It’s often difficult to tell if a technology is really taking hold, or if news of its trendiness is mostly industry chatter of businesses that are invested and trying to sell their biased perspective. Is cloud the future, or is it just hype?
- What is Cloud Computing or Cloud Hosting?
- How Fast is the Rise of Cloud, Especially IaaS?
- Pros & Cons of Cloud
- Strong Cloud Hosting for Your Business
When you search for “cloud computing” on Google, you get 74 million results. Compare that to “dedicated server,” which has only 569,000 results. That gives you a sense of the massiveness of this tech concept. Of course the cloud transcends the datacenter to be a major topic in consumer computing, such as iCloud storage, as well.
To what extent, though, does cloud go beyond being a trend? Is cloud hosting the future of business? Let’s look at what cloud computing is; forecasts on its growth; and pros and cons of this form of computing.
What is Cloud Computing or Cloud Hosting?
Cloud computing is a way to distribute processing or storage of data across hundreds or thousands of computers for better efficiency and speed, typically with the services hosted at another location through the Internet. Cloud hosting is the actual hosting of the services; in its raw form, it is synonymous to infrastructure-as-a-service. “Cloud computing enables companies to consume compute resources as a utility — just like electricity,” notes Margaret Rouse of TechTarget, “rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in-house.”
There are actually three basic models of cloud hosting, though:
- Public – An outside company delivers the cloud through the Web;
- Private – A company creates a distributed cloud system through its own datacenter; and
- Hybrid – Using orchestration and automation between two different systems, companies combine public cloud with an on-site private cloud.
Cloud is also divided into three categories of service:
- Infrastructure-as-service (IaaS) – An IaaS provider gives you access to virtual servers, along with application program interfaces (APIs) so you can transfer workloads to the cloud;
- Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) – The provider hosts a development environment in its datacenter, for software development and sometimes hosting; and
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS) – This option, certainly the most commonly used by consumers, is the delivery of software through the Web, with Microsoft Office 365 being a prominent example.
How Fast is the Rise of Cloud, Especially IaaS?
The speed of cloud growth is indicated by Gartner analyst Sid Nag. “The market for public cloud services is continuing to demonstrate high rates of growth across all markets and Gartner expects this to continue through 2017,” he said in January 2016. “This strong growth continues [to] reflect a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services, due to [the] increased trend of organizations pursuing a digital business strategy.”
Specifically, Gartner forecast public cloud to grow 16.5% in 2016, increasing from $175 billion (its 2015 total) to $204 billion. It’s notable that the largest growth for cloud computing is in cloud hosting itself, with IaaS expected to grow 38.4% in 2016. That’s much more substantial that the growth in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) of 21.1% and software-as-a-service (SaaS) of 20.3%.
Incidentally, the fastest growing segment of the cloud services market, says Gartner, is cloud advertising, rising 13.6% to $90.3 billion.
Pros & Cons of Cloud
Why is it likely that cloud will become increasingly common? What are its major selling points? What might be disadvantages of its use?
- Cost – You don’t need as much money to use cloud. That’s often true with software, but the clearest example is with infrastructure. You can shift the hosting costs from a capital expense – buying servers and other equipment upfront – to the operating expense of a subscription. You also no longer have to maintain your hardware.
- Location-independence – “As long as one has an Internet connection, they can access the files that they need,” says Chris Smith of KnowTechie. “This means that work can get done at any time and place, and emergency issues can be quickly resolved without having to clock in at the office or keeping a physical copy of important files at all times.” Another advantage of the way cloud disconnects computing from a specific location is that it allows for easier collaboration with partners worldwide, with version control elements instantly applying updates.
- Sustainability – Cloud is environmentally friendly because it is fundamentally efficient. You only use the resources that you need (as opposed to a dedicated server that is underutilized). This characteristic also cuts your costs.
- Downtime – If a cloud goes down or you have connectivity issues, you can’t readily access your data. Therefore, it’s smart to bolster the convenience of the cloud with physical backups on-site.
- Security – Data that is processed through cloud can be more vulnerable. However, various security thought-leaders have pointed out that cloud is actually an improvement in security for most SMBs, since strong cloud providers have numerous enterprise-grade security mechanisms in place.
- Service quality – When you rely on an outside provider for an important service such as hosting of your business data, it’s critical that they don’t hold you back. “While some companies offer great technical support, flexibility, and security, others are lacking in one or more of these arenas,” says Smith. “Business owners would be wise to do their research in order to find a reputable company that suits their needs.”
Strong Cloud Hosting for Your Business
The short answer to the title of this article is Yes. After all, according to B2B analyst Clutch.co, 19 out of every 20 small to medium businesses either have a cloud system in place now or are actively planning to adopt one soon.
So what about the cloud hosting cons? Note that all the potential disadvantages above relate back to the quality of the cloud hosting provider. At Atlantic.Net, our World-class cloud hosting platform provides you with the freedom to choose the plans that best fit your budget and business needs. Our plans are designed to provide maximum flexibility to business as well as developers. Sign up with us for HIPAA cloud storage hosting you can trust.