The “cloud” is an IT term for the Internet, and cloud computing, or cloud hosting, means storing and having access to your computer data and software on the Internet – on demand – rather than running it on your personal computer or office server. In fact, if you use programs such as Gmail or Google docs, you may not realize it, but you are already participating in cloud computing. Part of the confusion in the business decision process of IT is that the terminology is rather difficult in that it changes so often, particularly for non-tech-savvy types, including many small business owners. And it does represent a major shift in how businesses and individuals use and store digital information.
Advantages for business
There are many obvious advantages to cloud web hosting that are talked about on news mediums and on many business web sites. With cloud hosting, you have your web data and business computing programs running online, rather than separately on your office computers, and this means that you and your IT staff have access to them anytime, anywhere there is an Internet connection available. Another advantage is the fixed-cost draw to cloud computing. We call this the dreaded cost- and hassle-saving factor. With cloud web hosting, the software that is provided online is upgraded and maintained by the provider, so the small business owner does not have to purchase the latest version of a software application or download upgrades and patches. Not having to buy a program outright but entering into a monthly or annual contract is very motivating, as is the appeal that many applications are offered for free. The fixed cost allows business owners to plan for the future, rather than be surprised when a costly software or hardware upgrade is needed. And for businesses that have updates to their web site(s) made hourly, even by-the-minute changes to their web site, cloud web hosting can offer a big advantage over self-hosting.
Not all web sites require hourly news updates. JanesCustomDrapes.com probably doesn’t need up-to-the minute reporting from the world of sewing. I mean, how much changes from one day to the next in the sewing world? But that doesn’t mean that Jane should hire a copy writer for her site text, set her sales pitch and hope for the best. If she’s a savvy business women (let’s assume she is) providing articles on types of yarn, on-line lessons for beginners, information on other handiwork, visitors will be encouraged to continue to visit JanesCustomDrapes.com for the information and, at some point, make a purchase. That is the goal of all for-profit enterprises…right?
What is cloud hosting?
Cloud computing or cloud hosting is often the term employed to describe the “as a service” model over the Internet. You will see the terms “infrastructure as a service”, “platform as a service”, or “software as a service” used as you conduct your research of the leading cloud hosting providers such as Rackspace Hosting, Amazon and SoftLayer.
Pros of Cloud Hosting
The cost savings in cloud hosting, compared to co-location, can run as high as fifty-three percent, a large number in the startup dynamics of business. It only makes a good business case to use cloud hosting and any arguments against it on the cost front are with little merit. In a highly competitive business economy, cost savings are a big plus.
Cons of Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is a very profitable business for service providers. As such, it can lead to expensive monthly fees if the code of your web site is not well written. And the way to save money, as a customer, is to optimize your code. For projects hosted in the cloud, you can actually get a monthly statement that can illustrate your performance optimization efforts. If you and your programming team edit your code so that it accesses the database less, you can save a few hundred dollars per month. The cloud can give you a direct line from your code to your dollars. Interesting stuff!
Carbon neutral web hosting
Another con of cloud web hosting is that the majority of cloud hosting providers are not environmentally-friendly or carbon neutral, meaning that they do not use renewable energy to power their data centers. The cloud is growing at a point in time when climate change and reducing emissions from energy use is a growing concern for consumers. And because it is of concern to consumers, many of those consumers purchase goods and services from companies that are making environmentally friendly choices – such as the type of web hosting provider they choose. Although many small and medium sized businesses are moving their web sites to green web hosting providers, the emissions produced by the IT industry continues to grow. With the growth of the cloud, however, comes an increasing demand for energy. For all of the web content to be delivered to Internet users in real time, virtual mountains of video, pictures and other data must be stored somewhere and be available for almost immediate access. That “somewhere” is data centers and in most instances, data centers emit a large amount of carbon. This begs the question of whether a webmaster should choose environmentally friendly green web hosting instead of cloud hosting. The decision should be made, however, only after a very thorough investigation into the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of each type of web hosting.
Environmentally friendly web hosting
The air is getting dirtier. The seas are turning black. Clean drinking water is scarce in many places in the world and we all have a responsibility to use less energy. It’s the ethical thing to do. So, to start, look for a web hosting company that shows concern for the environment today and in the future – a web host that employs green technology to deliver services to you.
What to look for in a web hosting provider?
- more renewable energy sources like wind turbines and cold water cooling for web host servers
- Energy Star rated, highly efficient servers, which are nothing more than huge hard drives on which your web site resides on the server side
- responsible disposal of outdated equipment to prevent heavy, toxic metals from seeping into our water supplies
- an ethical, corporate value to employ the least amount of energy while delivering the highest quality of service
Green hosting services are the future of the web hosting industry. Only a few web hosts employ green technology end-to-end. Choose one of these vanguard companies. That commitment to a cleaner future makes an ethical statement about what’s important to the web hosting company’s management team.