Monday, May 23, 2011
What is the “cloud”? And how is it different from the internet?
The cloud is software that allows the computing capacity of computers or servers on the internet to be shared. Not all the internet uses cloud technology and cloud technology does not impact storage capacity. Amazon played a key role in the development and subsequent spread of ‘cloud computing’. In 2006 Amazon discovered that like other computer networks, they were typically using less than 10% of available server capacity, the 90% ‘available’ capacity was mostly idle just to have capacity to handle occasional spikes. Amazon made a significant capital investment; software and hardware that drove the implementation and subsequent spread of cloud technology; others followed.
The concept of the cloud can be compared to how your local power company delivers electricity to your home. Rather than each home possessing and maintaining individual generators with capacity to handle each homes peak demand, power companies link the demands of the entire service area into a network of power grids. The power company still has capacity limitations but for example not everyone uses their oven at the same time; business peak requirements differ from residential; power can be shifted were needed within the grid.
Computation or server capacity can be shared much like electric power. Rather than dedicated servers with capacity to meet peak demands servers are networked together. When internet users access a specific website they no longer find that site on a specific server, but at a ‘virtual location’ which may shift from one server to another as demand shifts. Networked properly; if one server crashes (we’ve all seen that) the website merely moves to another virtual site.
If I have a website what will be the effect of moving to cloud computing?
As recently as a few years ago a locally hosted or in-house server was often a cost saver and more secure. Now you will find your cloud hosted site more cost effective more reliable and more secure. The security of a local or in-house server was somewhat illusionary, often a result of being too small to be a target for hackers. Your cloud hosting devotes whatever resources are needed to avoid viruses and hackers. It is inevitable that a single server on the internet will at some point either crash or require maintenance; your cloud hosted site merely moves to a new ‘virtual location’. That does not mean you will never have a problem, but any issues will be rare and software related. Larger sites; those requiring substantial bandwidth in addition to improved security and reliability should see some reductions in hosting rates, reflective of optimized computing capacity.
At Santek we feature the benefits of a ‘state of the art’ cloud hosted site. We have contracted commercial bandwidth or computing capacity at commercial rates. This allows us to split this capacity while handling all billing and support for your website in-house. The result competitive rates and the best personalized support available anywhere.
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