’s very much one of features and technology. The most innovative services, and the most complete range of features, is the winner in the long run.
So, whether the future of your business is artificial intelligence, machine learning, realistic machine-based communication, or data analysis, there’s a cloud service out there that can help you along that journey.
Managed cloud hosting
As cloud platforms become more and more innovative, and AI and machine learning develop to even higher levels of complexity, many companies are left wondering where to begin. The fact that it’s now perfectly feasible to use the same cloud services to manage your online presence as you do to run your business, certainly complicates the decision making process. Not to mention migration, management, and maintenance itself.
What used to be a discussion between a digital agency and the client about where to host a website or application is often now a company-wide digital transformation project involving many specialist partners.
This is why the hyperscale cloud providers use Managed Service Providers (MSPs) – expert and service-led infrastructure companies who focus entirely on designing and delivering bespoke hosting solutions that fit the individual needs of their clients. Companies like Wirehive.
An MSP can work with you all the way through your journey to the cloud. From understanding the business challenges you need to solve with technology and selecting the right hyperscale cloud to use in your organisation, to architecting, deploying, and managing their recommended set-up.
At Wirehive, we not only offer this on our own fully-managed public cloud, but we also act as a partner to provide consultancy, design and in-life management on all three of the hyperscale clouds.
Green cloud hosting
Companies across the globe are looking for ways to reduce the impact they have on the world around them. All three of the hyperscale cloud providers take sustainability very seriously, but what is green cloud hosting?
In a nutshell, green cloud hosting is about improving energy efficiency in data centres. An increasing number of providers rely on renewable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprint and meet energy efficiency targets. But, as sustainability has grown in importance, providers have looked for new ways to minimise their impact on the environment.
Microsoft, for instance, recently began a programme that aims to help its clients meet their own sustainability targets.
I’m not going to go into much more detail here. Suffice it to say that, if sustainability’s important to you, you won’t go far wrong with any of the big three (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google).