We Need to Move to “The Cloud” – Where to Go?

Cloud Question MarkAs previously discussed in my article, “We Need to Move to “The Cloud.” – The Question vs the Reality”, I established that there are specific use cases and applications that are prime candidates for “The Cloud.”   The next logical question is “Where do we go?”

Dozens of well-known companies offer reliable web hosting for small to medium size Corporate Web Sites without issue.  Although there are thousands of companies offering web hosting services, make sure to do proper due diligence and ask about their infrastructure – the technology behind their product offerings.  Specifically reliability or “up time” and redundancy or duplication of technology if something fails.

Web Site Hosting ranges in price from free to tens of dollars per month for simple sites and from tens to hundreds of dollars for larger content and eCommece Sites.  This is very much of an industry where you get what you pay for.  If your web hosting is free, chances are its’ availability is at the convenience of the Hosting Provider.  In other words, if it is “up” great, if not, “What do you expect for free?”

Be wary of the $1.99 and $9.99 hosting packages.  Many offer nothing more than “Best Efforts” service levels to keep your site up and operational, i.e. “visible” on the Web.  We all know what we do the minute we see “Site not found.”  We immediately move on to the next supplier and probably never return to that original web site.

If your web site is not accessible, to the Internet consumer, it is the equivalent of hanging a sign that says, “Out of Business” on the front door.  Obviously, when one of the major providers has an outage and it makes the National News, you may get a free pass from your Business Customers but for general consumers, unless you are a destination site like a Walmart or Facebook, consumers will probably not return nor make a second attempt to reach you.

If you are wondering why I did not immediately mention the Big 3 in Cloud Hosting, Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Azure, it is because these are predominantly infrastructure providers.  If you are looking to convert the physical server in your office in to a virtual server and move it to “The Cloud”, then you should certainly be looking at these companies for their respective value proposition.  (By physical server, I am referring to a Server class computer running an Operating System such as Microsoft Windows Server or Linux that is used for storing files or hosting Line of Business applications like Accounting Software, Inventory Control, Email, and similar centralized business applications.)

Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Azure offer not only the ability to build a Server in “The Cloud” but also target specific services like File Storage, Archiving of Backup Files, Advanced Database Services, and raw computing power for advanced processing like calculating weather patterns and genomes.

You can still benefit from the power and reliability of these behemoths by looking for a Web Hosting company that built their technology on one of these three major providers.  Look for “Powered By” and the appropriate co-branded Logo.  There are never any guarantees that Web Hosting companies that build on the Big 3 will be more reliable than those that build on their own technology but it does offer you a baseline starting point for your research.

If you are looking for Infrastructure Cloud Hosting to move your Servers or specific Line of Business Applications, there are dozens of exceptional providers that meet all of the compliance requirements and have the references and credentials to pass any level of due diligence. Don’t just limit yourself to the Big 3.  In fact, some of the lesser-known Boutique Cloud Hosting Infrastructure providers actually have better Service Level Agreements.

If you are looking for a place to host your company web site or eCommerce store, there are many well known providers available.  Make sure to review the Service Level Agreement to make sure that their offering meets your business requirements for “up time”, support, and recovery.

For a professional assessment or assistance with selecting a Cloud Hosting provider, feel free to contact me at jason@jasonpalmer.com

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