Archive for the ‘Why Cloud Hosting’ Category and Their Advice on What to Look for in Cloud Hosting

Friday, October 12th, 2012

There are literally scores of cloud computing vendors to choose from. Everyone from Google (Google App Engine) and Microsoft (Microsoft Azure) to Rackspace and has a cloud computing service or platform. When setting out to choose a cloud provider, keep in mind that you need to analyze your choices on a few different levels.

•    The product: Is the product easy to use? Does it provide your business what it needs? Will it help you better meet business goals?
•    The provider: Is the provider a stable company with lots of other customers? Are those customers happy with the customer service? Is the provider well-funded and/or is it a possible acquisition target?
•    The transition: Is the transition something that will be accomplished during your timetable? Do you understand what is involved and the possible interruptions to business during the transition?

Assemble a list of providers. You can gather this information from magazine and news sources. You can get referrals from other businesses or business or industry groups. You can look to IT research companies, such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. You can also hire outside consultants to help your company find the right fit in a cloud computing vendor. In addition, there may be providers that specialize in solutions for your industry.

Once you have a list of prospective vendors, you need to gather answers to some fundamental questions involving availability, security, performance, and customer service.

“Will the service be up and running when your business needs it most? Or will there be downtimes or unacceptable levels of application latency that may cost you customers or productivity? From an availability perspective, it’s important to understand if the service is deployed on an underlying infrastructure that is backed up with a meaningful service level agreement,” DiMemmo says. “You already have fundamental expectations of your service levels if you are managing your own IT today. When you move to the cloud, you minimally want to achieve that availability or better to ensure the performance of your infrastructure and applications.”

The level of availability you need depends on the criticality of the service to your business. If you’re looking to move your financial, CRM, or business intelligence systems to the cloud, it’s likely very important for the cloud service to be highly available. But if it’s a secondary application that is only utilized occasionally and not business critical, you may not need such high availability, and you can broaden your cloud provider landscape, DiMemmo says.

“The biggest concern about cloud computing is security,” says Presciutti. That includes the physical security of the cloud environment — where is the data center that houses the vendor’s servers and what is their plan if there is a tornado or hurricane? But it also refers to the security of the information your business maintains. Given that there are a host of new laws requiring businesses to protect personal information of customers, you need assurances that your cloud provider will abide by those same laws and help you protect that data. In addition, you don’t want breaches of sensitive company information.

“Everyone’s big objection is taking corporate information outside the four walls,” Presciutti says. “The cloud environment is shared. Your data might be running on the same servers or storage media as your competitors’ or other companies’. You have to ask yourself do you really want to have your data co-located with someone else’s.” This key objection has been addressed by many vendors that include security for both “data in motion” and “data at rest,” Presciutti says.  Most vendors approach cloud security through the conventional means of various levels of encryption, firewalls, etc.  Other companies, such as Unisys, have a different method they call “stealth” (reportedly developed for the U.S. Department of Defense) that in addition to the widely used encryption technologies also splits the bits of data as they traverse the network and are stored on media.

If your company needs to meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance or Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS70), you need assurances that your provider complies with those standards, as well. 

A few years ago, the early promoters and adopters of cloud computing were happy to see the fundamental promise of cloud services coming to market, DiMemmo says. Now that the cloud services have matured, and the adoption has progressed in the business community, the expectations are that service performance levels are critical since these services are now supporting a growing number of business-critical systems that make businesses run. “Companies are saying ‘We need it to work as well as or better than when it was in our own data center,'” DiMemmo says. “Today, the cloud provider now has to have performance metrics.”

Some of the key questions to ask when looking for a vendor include the following: How does the cloud service provider define performance? What metrics do they use? How does their definition of performance relate to end user satisfaction?

Customer Service
Ultimately, your choice may come down to a gut feeling about which cloud computing vendor you would prefer to do business with. There are a lot of questions you need to ask. How quickly does a vendor return your calls? How transparent are they in discussing what kind of technology they use or who their providers are and how often they have downtime? Do they answer your questions about the servers they use and the software they run and their disaster recovery plans?

“There are other ways to measure a vendor’s merit, as well. Ask for referrals and check up on as many as you can. If you’re thinking about moving a highly critical business application to the cloud, ask to visit their data center as it will tell you a lot about their capability. And, ultimately, you want to determine whether the vendor is willing to put their promises in writing in the form of a service level agreement (SLA). If the vendor relies on other software and hardware and infrastructure players to keep their service up and running, make sure all the promises in the underlying SLAs align properly,” DiMemmo says.

