Whether you’re a startup just in the beginning stages of building a website and database, or a maturing organization hoping to be the next Google or Amazon, it’s important to realize that there are cheaper alternatives to in-house IT infrastructure. Cloud technologies are here to stay, and they’re allowing businesses and organizations of all kinds to significantly reduce web and data-related costs.
But how do you know when cloud hosting is right for you?
Making that call doesn’t require being an expert in cloud technology: but it does require some competency in your own organizational IT needs. Sure, cloud technologies are lean and agile, and can easily scale up (or down) depending on your needs: but that doesn’t mean it’s not without a few drawbacks which should be carefully considered. With that in mind, we’ll cover a few major points which you should consider before making the call.
Assess Your Staff
Does your organization already have a technologically-competent staff who could manage on-site IT responsibilities? One of the biggest reasons organizations consider cloud-based hosting is to avoid the expense not just of the technology itself, but of the skilled workers to manage it. Some risky individuals make the mistake of trusting these responsibilities in the hands of non-tech-skilled staff, but that’s almost always a recipe for disaster.
Another big perk of cloud services? Many of them will take care of basic administration for you, meaning you can focus on growth and management, and spend less time worrying about technical issues.
Are You Anticipating Rapid Growth?
One of the primary benefits to cloud hosting is that it can easily grow to accommodate rapidly-expanding traffic needs. This isn’t just limited to websites and applications which are growing in popularity, but those who might see major bursts of seasonal activity. With traditional hosting, it’s much more difficult to easily accommodate these kinds of shifting traffic demands: you’re often stuck footing the cost of the maximums, even when you need less.
Some Security Perks
Worried about DDoS attacks? With Cloud hosting, if one server becomes overloaded, your web applications are simply shifted to another. This protection, while not absolute, is still the primary reason high-risk websites like WikiLeaks have moved to the cloud. If you manage a potentially high-risk website, or simply like the thought of an additional buffer against this common form of attack, cloud hosting might be a great option for you.
Cloud hosting options are cheaper… but only on the short term. Purchasing the hardware and software for in-house servers and hosting technology usually represents a relatively large up-front expense. Comparatively, cloud hosting is usually a significantly smaller expense… but which, over enough months or years, can quickly outstrip the cash costs of outright server ownership. That said, ownership of your own hosting hardware requires the skills to manage it; those same skills are rolled into the costs of cloud hosting.
Depending on your organization, you might be handling secure information: and be legally bound to protect that information to the best of your ability. And unfortunately, using cloud hosting is effectively outsourcing data storage, which can put your organization in a tricky position. Often, there’s simply less liability if you handle all of that sensitive information in-house. If you feel strongly about considering cloud hosting, always be sure to thoroughly vet their security measures before signing a contract.
The Bottom Line
Is cloud hosting right for you? Before making the plunge, you should familiarize yourself with your organization’s IT needs, and spend a good amount of time comparing cloud hosting with other alternatives. The perks of cloud computing are pretty substantial: it can afford some cybersecurity protections, allow you to better accommodate growing or variable traffic rates, and even eliminate the need for IT staff if you select your provider wisely.