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Misconceptions About “Cloud” and What to Ask Your Cloud Providers

Richard Bailey
by Atlantic.Net (47 posts) under VPS Hosting
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If you are starting your cloud journey, you may be unclear about what cloud computing is, what it does, what comes standard as part of cloud hosting, and what doesn’t! It’s quite likely that you have been bombarded with misinformation and technical terminology that you simply have no interest in. Yes, you want to assess your options before committing; yes, you will have researched potential cloud providers; however, it’s quite likely you will have misconceptions about cloud computing.

Atlantic.Net is here to set the record straight, giving you the required information to make an informed decision about which cloud provider works best for you. Our team gets asked many questions about cloud technology, so we have produced this Q&A to answer some of the misconceptions we witness in the industry.

Are All Cloud Providers the Same?

This misconception may ring true for hyper-scale cloud providers, and it is fair to say that most providers offer a similar range of core services, such as virtual private servers, storage, and networking. But look closer and you will see the industry has many diverse providers; some providers focus on affordability, others focus on compliance, while still others focus on Machine Learning, Cryptocurrency, and Blockchain. Atlantic.Net is world-famous for our security and compliance in Cloud that covers PCI-DSS and HIPAA compliant healthcare hosting, but like all the other providers, we offer so much more.

What Is the Redundancy Level of the Cloud?

Another common misconception is that most people think that the cloud never goes down and that uptime is 24x7x365 when referenced as 100% uptime. While it is true that cloud computing is extremely reliable, inevitably downtime does happen. A lot depends on how well architected your solution is, applications need to be designed to be resilient to transient failure.

All of the hyper-scale providers have experienced big outages in recent years, resulting in large swaths of the Internet going offline. Atlantic.Net offers a 100% uptime guarantee, but like all providers, there are times when we must complete mandatory maintenance tasks to keep the service running in a security-defined, high-performing platform.

Atlantic.Net provides RAID for all cloud-based turnaround one-time systems including VPS, Cloud Servers, and Dedicated Hosts, while some other cloud providers do not provide RAID.  If a drive fails, you will lose the data on that host, but not on Atlantic.Net.  Atlantic.Net also provides redundant Internet uplinks, redundant data center power systems, redundant cooling systems, and redundant server uplinks and power.  We take the extra steps that others do not to help provide as close to 100% uptime as possible.

Do I Need to Do Anything to Ensure I Hit My Uptime Goals?

Similar to redundancy level misconceptions, some users may assume that the service will never go down and that nothing has to be done to achieve 100% uptime. This is incorrect. Cloud solutions need to be built to withstand failure. Instead of having everything running on one server, split your application up between many servers, preferably in multiple locations.

Consider enabling backups and replication. Consider creating snapshots of your servers and copying them to alternative locations. Consider managed service add-ons such as disaster recovery, managed backups, business continuity, and monitoring capabilities for your servers. Atlantic.Net can help with having engineers review your cloud environment design, pairing them with your risk analysis to ensure that a properly designed environment will be able to meet and exceed your uptime requirements.

Do I Need Disaster Recovery?

Have you considered disaster recovery? DR is a technical and administrative service that ensures the continuity of technical services. Disasters are rare, but they do happen. Floods, terrorism, and tornadoes, to name just a few, can wipe out a data center, so what happens to all your servers?

With a disaster recovery solution, your services can be brought up in a secondary location, typically in a controlled process. DR is a mandatory requirement for some heavily regulated industries, such as parts of the US healthcare system.

What Is Included When I Get a Cloud Server?

When you purchase a Cloud Server, you get the CPU, Disk, and Memory resources you are paying for. You get the licenses for the Operating System (if applicable), network access (both private and public).

Some think backups are included as standard, but this is not true. Some think a managed firewall is included: also not true. And unfortunately, some think that the cloud provider will manage the day-to-day operations for you on that server. Again, this is not true – you will need to manage your server or purchase a managed service option.  We press newcomers to Cloud to ask questions and not assume that something they require is included. Chances are someone like Atlantic.Net does offer the service you are looking for, but it might need to be an add-on and not a standard to the cloud server.

When I Put My Data in the Cloud, That Just Goes to All Your Locations Automatically, Right?

