Cloud Hosting – a term that is overused to death. A term that has been subject of many marketing nonsense. And the very term that leaves everybody perplexed and misled.
You see, the problem with “cloud” is that it doesn’t really tell anything. And then the meaning people interpret is so diverse from marketers to SaaS guys to IaaS guys to ehh, pretty much everybody. So for most end-users that just want their websites up in the air (pun intended), cloud hosting is just another dazzling but impossible to understand term.
First of all, before we continue, we gotta say this out loud: cloud computing isn’t the magic bullet that will automagically solve your hosting problems.
There you go, we’ve said it. We have been wanting to say this for awhile. It’s been itching to jump out of our throats for ages!
Despite what you may be heard and been told, and despite all the hypes and pizzazz marketing people create out of thin air (again, pun intended), the cloud is totally not a solution for website owners.
Wait, don’t brand us as lunatics just yet! Let us explain.
Cloud is basically a term that talk about really a lot of things: infrastructures, software and platform on the Web, and so on. It is essentially for IT people, and that’s the intended audience. It is definitely not for most end-users to fiddle with.
Companies like WPEngine, Rackspace and others use “cloud hosting” to create solutions for you, the end-user. They will utilize cloud computing as infrastructure to create platforms where you can host your websites. That’s
So ehhh, why do a lot of hosting companies talk about cloud this and cloud that? Simple: it’s latest and trendiest thing. It tends to attract people. Hey, that’s just how marketing works, okay?
We also see many misconceptions about cloud born out of hyped marketing messages and misunderstood blog posts. So here we are, presenting you with 5 myths of cloud hosting. This may or may not help you to understand more about cloud hosting. Proceed with caution.
Myth 1. Hackers Can’t Reach Da Cloud!
Ahhh, nope. Not exactly. If you really think cloud always automatically mean uber secured, you are dead wrong.
Of course, companies that provide cloud computing infrastructures (like Rackspace and Amazon) take security seriously, and all servers are housed in secure data centers with firewalls and other superb security practices. But that doesn’t solve the security problems completely.
You see, when we talk about security, there are different layers of security. Infrastructure security is one thing, then there is node-level security to each cloud servers (if you are using one like AWS EC2 or Rackspace cloud server). And there is application-level security, which can be a real problem.
The cloud computing infrastructure companies will handle their security, while for each cloud servers we use, it really depends on how it is being used. If a company that wants to provide a hosting platform for end-users is using cloud servers from companies like Amazon, then that company is liable for making those cloud servers secure.
But application-level security is totally a PITA. It depends on each individual web applications we install. And each and every one of them have security flaws. Although popular ones like WordPress and Joomla get security patches regularly to fix them, hackers can still find new loopholes to exploit. Even then, plugins and extra modules could pose security risks too.
So no, cloud doesn’t automatically mean uber awesome Matrix-level security. The provider should have application-level security detection, scanning and prevention software installed, and also provide security features for blocking brute force password cracking and SQL injections. Only then your security will be good. Note that we only said good, not complete.
Myth 2. My Data Is Safe On Cloud
Yes and no.
This myth is really related to myth #1. We have to define what is data safety here.
Data safety comes when your data has redundant copies (read: backups) so that when your website fails, hacked or even if you accidentally delete something, you could bring your data back. And those backup copies of your data are stored in places that ensure integrity of your data, and also have more redundant copies.
Many people think that being on the cloud means their data is automatically save. Sure, the data are backed up regularly for the whole infrastructure and platform, including yours since your website is hosted there. But how about the importance of your data?
Your data is of utmost importance to you, but for the provider backing up petabytes of data everyday, they will take time to just restore one piece of data missing. Extracting a small backup of a website from petabytes of data will take sometimes (since they have to restore the whole thing if everything has failed, but if not, good luck getting that backup).
So what do you do? Do your own backups. Nothing is better than that.
Myth 3. Cloud = Automatic Scaling
Cloud isn’t magic. It’s just a lot of technologies put together create infrastructures. A lot of complicated technology.
One misconception of cloud hosting is that (mainly because of hyped marketing messages), you can automatically scale a website from the power of a smartphone to NASA-level supercomputer with unlimited amounts of computing power and resources, all at a single click. That. Just. Ain’t. Happening. Period.
