It’s well known that cloud computing is a distributed system where data is never really stored just in one spot. This holds true for application, desktop and even cloud-based website delivery options. The idea is to create a robust, widely available system for many users to access. Some organizations require the use of a cloud provider which is local – or regional. Many others look to work with hosting providers which cater to the international organization. Is there a difference? Of course; some national providers may actually be limited in how well they can support customers who are overseas.
When looking for a cloud hosting provider, it’s important to establish business case and clearly understand where the customer (or end-user) is located. Once that’s established, there are some key elements to look for when selecting the right partner.
International domain support
Top tier providers are able to offer support for international users from an international domain support level. This means that a given site can live on an international subsystem. For example, one single main site may have an .MX, .UK, or an .IL address. However, the actually site is hosted in either one or two redundant location. This can help create a more robust site capable of supporting more users. Remember, not every cloud hosting provider can offer this type of service. So look for ones that are able to have a mix of international domain support.
This is a heavily overlooked feature until customer service is actually needed. Although some providers offer international support – not all can offer an internationally accessible customer service line. If you have customer residing abroad, look for a provider who can provide support in the respective language. Although not always available, this option may be needed. Otherwise, the only other choice is to host the site with a provider, while still providing customer service internally. This can work – but can be difficult to manage. Depending on where the customers are located, look for a hosting provider which can handle the needs of both your organization and the end-user.
Working with international hosting organizations may require new levels of customization. Hosting providers can offer such features as translation and even shopping carts with the respective currency. These small features can have big returns in terms of ease of use and manageability. Furthermore, good hosting providers with a solid international support system can customize certain pages depending on what the user is accessing and from where. This type of dynamic accessibility will have a positive effect on the end-user and create the need to return to a given site. Remember, the more transparent the experience, the more likely an user will be happy with the service and return.
Compliance and regulations
Probably one of the most important parts of any cloud hosting design or hosting consideration. With international cloud hosting, comes the reality of international laws, compliances and regulations. In working with an international hosting provider, the process of identifying these regulations can be easy – or hard. A good provider will understand regional laws and how they apply to a site. Of course, internal counsel will have to assist with the site design – but the hosting provider can make the compliance process much simpler. For example, in the United States, e-commerce sites have to be very careful with PCI compliance. Their sites have to be able to handle a certain type of traffic and implement the right type of security to remain compliant. The auditing process can be done internally and at the hosting site. Never underestimate this step. One forgotten process can result in heavy fines or a complete redesign!
The amount of global cloud communications is only going to continue to increase. The latest Cisco Cloud Index Report goes on to point out that global data center traffic is already firmly in the zettabyte era and will triple from 2013 to reach 8.6 zettabytes annually by 2018. A rapidly growing segment of data center traffic is cloud traffic, which will nearly quadruple over the forecast period and represent more than three-fourths of all data center traffic by 2018.
Remember, once information passes a border, a new set of rules and laws can apply. It’s important to work with a partner who not only can “say” they support international users – but can actually back it up. In this case, it’s important to look for reputable companies which can support your business vision both today and in the future. International hosting providers are able to offer special support features which may specifically cater to users located abroad. Not only does this make the management process easier, it will also create a more powerful end-user experience.