No, this is incorrect. Your data is stored in the service you chose, which is contained in the region that your instance is created. Say you purchased a cloud server in San Francisco, California. Your data will remain in the same data center in the same location. It will also be subject to California and United States legislative restrictions, such as CCPA.

To make your data available in multiple regions, you must enable storage replication. Replication creates a 1:1 copy of your data. This is a feature that practically every cloud provider has, and it will copy your data (automatically) from Region A to Region B.

I Am Compliant If My Cloud Provider Is Compliant, Right?

This misconception is a big one; just because your cloud provider is compliant with some legal standard doesn’t necessarily mean you are compliant immediately. Careful consideration must be given to your legal requirements. Take HIPAA Compliance, for example. Atlantic.Net is a HIPAA compliant and HIPAA audited business, and when we onboard new healthcare customers there are some extra steps needed to make sure they are HIPAA compliant too. It might be the signing of a business associate agreement, or a requirement to have Protected Health Information redacted for a public-facing website.

Be mindful that your company usually has to take additional steps to ensure your company is meeting all compliance requirements around a cloud environment AND their company business practices.

The Cloud Is Expensive. Can I Do It Cheaper Myself?

Many users may think that cloud computing is too expensive and that they could do it cheaper themselves. In nearly every scenario possible, this is a misconception. The costs of building a data center, heating, cooling, and powering the data center are astronomical.

Also consider the network provider uplink costs and all the costs associated with administering the platform, not to mention the cost of servers, storage and network equipment, building utilities, staff wages, audit costs, and so on. Oh, and then multiply this by at least two so you have some form of business continuity.

Is Technical Support Included for Free?

It is true that most providers have some layer of free technical support. Take Atlantic.Net for example; we have phone and email support available 24x7x365 to our cloud platform customers.

However, there is a line drawn between free and premium support. Premium support is a technical service provided within a service level agreement. I’m sure if you have ever had to call on Microsoft Azure technical support, you know that the turnaround is very slow and their help can be underwhelming. With Atlantic.Net, you can utilize the standard support or opt for Server Management, which takes the scope of support to the next level. Atlantic.Net also offers Professional Service Agreements (PSAs) for one time projects or issues that fall outside of the scope of support and will be billed on an hourly basis.

Do Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Never Go Down?

This is another misconception. All cloud providers have technical issues. It is the nature of the industry that if something breaks, there is a possibility for an outage. Only last November, a huge outage hit AWS that knocked out a large number of high-profile customer solutions. Google is not immune either. Check out their outage history the last 365 days!

What is important is that businesses plan and create solutions that are resistant to failure.

I Don’t Need Backups Since My Servers Are in the Cloud, Right?

Backups should still be a critical part of your IT strategy. Backups are the cornerstone of protecting files, folders, databases, and systems. If you upgrade your webservers version of WordPress or PHP, you can roll back to a backup or snapshot if it breaks your website. You can protect all your critical files, restore older versions of the same file, protect your databases, and so on.

Does the Location of My Cloud Server Matter?

It’s a small world in cloud computing. Regions are availability zones that are connected using superfast network connections, but in the real world, location is very important. Think of the end-user; if you have a user in Germany and your server is in Toronto, there will be a certain amount of latency between the two. If you moved your server to London, the latency would be much lower. If a user is on a cell device, latency matters even more!

It’s important to consider local laws and legislation when selecting a location for your server; you should ask yourself whether your data is allowed in a foreign country where you intend to host it.

How Can Atlantic.Net Help?

As an award-winning web and VPS hosting provider, Atlantic.Net has over 25 years of industry-leading experience. We provide HIPAA-compliant, dedicated, managed, and cloud hosting solutions to an extensive list of leading healthcare clients. We are independently audited and certified by a third-party auditing firm, fulfilling HIPAA, HITECH, and SOC requirements. Atlantic.Net also exceeds PCI-DSS, CCPA, and GDPR requirements.

Atlantic.Net will sign a BAA detailing our contractual obligations regarding the safety and security of PHI. Our HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting solution offers an encrypted VPN, 100% uptime guarantee, fully managed firewall solutions, Certified Data Centers providing state-of-the-art redundant systems, power, and physical security, as well as our industry-leading experience in surpassing compliance and security standards.

If you are looking for a suitable platform for your new cloud service, then look no further than Atlantic.Net! Contact our team today, we can even help you to host and maintain a fully HIPAA-compliant solution.

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