There are more than 3.6 billion cloud-based service users worldwide in 2018, and the numbers are growing every year. In website hosting, what exactly does cloud hosting mean?
What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting provides access via a virtual server to a large pool of resources. The resources are available on-demand so that you can manage peak loads efficiently. Therefore, if you are a user you don’t rely just on one server, but on a cluster of servers that work together which are called “the cloud.”
Advantages of Cloud Hosting
On-Demand Resources. Because there is a team of cloud servers available for you to use, you can request more resources and receive them immediately. The best part is you only pay for the resources you need when you need them, and you can pay for them by the hours.
No Downtime. The team of servers that you can pull from means that if one server goes down due to hardware failure, you can use another machine and won’t experience even a second of downtime.
Highly Scalable. Resources including processing power, memory, and bandwidth are available to cloud hosting users and can be requested for use immediately. That means you can scale up (and back down if needed) efficiently. The ability to increase and decrease your use of hosting resources at will is probably cloud hosting's greatest strength.
Disadvantages of Cloud Hosting
Cost can be an issue. While cloud hosting has become much more affordable than it was in the past, it can still get costly every month if you aren't careful. You won’t get a standard bill every month, but instead an invoice breakdown with the resources used during that time. If you aren’t careful, and you are scaling upwards due to traffic spikes, your bill could become expensive. Some Cloud hosting accounts scale automatically, while other services the customer has to make an explicit decision to scale up hosting resource usage (i.e., scaling doesn't happen automatically).
Infrastructure Management. Unless you choose a managed cloud hosting service, you will have to maintain your site. You will have to handle all software installs. You also have to monitor your resource intake, so your bill doesn’t get racked up every month.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Cloud Hosting Provider
Now, cloud hosting is just as secure as traditional hosting, but you do want to make sure your hosting provider is taking the necessary precautions for keeping your data safe. Consider the security features your provider offers with the service, and what security measures are your responsibility.
Depending on what your level of technology skills are and your desired level of control and customization. Each different host will provide various tools and will be able to integrate uniquely among other services.
For example, if you have services that are essential to your site, then make sure your chosen provider can integrate with them easily. Before committing to a contract, determine how much time and effort you will need to spend managing the infrastructure of your cloud.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Cloud Service Level Agreements (Cloud SLAs) are essential to consider before you choose your hosting provider. Most businesses have strict needs regarding availability, response time, capacity and support and this is where the SLA comes into play.
Having an established contractual relationship will help protect your rights and the security of your data. By having a contract between you and your hosting providers, you can ensure that you'll be reimbursed if the hosting provider fails to live up to the SLA.
Responsive, knowledgeable technical support can make the difference between a great hosting experience and a bad hosting experience. In case that something goes wrong with your website, email, or other services, you need to be sure that you can rely on your hosting provider. If/when you need help, can you get it quickly?
Some hosting providers only provide basic customer support through chat service or a call center. Depending on your needs and your preferred method of communication, this might not work for you. Ask questions before you sign up for a contract to see what type of support you have and what your provider can and will do for you if anything goes wrong.
As mentioned above, the monthly costs of a cloud hosting service can vary wildly from month to month. Look at your usage patterns or predicated usage patterns to see what package fits your needs.
Cloud Hosting can be an excellent option for a wide variety of site owners, but it isn’t perfect for everyone. For example, if you currently have a shared hosting plan and you never exceed the limits of your service or have any problems with website performance, then you can most likely stick with your current plan.
With cloud hosting and other types of hosting like shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting, you can optimize your site with caching plugin, image optimization, or utilizing a CDN. Try these three things if you are having performance issues because it could make the upgrade unnecessary. Generally, if your site doesn’t have 100,000 visitors per month, then you also probably don’t need to upgrade.
However, if you are someone who has traffic levels below this number but you do see huge spikes of traffic, then you might want to consider it. With cloud hosting, it can handle unexpected traffic swings easily.
Cloud hosting is great for developers who have a high level of technical skill who can fully optimize the cloud to do the best work for the least cost. It can also be suitable for site owners who have high levels of traffic and desire a host that is flexible and secure.
Our Top Recommendations for Cloud Hosting