As 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 category of Web Services – which includes such applications as Company Web Sites, Blogging Sites, and eCommerce Sites are perhaps the best examples of use cases for “The Cloud.”
My web site, www.jasonpalmer.com is both a Company Web Site with information about Palmer Computer Services, Inc. and the Consulting Services offered by me, Jason Palmer, as well as a blogging site based on WordPress. Since the information is inherently for public consumption, it makes perfect sense for the site to be hosted outside my corporate network and in “The Cloud.”
The key advantage is obvious: If the web site is hosted off-site in “The Cloud”, and there is no direct connection between “The Cloud” hosted web site and the corporate network, then even if the web site is hacked, the damage is completely contained. The site can be restored from a backup and returned to service relatively quickly.
Another advantage of hosting the Company Web Site in the “The Cloud” is that it is assumed that most Enterprise Class Hosting companies will have significantly more computer technology infrastructure and layers of redundancy than your own corporate data center or computer room. Enterprise Class Hosting companies such as Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure are extremely robust in their basic offerings and in advanced configurations, provide mission critical “up” time with the ability to mirror a web site globally translating to zero down time. In general, most Cloud Hosting Providers have Data Centers in multiple regions of the Country as well as around the World.
This enables you to host your web site hundreds or thousands of miles away from your offices so that in the event of a regional disaster, like a Hurricane, the company web site will still be operational. In a disaster, many companies use their web site to post current operational status information. For example, a Utility company will post updates on outages and repair progress. Or, a school or company might post information about closings or shortened hours of operation.
Given that “The Cloud” is a 24-hour, 7 Day a week, 365 Days a Year environment, the larger Cloud Hosting Companies offer around-the-clock service and support with endless amounts of resources. This enables you to quickly scale your web site to meet scheduled or unscheduled demand at your convenience.
For example, if you run an eCommerce web site, it is presumed that from Thanksgiving to Christmas the number of visitors to your site will increase significantly. With a Cloud hosted web site, it is relatively easy to increase the capacity of the web site to handle the additional web visitor traffic. This can be a simple as making a few changes on a control panel to assign more resources and paying an incremental additional fee or calling in to a support representative for assistance. The theory is that “help” is always available and no matter how much capacity you need, it is available on-demand, without issue.
Another example might be that a company has a positive or negative publicity event causing excessive unplanned traffic from people looking for additional information. Think “Oil Spill” or “The Royal Birth.” Normal visitor traffic might be 20,000 people a day but after the event, traffic might spike to ten times that amount to over 200,000 per day (or if a large company, perhaps hundreds of thousands per day to millions per day.) Cloud Hosted sites can immediately add in the additional capacity for the short period of time to handle the spike in traffic and then gradually back off the additional capacity as traffic levels return to normal.
This type of flexible scalability would be almost impossible to accomplish with most internal corporate data centers.
Moving a company’s Web Services to “The Cloud” assures that, in most cases, the web site can immediately scale to meet increased demand at a nominal incremental cost. And, that in the case of a regional disaster, given that the web site will be hosted in “The Cloud”, in a data center outside the local area, communication to and access by customers or the general public should continue without issue.