The advantages of cloud computing are abundantly clear. Especially for smaller businesses, hosting applications in the cloud offers greater cost savings, better efficiency, stronger security, and a host of other critical benefits. It allows businesses to host their enterprise systems without the need to hire IT staff, buy hardware or build a datacenter.
Many leading ERP, CRM, WHM and other systems are now being offered by vendors with the choice of either on-premises or as a cloud-based service. But there are a few perceived disadvantages which have made many businesses reluctant to switch, preferring instead to keep their solutions on-premises.
One of the most important issues has been the resiliency and reliability of cloud-hosted systems. For many industries – such as Retail, Logistics and Manufacturing – unexpected downtime can be very undesirable.
Much of the cloud’s poor reputation has come from the web hosting and online backup industries.
Many low-end backup providers will cut corners in order to offer more competitive prices. This often means placing limitations on what kind of data can be backed up, limitations on security, penalties for heavy users and even bandwidth throttling.
And within the web hosting space, we see many unlimited plans which aren’t unlimited at all. Instead, they cut off your storage after 4GB of space usage and cut off your account if you get more than 1000 visitors per day. These web hosts also offer extremely limited memory for running database scripts and PHP applications. But the worst complaint about shared web hosting has to do with the “bad neighbour effect”, where your site is brought down because another account on the same server had a spike in traffic or began using more than its fair share of resources.
Having a web site go down is bad enough. But when your critical business systems fail, the consequences can be significantly worse for most businesses.
The cloud has had a reputation of unreliability and instability within recent years, and much of this can be attributed to Amazon. The value offered by Amazon’s cloud services has made it a highly-scalable, cost-effective platform for shoestring entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups.
And many of the companies which have built themselves on the Amazon platform are also SaaS solutions which serve as critical business systems for many smaller and medium-sized companies.
On October 22 2012, Amazon suffered a major outage which affected many of the Internet’s top web properties, including (reportedly) Minecraft, Netflix, Imgur, Reddit, and Minecraft. These sites were made unavailable for several hours.
According to DataCenterKnowledge, this outage was the fifth one in only 18 months… and that Amazon also experienced 4 outages within the space of one week during 2010.
The message is clear for businesses: If you’re going to host to critical applications the cloud, don’t cut corners. Do your homework, be vigilant, make sure you have the best, and ensure that your host’s services are backed up by solid SLAs. If you require high availability, make sure you have a process in place which will back you up of your cloud option fails.
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