Like many technological terms, ‘cloud hosting’ was first whispered in the dark recesses of computer and telecoms trade shows, but quickly found its way into the public domain as the technology took off. Now everyone is referring to ‘the cloud’ – telecoms providers frequently talk of backing up and sharing files in a cloud, while Apple has its own dedicated iCloud, for sharing files between iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices. So what is the cloud, where has the sun gone, and what happens if it rains?
Image source: Wikipedia.
Simply put, cloud hosting is an umbrella term that refers to the division of resources over a number of different web servers, as used by a website or provider of internet data services. Spreading resources makes for more efficient operation, as a website can use multiple servers to handle high levels of traffic without any crippling bandwidth issues. Cloud hosting also protects a website from malfunction and data loss, as the service isn’t tied to the operational integrity of a dedicated server. Whereas real clouds are formless, transient and soon make way for sunshine, cloud hosting is here to stay – unless a malevolent Blofeld-style madman manages to unplug the worldwide web, you can be sure that if your website is hosted on a server cloud, it will remain stable and active as long as you want it to.
The cloud hosting system works by designating a specific task to one of a number of individual servers, which are all linked together as part of a greater whole. As security, other servers remain on stand-by, ready to spring into action if one of the main servers experiences a malfunction, or requires maintenance. Current users of cloud hosting technology include Google, which spreads its search engine functionality over hundreds of separate servers, making sure that it remains fast, effective and reliable. Although it’s generally more efficient than previous web hosting technology, the performance of any cloud hosting system is dependent on the quality of the individual servers that it uses, which makes it very important to avoid cheap server technology if you want to maintain an effective service.
Up until now, cloud hosting has mainly been the preserve of large multinational companies, but it will inevitably become more readily available to smaller businesses as the technology becomes more commonplace. So if you think your business could benefit from a cloud hosting system, keep an eye on the market – you might find that you can make use of a quality service at an affordable price, much sooner than you think!