How does cloud hosting work ?

What Is Cloud Computing?

Sometimes referred to as the cloud, cloud computing is a way for individuals and companies to access digital resources over the internet, from just about anywhere in the world that has connectivity. Cloud computing is typically provided by a third party as a software service, or is sometimes built in-house using DIY techniques and ad hoc hardware.

Cloud computing usually eliminates or reduces the need for on-site hardware and/or software. For example, if a person buys a hard drive backup service that relies on cloud computing, he or she could transfer his or her files through an internet connection so they’re stored on servers that may be located in another state or even in another country. Typically, the files would be stored in multiple places offering added security and redundancy that is impossible with standard hardware solutions.

Cloud computing offers the potential to vastly increase available resources since some people refer to cloud computing as IT outsourcing. The concept of outsourcing is particularly common in the customer service industry because companies outsource their call center duties to representatives in other places when they aren’t able to find suitable customer service agents locally.

Similarly, if you don’t have a desired type of software, or an on-site server large enough to handle the needs of your company, there’s a good chance cloud computing could fill that role.

Common Examples of Cloud Computing Technology

Cloud computing may seem like a foreign concept, but you probably use it every day without even realizing it. Here are some familiar tasks that are made possible through cloud computing:

Checking your email from anywhere in the world by logging onto a cloud-based webmail client.

Saving a document in an online cloud storage account and later accessing it at work, even though the original file resides on your home computer.

Collaborating in real-time on a shared online spreadsheet with colleagues that are working from different office locations.

Being able to rent software applications and save the documents you create online, rather than purchasing the physical software disks and having to download the contents to your hard drive. This example of cloud technology is especially useful considering how quickly some software becomes obsolete. Rather than making a one-time purchase of a physical disc, a user could pay a monthly access fee for the service, and then receive alerts when it’s time to download the latest version of the software.

Characteristics of Cloud Technology

There are several factors that set cloud computing technology apart from other options, and which make it especially attractive for business use. For starters, cloud computing technology provides a managed service so you can just focus on whatever task you’re doing that’s supported by the service.

When using your local version of Microsoft Word, you have to go into the program’s preferences and specify you want versions of your files to be periodically saved. Once you’ve done that, you can breathe easy knowing that, if you have a sudden power outage or other crisis that results in lost work, you’ll at least have a version of your file that was saved within the last few minutes. Even then, there’s always the chance your hard drive might crash, causing you to lose your work, despite taking the time to tweak settings so your versions are automatically saved.

However, when using Google Drive, which has a cloud-based word processor, everything you type is automatically saved in the cloud every few seconds. There’s no need to fiddle with settings to make sure work gets saved, or to designate a folder on your computer to store the saved content. The managed nature of cloud-based services like Google Drive allows users to simply enjoy the benefits of the technology they’re using and feel confident the service provider will take care of things like file saving and storage.

Many cloud computing services are available on-demand and are quite scalable. If your needs vary from one month to the next, its likely you can simply pay more or less depending on how your usage changes. Traditionally, there was always the risk of buying a pricey computer network and realizing it was larger than you needed, or perhaps discovering that the setup you have is much too small for what you’re trying to do. Cloud computing makes these scenarios less likely because you may subscribe to most cloud computing services without getting locked into lengthy contracts.

Cloud computing makes its respective services available publicly and privately, too. A cloud-based email account is one example of a public cloud computing service. However, many companies use virtual private networks (VPNs) to access secure private clouds, such as those that are only accessible to people who work at a particular company or department.

Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing Technology

Like any other type of technology, cloud computing has both good and bad attributes. Although we touched on a few advantages in the previous section, let’s go into more depth about the benefits of cloud technology, and then examine the potential downsides.

A reduced need for on-site IT staff

When choosing a service provider for your cloud computing needs, you’ll probably notice how most of them guarantee a very high level of consistent uptime. For example, a company may guarantee trouble-free service 365 days of the year and 99.9 percent of the time, and if it fails to meet those goals, you won’t pay for service. If you pick a provider that promises to be very reliable, you won’t be dependent on on-site IT professionals for troubleshooting.

Cost-effectiveness

As mentioned above, it’s usually possible to buy only the cloud services you need, and have the option of scaling up later when necessary. That means you don’t have to make huge investments in physical equipment that may break down, get stolen, or age out over time.

Fewer maintenance concerns

When dealing with physical computer networks, software, and hardware, there are a lot of maintenance needs.  You must dedicate resources for regularly optimizing processes that are working. Downloading new versions of software, installing them on computers and even running virus scans are all things that absorb valuable time and draw your attention away from other critical responsibilities. Cloud computing usually allows you to log into a well-maintained online interface and access the latest versions of applications and content — without having to download anything that needs to be checked for viruses.

Service is unavailable when the internet goes down

As mentioned above, most of today’s top providers of cloud-based technology are very reliable and can promise an exceptionally high percentage of uptime (almost unbelievably high). However, problems can occur if you’re solely reliant on the internet to access your files, and the internet connection in your workplace or home suddenly malfunctions.

If you’re using content in the cloud exclusively to run your business, operations will grind to a halt until your internet connection is restored.

Potential migration issues

If you start using one cloud computing service and then want to transfer your files over to a different provider, that process may prove much more complicated than expected. Although progress is occurring to make the task easier, there are still substantial incompatibility issues that may make moving your files between providers painful—at best.

Reduced customer control

Because cloud computing offers a managed service, that means customers give up some control to use what’s offered. That’s especially true in terms of what’s happening in the background. Many cloud computing service providers don’t provide details about their infrastructures, which may be frustrating to customers that prefer to handle administration needs on their own.

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