In only a few decades the Internet has become an all-encompassing phenomenon. Internet speeds have increased and server prices have gone down dramatically over the years. By now, everyone with any familiarity with the Internet has encountered the term “cloud storage”, and many hosting businesses have started providing cloud hosting solutions. “Cloud” is a common phrase these days, but not very lucidly understood. So in this article, we will take a look at what it really means, how it works, and why it is the future for data storage.
What is the Cloud?
This very simple question often receives complicated, jargon-like answers. Within the milieu of cloud hosting there is no single, tangible entity that constitutes the cloud; it is instead an edifice, and the data is stored in a collection of computers which is then available through a network connection, most often the Internet.
Defining Cloud Hosting
Now, when it comes to cloud hosting, these server clusters act as a single vast storage space. The data of the website like the pictures, CSS files, etc., is sprawled out over a collection of hard drives that are linked together, and behave as a single virtual hard drive of incredible storage capacity. Server datacenters can theoretically allow for a cloud structure running through infinite machines.
Cloud hosting in present day is an increasingly popular alternative to hosting websites on single servers, dedicated or shared, and can be seen as a larger version of clustered hosting where websites can be hosted on numerous servers. Cloud hosting takes this one step further and the network of servers is not only massive, but also different from centers over various locations.
Cloud Web Hosting
Specific to website hosting, cloud hosting works in a way such that your website pulls from the virtual resources of multiple servers to provide for all the aspects of what it takes to host your site. The cloud is the server cluster and this method of hosting makes for a balanced load. The resources are made available virtually and can be accessed when needed.
This form of hosting is more reliable because in case of a single hardware breakdown, other computers can continue functioning, thus preventing a complete collapse. Being decentralized, power disturbances are less likely to hinder cloud hosting than it would disrupt conventional hosting. Usually, cloud web hosting is best suited for sites for which a shared hosting provider is no longer sufficient. One reason for that can be excessive popularity of a site causing strain on existing resources. While dedicated hosting is also a solution to this dilemma, cloud web hosting costs less and requires much less IT knowledge, making it a hassle-free alternative to dedicated hosting while retaining all of the benefits.
Distribution of Power and Storage
One major question is how the network of numerous server environments will escalate when a cloud system increases in size. The distribution of storage is usually handled by a backend software OS/system.
The server admin will be capable of logging in to check the vital info of the machines. The procedure, known as virtualization, allows for an abstraction layer between the software and hardware components. Admins can thus easily enhance the servers for optimal storage, efficient use of energy, etc.
Over time, this also proves to be a less expensive solution as compared to virtual or physical server plans. The service provider only charges the customer for specific bandwidth usage, usually incurred from streaming large media files. This system, called utility computing, is a service provisioning model and saves the customer from the dreaded flat-rate system.
Cloud Hosting Pros
At this point in the advancement of technology, cloud hosting is the least expensive method to use, maintain and upgrade websites. Conventional desktop software take a huge toll on companies in terms of finance. The sum total of the licensing fees, factoring in multiple users, can actually be tremendously expensive for an establishment; while the cloud is available at rates which are a lot lower. An IT company, for instance, can drastically reduce its expenses, especially with the various options available, like one-time-payment or pay-as-you-go, which charge reasonable and appropriate prices.
Compared to the storage capacity of any other type of hosting services, cloud hosting provides you with practically unlimited storage capacity. There is virtually no limit to the capacity of cloud storage and thus no risk of running out of space, or worrying about increasing your storage space availability.
Backup and Recovery
Given that all your data is now stored in the cloud, the task of backing it up and restoring becomes extremely easy and convenient, as opposed to storing the same information on physical devices or local servers. Moreover, most reliable cloud service providers these days are usually proficient in handling information recovery tasks. This provides a two-fold security by guarding against loss of data while also offering top-notch recovery services.
Automatic Software Integration
When using cloud hosting, software integration is something that occurs routinely and automatically by the cloud vendor. This basically implies that you no longer need to expend efforts on trying to customize and assimilate applications according to your preferences, as this is taken care of effortlessly on its own. In addition, cloud computing gives you the provision of customizing your options with great simplicity. Thus, you can cherry-pick only those services and software applications that according to you will be most suited for your particular needs.
Registering on the cloud means taking yourself beyond the bounds of geography and time. Once on the cloud, all your information is accessible from anywhere at all times as long as you have a reliable Internet connection.
With cloud computing, your complete system can become totally functional within minutes. Not only does this imply a highly condensed implementation time, but it also means that a lot less time is needed to provide cloud solutions.
Cloud Hosting Cons
Availability and accessibility of data at all times and from any location is of course one of the biggest lures of cloud hosting. However, even a system as vast and as secure as this can sometimes fall prey to dysfunctions. You should know that cloud technology is sometimes prone to issues like outages. And even the most reliable providers of cloud service with the best standards of maintenance can face problems like these once in a while. A good Internet service is also necessary at all times since without it (or in case of connectivity errors), you will not be able to access any data stored in the cloud.
While the risk of losing your data is nearly zilch and recovery services are impeccable, the aspect of security is not so fool-proof when it comes to cloud hosting. Employing cloud computing invariably means opening up all your company’s data (including sensitive material) to a third-party, i.e, the cloud service provider. Thus, it becomes extremely important to select a reliable, vouched-for provider to guarantee safety of your data.
Another threat to security is from external forces. Cloud computing makes the stored information susceptible to hackers and which could endanger your company. This skulking likelihood of sensitive information being stolen is a quite a threat; however, it isn’t specific to cloud hosting per se as anything on the Internet is vulnerable to attack to some extent.
Despite the many benefits, cloud computing as it is now also has some disadvantages. These cons are not deterrents by themselves, but do invoke some caution on the part of businesses. There is immense need to make sure of the reliability and trust quotient of the cloud service provider they are selecting.
Cloud hosting is the most significant advancement in the world of physical server clusters so far. A system that is scalable to your particular business needs, cloud hosting has limitless potential in terms of storage and customization. In addition to providing a vast storage space with intuitive customization, smooth backup and easy recovery, cloud hosting is also one of the cheapest hosting options available. As long as you take a few precautionary measures in checking the reliability of the provider, cloud hosting can be tremendously advantageous to both big and small businesses.