Sure, cloud hosting gives you some level of scaling, but it is not automatic. There are a lot of things to do such as upgrading the infrastructure, configure the new stuffs, change software and all sort, just to leverage or expand the scalability. It all comes at a cost too.
Most cloud hosting providers will give you a range though, basically an estimated computing power that will be required. You can start from beginning part of the range, then upgrade if you need in the given constraints. But you won’t automatically scale just because you host on the cloud.
If you are thinking of going with Rackspace or Amazon AWS to go all geek-out, then good luck. They won’t automatically scale either. They will give you the tools and the infrastructure. But scaling is your problem.
Yes, it is flexible. And no, it is not automatic unless you spend money, time and efforts to make it semi-automatic.
Myth 4. Clouds Are For End Users
This is not even a yes and no thing. It is just dead wrong.
Sure, we all see cloud hosting being marketed as for end-users. Cloud this and cloud that, but are they really designed for end-users? Are they optimized for end-users?
Nope. If someone says otherwise, either it’s a lie or they are not giving you cloud hosting but instead a platform based on cloud and calling it “cloud hosting”.
Cloud technologies are for IT folks. People like us, not for people who just want to have a good website up and running but don’t bother about infrastructure. Definitely not for bloggers or any types of end-users.
Unless you want to read up “Dummies Guide To Be A Sysadmin” and “How To Configure Linux Servers” and an endless series of books on setting up servers, doing load-balancing, deploying automation, etc. etc., and spending countless hours of trial and error, clouds are definitely not for you. Of course, if you are already an experienced sysadmin and know all those stuffs, by all means, go ahead and knock yourself out. You will have one heck of a fun time setting up multiple servers and doing everything you want at just a fraction of cost from ten years ago.
Companies like WPEngine and Web Synthesis use cloud hosting infrastructures and take care of all those setting up servers and every complicated stuffs, to bring you an easy to use platform where you can run your websites with ease. If you are an end-user, that is where you should be spending money on.
Myth 5. 200% Uptime, Y’all!
Another misconception is that cloud hosting guarantees 100% uptime. Or even 200% in some cases. Just don’t ask us where the heck extra 100% of uptime comes from. Maybe from another dimension?
If the cloud hosting infrastructure is actually configured to be failsafe, with no single points of failure, and automated deployment of new servers if something goes wrong, then yeah, you will have a pretty good uptime (provided that no application-level failure is happening). At a touch of a button, you can get new servers replacing the old ones and hosting your site, taking care of cloning the configurations and all that. Need more processing power or RAM? Just push a button or two.
But if your cloud hosting provider is basically tying a bunch of servers together in a series of complicated configurations for caching, routing, load balancing, database syncing and whatnot, then you are in trouble. Every one of those servers are points of failure. If one fails, and there is no failsafe takeovers configured to replace the failing one, your website is doomed.
So What Should You Choose?
It really comes down to who you are, and what you want to achieve.
Are you an end-user that just wants to have a website up and running, and lack of technical skills or time to setup and maintain a bunch of your own cloud servers? Then go with companies that provide cloud hosting as a platform, not as infrastructure. Companies like WPEngine, Web Synthesis and Page.ly would serve you really good for your WordPress-powered sites. For more generic stuffs, there are companies like MediaTemple which provide easy to use hosting services over cloud computing infrastructures. You don’t have to configure stuffs.
Now if you have competent technical skills or have budget to afford a sysadmin, and have needs that will outgrow what cloud hosting platform providers can give you, then you can go ahead with companies like VPS.NET, Amazon AWS and Rackspace. They are great companies, and you will have one heck of a time setting up your own infrastructure using them.
If you are still learning about being a sysadmin and want to play around without costing a bomb, Amazon AWS should be your choice. After all, any server instances cost just a few cents per hour! That is totally a no-brainer. Even the most expensive Amazon EC2 instance will cost just $1.84 per hour! You can get pretty good medium-level EC2 instances at only 26 cents per hour. Just don’t forget to switch it off.
Think you are now ready to choose a good cloud hosting provider? Why don’t you use our hosting companies comparison tool to evaluate on your own?