Cogworks CEO & Co-founder Adam Shallcross explains the business benefits of migrating to cloud hosting.
We’ve helped a number of organisations migrate their web hosting infrastructure to “the Cloud” over the past few years. There are a number of benefits for ditching traditional “own server in a rack” at an external host or even (heaven forbid) the “own server in a rack in your office basement” options, so I thought I’d note a few of them down to help you make that leap!
Firstly, what is Cloud hosting?
Cloud hosting or cloud computing refers to a network of distributed computer services that are available over the internet, and it generally falls into three major categories including:
- Platform as a Service (PaaS).
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
- Software as a Service (SaaS).
Our primary focus as a company is web design and build, so we work mainly in the Platform as a Service (PaaS) space. According to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, PaaS is “a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app”.
What this means in English is that it allows us to host websites without the need to manually configure and maintain the infrastructure, the operating system, the servers, security patches, and upgrades. It’s like traditional managed hosting on steroids!
Some of the main players you will probably have heard of are Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google, amongst others. Our preferred platform is Microsoft Azure, mainly because we have always been an ASP.NET specialist and Umbraco is a .NET application, so Azure is an ideal fit for the majority of organisations we work with.
So what are the benefits? Well I’m glad you asked…
1. Reduced costs
The majority of clients we’ve migrated to “the Cloud” have seen fairly significant cost reductions, mainly because when you shift to cloud hosting, you will only pay for the resources you actually use.
With traditional hosting environments you typically had to rent or buy a server with a fixed sized processor, RAM, and disk space. So to ensure the website performed well, you’d usually have to overestimate what you needed, and it was pretty much fixed for the lifetime of the contract. This meant you ended up paying for huge servers with resources that were hardly used.
Cloud hosting allows you to increase and decrease the resources you have allocated at the touch of a button, meaning you only pay for what you actually use – you have infinite control.
A typical hosting architecture consists of at least one webserver, two if you need it to be load balanced, one DB server, a CDN if you want to be super performant, a dedicated firewall and, if you have a staging environments, you need all of this X2 (or more if you have UAT as well!).
With traditional hosts, you had to order all this up-front, wait for the host to set it all up, then configure it for your own specific needs. Once set up it was basically fixed for the duration of the contract.
Cloud hosting provides much greater flexibility. You can fire-up new environments at the click of a button and turn off redundant environments when they are not used so, for example, if your UAT environment is only used on a Tuesday between 09:30 and 14:30, then turn it off at all other times.
3. Scalabillity and performance
With cloud hosting you can increase and decrease the power and capacity of the infrastructure really easily, so if you know you have a big campaign launch and are expecting a spike in traffic, you can boost the processor and RAM the day before to ensure it can handle the increased traffic, and then drop it back down when the campaign is over.
Don’t want to have to remember to do this manually? Then why not set thresholds to do this automatically for you. You could, for example, monitor the processor or RAM usage, and if it reaches 80 per cent, then automatically increase the size or even add another load-balanced machine to ensure your site never suffers from lack of resources.
4. No need for a back up plan
Cloud hosting environments have redundancy built in by default. There is no need to implement expensive and complex backup and disaster recovery plans. Long gone are the days where you had to take tapes offsite every day/week/month.
5. No System Admin needed
With no need to constantly monitor and install operating patches and upgrades, there is no need for the traditional Sys Admin role. Platforms like Azure manage all the updates for you so you don’t need to care about the OS. In fact, there is no way you can install any updates when using Web Apps – you can’t remote desktop to them anyway!
Everything is managed by Azure for you. You just need to power up the instance and push your code – job done!
6. A huge range of other services
All the major platforms have a huge number of other services available to use aside from the traditional web hosting tools such as AI, machine learning, ChatBots, and many, many more, as you can see on the Azure services pages.
Utilising the processing power of the entire platform allows companies to do things in minutes and for pennies that would, in the past, have cost thousands of pounds and taken months to build.
So, why migrate to the cloud?
In summary, companies can improve the flexibility, scalability, and power of their web hosting whilst potentially reducing costs by migrating their website to the cloud.
If you’re thinking about migrating or have this on your roadmap, then please do get in touch with us. We’d be happy to chat with you about options and our previous experience.