Hopefully you will never have to assess penalties for the vendor’s failure to perform as promised, but it’s a measure of the vendor’s confidence in their products and services if they are willing to include penalties in the SLA. “You really want to make sure that there is confidence in the service,” DiMemmo says. “If the underlying providers are willing to share some level of risk in delivery, it’s a good indicator those folks are confident in their infrastructure.”

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Insight on How Cloud Hosting Works

Friday, September 21st, 2012

A few years ago, cloud hosting was introduced. Many companies have adopted this technology for providing hosting services to their clients. The client may not be aware of any differences from traditional hosting, but will benefit from the additional features. To see what exactly you are getting, it makes sense to learn how cloud hosting works.

A major difference is that instead of working interfacing with a single web server, a client interfaces with a virtual cloud. The cloud consists of a number of servers which collectively contribute to its performance. This kind of configuration is much more flexible to changing demands than a dedicated server.

As with traditional hosting, a client can subscribe to a public cloud or have his or her own private cloud. In the case of a public cloud, different people have their own allocated area. Even though it is shared, each allocated area cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals. Customers are also able to apply for a private cloud. In this instance, only the client has access.

In the past, most hosting packages had extremely strict conditions. Each user had a specified amount of disk space. A maximum amount of bandwidth usage was also allowed. These limitations were strictly enforced and the user was heavily penalized when these were exceeded. When users wanted an upgrade, it often come with a sharp increase in subscription as well. These barriers are often not as strictly enforced with cloud hosting.

When individuals apply for cloud hosting services, it often comes with unlimited disk space and bandwidth. Cloud hosting is extremely flexible regarding the addition of resources. Servers can be added or removed from an existing cloud with ease. This makes it possible to change storage space and bandwidth with ease. In addition, this technology has brought down the price that people pay per unit.

Throughout the day, there is a great variation in the volume of Internet traffic. This influences overall performance. During periods when the Internet volume is at high levels, web hosts had a limited amount of bandwidth at their disposal to offer users. They have the ability to commission another server to the cloud with ease, so that they are able to deal with the increased demand. This can often be achieved without any noticeable difference to their subscribers.

One of the big advantages is that it is possible load applications to areas of the cloud where all users have access. Anybody with access to the Internet will be able to use these applications. Files will be stored in secure areas requiring authorization.

Businesses have another added advantage. In many aspects they can replace their LAN with a cloud. When they add their software requirements to their cloud, they have an environment for doing work from any location where they are able to access the Internet.

When one looks at how cloud hosting works, it is obvious that it provides a great mobile environment. All that is needed is a connection to the Internet. With such a connection it is possible to surf the Internet or do your work from wherever you are.


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Up’s and Down’s of Cloud Hosting

Friday, September 7th, 2012

‘Why use cloud hosting?’ is a common question. Many people are wary of any new fad on the internet because of the many rip-offs that have occurred. But cloud hosting is something that you should seriously consider.

So why use cloud hosting? Let’s look at the following reasons.

Firstly cloud hosting can be used to store all sorts of apps and information. This means that you don’t have to have a huge storage capacity on your computer or keep upgrading your hardware to the latest model.

Secondly while on the subject of hardware you can use almost any device to access the cloud host. So you can use your laptop, your tablet, a smartphone and of course your big old trusty pc. This is a huge advantage because it means that your information is as mobile as you are. You are no longer reliant on only one piece of hardware to access all your info; you can use any of your web connected devices.

The next stop on the way to answering your question on why use cloud hosting is security. To begin with cloud hosts have improved and continue to improve their security measures. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your information and access has the latest security measures in place and they are being continually upgraded. The question to ask here is do you continually upgrade security on your devices? I’m betting that you are like most people who don’t do this. Another factor about security is that if you have multiple devices then you provide several opportunities for hackers and cyber thieves to access your information. With cloud hosting they only get one opportunity and their chances of succeeding are extremely small.

For businesses requiring a network of technology equipment the cloud offers them a huge saving. It means businesses don’t have to upgrade all of their hardware, they have way less chance of a security breach, they don’t have to invest a huge amount of time in updating their hardware programs because once it’s on the net it’s available to everybody in their network, the cloud doesn’t need to be upgraded by the business because the cloud host is continually upgrading its services and all of this means that the whole process is extremely agile and quick to implement new programs, services, information or whatever new apps that a business, and individuals, need.

Basically the short answer to why use cloud hosting is that cloud computingwill store data, interact with that data and deliver the data to whoever is eligible to access it. This also means that several people can be accessing this data at the same time which means all those that need to be involved are on the same page. This alone cuts back on time through wastage because of meetings and travel.

So why use cloud hosting? Because it can save you a lot of money, time, is ultra-convenient and one day soon we will all be wondering how we managed without it.


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