What is the reality of cloud-hosting? App developer Richard Myers looks at the issues.

Cloud-hosting is a new way of hosting websites. It relies almost entirely on the internet, as opposed to physical servers. The main benefits of this form of hosting are it’s more secure, cheaper, and more accessible. If you want to take advantage of all this, consider cloud-hosting.

There are a lot of untruths about hosting on the cloud, though. To help you understand the reality of cloud-hosting, we’re going to discuss some of the important facts and myths.

Fact - The cloud is everywhere

If you’ve used Dropbox, Facebook, or Google Apps, you’ve already taken advantage of the cloud. All the data held on these platforms is held in the cloud. It doesn’t require any expertise to use, nor does it require you to sign up to anything complex. The digital world has already started to make the transition towards this cheaper method of hosting virtual data.

Myth - You have to rewrite your website

Early cloud platforms made it difficult for people to take advantage of the cloud. They required you to rewrite your entire website framework to be compatible with the cloud. This really isn’t necessary these days. Your web host will take care of any changes to your framework.

In fact, you won’t even know any changes have been made. Your site will look and feel exactly the same. You don’t need to have any prior computer experience to use it.

Fact - Businesses could save a fifth on technology costs

It’s true. If a small business decides to use cloud computing, they can save up to a fifth on technology costs. Think about how much easier life would be if you could claim back 20 per cent of the money you spend on technology each year.

The cloud is cheaper because it doesn’t need to use large servers. You aren’t renting out part of a server. You’re using the internet itself to host your data. It’s why this new technology is a fraction of the cost of conventional server hosting.

What you should expect to see is a change in the cost of traditional hosting. As fewer people use it, the remaining web hosts will have to boost their prices to cover costs. Dedicated server hosting will survive, but traditional hosting will most certainly decline in prominence.

Myth - Picking a package is complicated

The cloud is simple to understand as a concept. Granted, it’s more complex than we’ve made out here, but you don’t need to know it on a deeper level than what we’ve described. Picking the right hosting package for you shouldn’t be complicated. If you look at most hosts, it isn’t.

They list exactly what you get for your money in the form of bullet points. You won’t have to deal with any hidden charges or fees. Essentially, whether you get value for money relies on how good you are at researching different web hosts. Stick with the bigger and more well-known names.

If it means paying a dollar or two more, it shouldn’t matter. The most important thing for any business owner is peace of mind.

Myth - Cloud computing is dangerous for personal devices

It’s not unsafe for employees to use their personal devices with the cloud when they’re in the workplace. It’s just like using a computer at an internet café. Take all the necessary safety precautions, such as not saving passwords and entering them manually each time.

It’s true there has been a wave of hack attacks through the cloud. After inspecting the data, the vast majority of victims didn’t have updated software, and some of them even had no protection at all.

This isn’t the fault of the cloud. You have to take responsibility for your own online security. These incidents underline the importance of automatically installing updates and regularly monitoring your online security.

Fact - Cloud computing is here to stay

Despite the fact the cloud has been here for a few years now, there are still those who believe it’s a complete fad. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s look at what a fad is to explain why it’s a technology for the future.

A fad is something which doesn’t necessarily change the way we live our lives. It might alter an existing function slightly, but it doesn’t bring any vast improvements. The cloud has shown time and time again it’s something which genuinely improves the way we do things. Whenever someone asks ‘What is Cloud Computing?’ they’re turned onto something which benefits them more than existing options.

This is why fads die out and improvements live on. One represents advancement and the other doesn’t.

Myth - Cloud providers are safe and well

The cloud has done many things. One thing it hasn’t done is remove the risk of malicious attacks. Your hosting provider should still take appropriate steps to secure data on the cloud by offering secure cloud hosting solutions. If they don’t, there’s a good chance a hacker will be able to get through.

Remember, cloud computing is just another way of storing data. It’s still password protected. If a hacker gained access to your computer, he could still access your data by using your password. Whilst it has meant major steps forward in terms of virtual security, it hasn’t completely removed the risk.

Hackers can and will adapt to the cloud. It will always be easier for inexperienced computer users to secure themselves, but this doesn’t mean cloud providers and users alike shouldn’t remain vigilant.

Fact - Productivity and efficiency has increased

The cloud is directly responsible for major increases in business productivity and efficiency. Users can access their data from anywhere without the need for external hard drives and memory sticks. Many workers have started to work at home remotely.

For businesses, this has enabled them to continue working on days where their employees can’t get into the office, such as during heavy snow and flooding. It’s also meant their employees can access information on the go from their mobile devices.

Many companies who attend business conferences can remain in full contact with their work materials wherever they are. All they need is a working internet connection, or wi-fi to do it.

Myth - You need to understand it

Whilst it’s always handy to know as much as possible about the cloud, it isn’t essential. If you don’t know anything about the cloud, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is you know how to use it. The Google cloud platform, in the form of Gmail, Facebook, and the Steam network are all examples of the cloud. You’re using it now, so why would you need to understand it on a deeper level?