Cloud Hosting – Understanding your Options

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When moving towards a cloud environment, organizations – both large and small – have a lot of choices to make. There are a lot of vendors out there who are “capable” of hosting information, websites or other workloads directly in the cloud. However, remember that not all cloud providers are created equally. Cloud providers are able to offer more and more services as they grow their own underlying infrastructure. As an organization, you have the option of selecting the right partner with the right set of tools to support your business and its growth.

In working with the right type of model, it’s important to understand what your needs are and what your growth plans will be. That means analyzing your infrastructure, determining your cloud/Internet presence, and deploying a platform which will support it. In selecting the right type of cloud provider, remember to look for a partner, rather than just someone who is trying to sell you a package. Although many can offer a cloud hosting solution, options to look for can certainly vary.

  • Flexibility. The largest, and many times most successful, cloud providers will always offer some sort of flexible deployment, implementation, or customized support options. This means that creating a custom page or, some type of custom service isn’t an issue. Working with a flexible partner may mean paying a bit of premium – but in many cases this is a needed part of the design and development process.
  • “Pay-as-you-grow.” One of the most overlooked features is the ability for a customer to adopt a flexible “pay-as-you-grow” model. Above and beyond just working with a flexible partner, this agile system allows an organization to add additional resources to a cloud hosting option as needed. Furthermore, you can rapidly provision and even de-provision resources as needed. This is great for seasonal businesses like travel sites or some online retail organizations.
  • Customization capabilities. Although many cloud hosting providers offer set packages and even templates to work off of – there may still need to be an element of customization. Whether that means adding additional storage to a particular service or the coding of a new tool within the cloud environment, organizations need to look for partners who offer this type of customization. Why? Very often, cookie-cutter approaches don’t always work. So where other solutions may offer you great templates to work with; they’re not always very customizable.
  • Support options. For smaller organizations, their cloud presence is their entire business. Because of this, make sure you find the right type of partner offering the appropriate level of support. Some other, less expensive, options offer support but only via email or forums. This can work for large organizations that have the manpower to control their cloud environment. But, for smaller shops, 24/7 cloud support may be a constant need. If your cloud-based site can’t sustain prolonged downtime, make sure you have the right support options in place.

Cisco recently pointed out that an important traffic enabler in the rapid expansion of cloud computing is increasing data center virtualization; this provides services that are flexible, fast-to-deploy, and efficient. By 2018, more than three-fourths of all workloads will be processed in the cloud. Additional trends influencing the growth of cloud computing include the widespread adoption of multiple devices combined with increasing user expectations to access applications and content anytime, from anywhere, over any network. To address these rising user demands, cloud-based services such as consumer cloud storage are gaining momentum. Finally, the Cisco’s report goes on to state that by 2018, more than 50 percent of the consumer Internet population will be using personal cloud storage.

Although there are many metrics to work with when selecting the right partner, the above are the big differences between agile cloud providers, and ones who offer “cheap” modular solutions. Although some options may seem to be less expensive, you will most likely get what you pay for. In many instances other options lack some key components that prevent an organization from growing. The right partner can facilitate expansion and agility of a cloud or hosting environment. Other, less flexible options can actually be more costly in the long run as business start to outgrow their provider. Before moving to any hosting provider, make sure you plan out your environment for today and for tomorrow. That way, your organization can leverage the true benefits of a cloud hosting solution.

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