For many businesses, websites have become mission critical parts of their operation. This is especially true in the case of transactional sites, where any down time will have an immediate impact on the bottom line. There are many ways to mitigate this risk, and one of the best ones is to consider using a cloud computing infrastructure.
The Cloud vs Virtual Private Servers
Traditionally, there were was a more limited choice of hosting infrastructure. One option was to use virtual private servers (VPS), which are guaranteed resources on a physical server that is shared with other customers. Although this is an improvement over standard shared hosting, it does not give the flexibility of a full cloud computing infrastructure.
Similarly, even using a dedicated server, in which the entire hardware is for the sole use of one customer, does not give the same flexibility, resilience and scalability as with cloud computing.
A cloud computing infrastructure in spreads the resources used to power your website or application across multiple servers, and even multiple data centres. Should one piece of hardware fail, the remaining servers will take up the load and your business will continue to function as normal. Additionally, if one connection to the internet fails, another one can instantly take over the traffic. If availability of your IT resources is important, then a cloud infrastructure is essential to achieve high availability at a reasonable cost.
Another benefit is the ability of cloud servers to cope with peaks in demand. Imagine what would happen to a website if, for example, it came under heavy load due to some unexpected publicity, such as a product being featured on television, or "going viral" on Twitter. The last thing the site owner would want would be for their services to be inaccessible. With cloud hosting, the available resources will scale to meet demand, and services will be available as normal - and hopefully the business involved will reap the benefits!
It need not even be a sudden and huge spike in demand to make cloud hosting an attractive proposition. If a business expands, as hopefully most will, then knowing that the IT infrastructure will expand and grow with it is one less thing for the organisation to worry about. A good provider will be able to satisfy the needs of everything from the smallest web site, to a multiple site, round the clock, mission critical online application.
An unfortunate fact of life for modern, internet reliant businesses, is the vulnerability to "cyber attacks", either from worried competitors, or more likely, as result of a random bad luck. In many cases, these attacks constitute an attempt to overload the infrastructure to the point that it is unable to cope. Such events are called "denial of service" attacks. Although the hosting company should have the technical expertise and resources to repel all but the worst of these attacks, cloud servers are more likely to stay online whilst mitigation procedures are put in place.
Flexible and Improved Cost Efficiency
With a true cloud hosting service, the biggest attraction is that you only pay for the services actually used. Your contract with the cloud computing infrastructure supplier will likely be such that there is a basic monthly fee, onto which extra services such as increased CPU time or bandwidth are added if required. There is no point paying for dedicated bandwidth all month if the peaks in demand are only on weekday mornings.
Ideally, there should also be only a monthly commitment. This will not only give you peace of mind that you can change supplier if required, but also that your supplier will be working hard to ensure the service is first class. Until the growth of cloud computing services, organisations very often had to purchase significantly more infrastructure than required at the time to cope with planned growth. Now, it is much more like a pay as you go solution that closely matches the customer's demands.
More and more businesses are becoming aware of the benefits of cloud servers, and a cost-benefit analysis is likely to show that the advantages over traditional hosting and IT infrastructure options are significant. With increasing numbers of suppliers on the market, the services are becoming ever more advanced, whilst being offered at lower cost, making the decision to move to a cloud based infrastructure a simple one.
ElasticHosts.com offer a range of cloud hosting services from linux cloud servers to flexible cloud computing architecture.