Up in the Cloud…

Posted on June 28, 2011 by

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This week we have been discussing the difference between using traditional web hosting services versus a cloud computing hosting solution for our new PicClash website.

Since ‘The Cloud’ is one of the biggest buzz words in the tech space right now we thought we would answer some basic questions about the cloud and our hosting decision (in plain English).

What is “The Cloud”?

Cloud computing refers to the use and access of multiple server-based computer resources via a digital network. Basically you can use software without downloading it to your own computer and/or hardware without physically purchasing it.

 Why we think the cloud is cool?

It reduces some of the risk of launching your new venture as you:

  •  No-longer need to invest in costly IT infrastructure (and in many cases software).
  • Can convert fixed costs to variable costs
  • Scale up and down easily.

How is PicClash using the Cloud?

Here at PicClash we love the cloud! We are currently using many different cloud based resources, these include: development tools (such as software version control via BitBucket), web hosting and the obvious email, google docs etc.

What is the difference between web hosting and cloud computing service (IaaS)?

Web hosting gives you access to a shared web server (Apache, IIS, nginx, etc….).  You are basically given access to a folder where you upload your website files and deploy your site.

Pros:

  • Easy to deploy with limited IT knowledge.
  • Easy to understand pricing (and often they offer unlimited packages).
  • Cheap (as low as $3.95 per month).
  • Most of the security aspects are managed by the hosting company

Cons:

  • Risk of outages and slowdowns during peak times.
  • Limited ability to configure your site.
  • Limited ability to run services outside of the web server
  • No ability to manage what version of software you are running (Apache, PHP, Java, etc..)

Vendor Options: Loads, some recommended ones are: GoDaddy, HostMonster, HostGator, DreamHost.

Cloud computing (IaaS) solutions gives you access to a virtual machine/server that you can configure based on your specific requirements. You are typically billed based on usage therefore you only pay for what you need.

 Pros:

  • Access to servers that are much more expensive to buy or rent.
  • Ability to fully configure the server-based on your needs.
  • Load balancing (meaning that traffic will be re-routed from one server to another in the event of server downtime or increased traffic).
  • Only pay for what you need

Cons:

  •  Extensive IT knowledge is required to easily deploy sites in the cloud.
  • Pricing can be more expensive than what you first thought (as you may use it more than expected),

Vendor Options: Amazon, RackSpace, GoGrid

The Verdict….

If you are looking for flexibility when it comes to setting up your website’s server or you expect large amounts of traffic to your site – cloud computing is the way to go. Web hosting is more suitable for static websites that don’t expect a lot of traffic.

Who will host the PicClash website?

We have decided to go with the cloud computing option using Amazon EC2. This was largely due to our needs to configure our web servers in a specific way and the need to run in memory cache services to accelerate our site performance and scale to support traffic spikes.

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