Does this situation seem familiar to you?
— Hey, can you please send the snaps that you took at the cafe last night?
— Sure. I will upload it to the Cloud, will share the link in a while. :-)
(With a confused face, you scratch your head and look up at the sky) — What the heck is the Cloud?
This is exactly what happened in the hit movie, “Creed”, when Michael Jordan told Sylvester Stallone that the photo he clicked was sent (or “uploaded”) to the Cloud. Muscular Stallone had little to no idea what the Cloud was – like a caveman discovering the joys of electric heating.
I have to agree that tech terms (to non-techies) can get very confusing sometimes. Although they sound simple, it’s often another world to them.
Interestingly, we use “Cloud services” on a daily basis: Gmail, Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive – these services are all cloud-based.
What exactly is the Cloud?
Let’s look at this like we’re newbies. I was – I didn’t understand much of the technology at first. As I found nuggets of knowledge that were explained clearly, I “got it” much quicker, and everything made a lot more sense.
We have been using emails and accessing websites for more than a decade now. For all these services to work, it needs a server (which is essentially a computer that is connected to high-speed internet 24/7). In most cases, this computer has similar components to what we use: RAM, harddisk storage, CPU, motherboards, graphic cards, etc. The main differences, though, are that it never shuts down, is connected to internet 24/7 and has specific applications installed on it that transform it into a server.
Now, imagine, if there is no space left in your hard disk, the RAM (or CPU) has crashed and you are unable to connect to the internet. In that case, you will not be able to login to your computer. So, if there are any important files in your PC, you will not be able to access them because you will get a connection error. This is called DOWNTIME. You know those sites that are “down”, with pages showing “503 Error” (unable to connect to the server)?
Usually, that downtime is a result of those components crashing. Technicians or webmasters have to go into the server and fix errors.
This doesn’t happen in the Cloud ever. The Cloud has 100% “uptime”, because it isn’t just one thing – it’s a series of internet servers based online.
So, after getting the dirt on what Cloud is, let’s look at what the Cloud actually does.
What does the Cloud do?
When there is a hardware (RAM, CPU, motherboard etc.) failure in a server, it will route traffic to a backup server. Therefore, hardware failures won’t affect the evil downtimes. Similarly, in the case of software failure (server configuration), when files are not accessible, the server will again route traffic to backup servers. In the case of traffic spikes, the Cloud will route partial traffic to a backup server to avoid load issues which can crash the server.
In Cloud servers, you can increase/decrease resources (RAM, CPU, storage etc.) anytime as you see fit. This is not possible with traditional shared, VPS or dedicated hostings.
That is why many industries run their services in the Cloud. When traffic goes off the chart and one can easily increase resources of the server.
3. Cloud = 100% Uptime
Whatever application, files, images, videos are there on the Cloud, they’re all accessible all the time. The Cloud also makes accessing and sending everything faster.
So, if one server or some hardware goes down, the other one comes up. So, you don’t have to worry about losing information at all.
It is difficult to find a web host that has almost 100% uptime rate.
- Dedicated hosting would be a better choice than a shared or VPS hosting, as dedicated hosting has 100% server-hardware/resources dedicated to it
- Whereas with shared hosting, all resources are shared with neighbours
- While in VPS hosting, specific resources (like 2GB RAM out of server 32GB RAM etc.) are assigned
Surprisingly, neither shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting can guarantee 100% uptime when there is hardware failure. Whether it’s because of heat, unforeseeable crashes, or anything else that can derail you – such as software failure which is often due to traffic spikes that can’t be handled with the current server’s configuration, configuration faults, or server update faults.
It’s important to remember that Cloud servers are expensive, meaning they will take a check out of your wallet. This is because Clouds are a phenomenal service to the internet, and Cloud hosting services know this.
5. Cloud Hosting Providers
Public Cloud servers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, RackSpace, and SoftLayer are incredibly (and almost unbelievably) expensive.
Luckily for us, there are true Cloud servers that are top tier providers like the big guys mentioned before. The only difference? They aren’t expensive.
Servers such as Linode, DigitalOcean and Vultr, just to name a few. Linode was actually listed among the top 4 cloud servers being used by top 10,000 Alexa sites.
There is a downside, however. These more affordable Cloud hosting servers may not have 100% scalability or redundancy features, the way the big dogs do. Keep in mind that they are just as worthy of hosting your files/documents/site etc. as the more expensive providers.
6. Installing & Configuring Cloud Servers
Sadly, the main trouble comes in when it’s time to actually set up a Cloud server, which requires high-end technical skills and costs a good sum. Luckily, we have ServerPilot that can do this work for free! That’s something to cheer about.
With all the advantages Cloud hosting offers, it’s still confusing how people resort to traditional hosting methods. Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about the huge benefits Cloud hosting gives you and your valued visitors. In the end, aren’t we doing this for the happy experiences of our visitors and customers?
Featured photo credit: heladodementa/pixabay.com via pixabay.com