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Cloud Hosting: a reputation worth defending

Opting to take advantage of the cloud enables companies to access data from almost any location and saves both time and money. Due in part to recent scandals, including the 2013 NSA revelations by Edward Snowden, as well as recent leaks involving Hollywood Stars, the image of cloud hosting has taken a bit of a hit as of late. Understandably, many users often wonder whether or not their data remains in safe hands. Despite all of this, few people truly understand what terms like ‘the cloud’, ‘cloud hosting’ or ‘cloud computing’ actually mean.

So what exactly is a cloud?

Many hosting providers offer their customers the possibility of saving or hosting both personal and commercial data in the cloud. Here data is not saved on a computer hard drive or even on a company server at the office, but is instead stored on server farms located within the cloud provider. Due to the location of business and personal data when stored in the cloud, users of this service often get the impression that their data is far out of reach, hence the idea that data is protected in a distant ‘cloud’.

Access to the cloud takes place through the use of a network, for example, the internet. With the cloud, all you need is access to the internet, and you are only a few clicks away from your data, no matter where you may find yourself. Music streaming services such as Spotify, for example, rely on cloud technology; this allows the users to listen to their favourite songs at any time. For more sensitive data, like those of businesses, a private cloud can be created and accessed exclusively through an internal company intranet.

How is the cloud used?

Essentially there are two ways to approach using the cloud. One method entails the use of streaming or external storage services such as Amazon Prime or Dropbox. With these options, the client purchases access to either external storage space or pre-stored data such as music or TV. In this scenario, the customer is not directly involved in the hosting process. A different scenario, however, arises when the customer wishes to directly employ the use of cloud hosting services. In this case, the provider supplies the client with a cloud server that can then be customised to suit the individual IT demands of the customer. When used in this way, it does not matter if the cloud is being used to host a website or an online shop. The server can also be used for administration needs or for the shared use of various applications.

The strength of the cloud hosting lies it its ability to function independently of hardware. In contrast to traditional forms of hosting, computer processes in the cloud can be filtered through central software and directed towards appropriate hardware. When faced with technical problems, hardware and other equipment can be comfortably replaced without having to worry about problems with servers or websites.

Cloud Hosting: Flexible and cost-effective

Despite being wireless, cloud hosting services are not completely immune to run-ins with technical problems. What cloud hosting does offer, however, is the ability on the part of the user to redefine the use of the desired performance without having to completely exchange a server. At their own discretion, users are able to scale down processing power as well as work and hard drive storage. Usage fees follow a pay-as-you-go system and are calculated based on use measured by the second, minute, or hour.

It is precisely this pay-as-you go feature that makes using the cloud so affordable and cost-effective, and unlike almost any other available server solution. This flexibility can save on cost by eliminating the need to purchase a larger server; because usage capacity can be increased as needed. Operators of online stores for seasonal goods, such as winter clothing, do not need to worry about payment during the spring and summer months. In times of low business activity, desired services can simply be scaled back, thus keeping expenses to a minimum.

What’s the difference between cloud hosting and cloud computing?

When searching for different options for cloud hosting, one is bound to run into the term ‘cloud computing’. Put simply, cloud hosting is a subset of a broader field that is most commonly referred to as ‘cloud computing’. The options that cloud computing offers extend wide beyond those of a typical server. So what exactly is cloud computing? What are its advantages?

Some of the key differences of the various service models for cloud computing are laid out here:

  1. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): Through the cloud, the user is given access to virtual hardware resources such as computers, networks, or storage space. The supplied software can be used as desired. Installation and maintenance, however, remains the responsibility of the customer.
  2. Platform as a Service (Paas): The service provider supplies the user with a software environment in the form of a framework (a form of virtual scaffolding of sorts) and proceeds to provide maintenance for this structure. The user can develop and carry out their own applications on this platform.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS): This is often considered to be the “top level” of cloud computing. The user is able to access a provided software, such as Office applications, and is spared the burden of having deal with updates and functionality issues.

How safe is data when stored in the cloud?

When assessing the safety of stored data in the cloud, there are two important aspects to take into account: the location of the server and the location of the contracted service provider’s legal headquarters. Servers of cloud service providers fall under the same legal jurisdiction of the country in which they are registered. This means that companies that are registered in the United Kingdom , for example, are beholden to the British legal system, even if the actual server is located outside of Europe. This is important because much regional variation exists among clouds services. As a member of the European Union, the UK is under the jurisdiction of EU Data Protection legislation. Of course it remains to be seen how long that will remain the case as Britain prepares to leave the EU, however it is widely expected that there will be no dramatic changes in this area.

For comparison, EU data protection laws are generally considered to be stricter than those in the USA, where there is no single data protection law of the same standard. In order to provide the maximum security for their data, potential customers should carefully look into important legal matters before deciding whether to enter into a contract with a provider. For this reason, 1&1 allows the customer to freely choose between different locations for their data centers (UK, Europe, USA).

The perks of cloud hosting

While the threat of security breaches should not be ignored when considering the use of cloud hosting services, other, more traditional servers, can also be lacking on this front. The advantages of cloud computing are numerous, and considering that cloud servers are most often operated through the internet, access to data is theoretically possible almost anywhere in the world. Whether commuting by rail or just waiting at the airport, users have the flexibility to choose between working on company projects or just streaming music and videos on the go. No matter what the purpose for your storage may be, data is always maintained according to the highest industry standards; internet access remains the only prerequisite for use. Should the need of extra applications, e.g. computing capacity, storage, etc. arise these additional demands can be met simply by contacting the provider.

Cloud servers are tailored to specific hardware and hence carry with them a low risk of breakdown. For this reason they are particularly well suited for hosting websites or online stores that rely on high volumes of traffic to suit their numerous clientele. The greatest advantage offered by cloud hosting, however, is its unique pricing model.
Unlike typical service solutions, users do not have to fret about fixed monthly rates, and instead are afforded the benefit of only having to pay for the true amount of data they have used.

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