One of the basic questions you need to answer when working on a startup is where the project will live—what infrastructure will you use to serve your application and store your project data?
Until 2007, the most common solution was to buy a server (or a server cluster, depending on the size of the project) with enough capacity to handle the anticipated web traffic and data. This got the job done, but the solution created several new challenges of its own:
-Budgeting for high-priced equipment and backup systems
-Diverting funds and manpower for server maintenance and upgrades
-Resolving conflicts between applications and the server hardware and operating system
Fortunately, there’s now an alternative which can eliminate the problems associated with owned servers, reduce implementation time, and dramatically cut startup costs: cloud computing. If you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s an analogy I like to use to explain the difference between owning your own hardware and cloud computing:
Owning hardware = Owning a car
When you own a car, you have to make your monthly payment no matter how many (or few) miles you drive. On top of that, you have to pay for gas, oil changes, wiper blades, car washes, parts and service, and everything else you need to keep the car running. The same goes for owning a server—you’re on the hook for absolutely everything, from hardware and upgrades to electricity.
Cloud computing = Taking a taxi
On the other hand, when you take advantage of cloud computing, it’s like taking a taxi—all you pay for is the mileage, which in this case is the amount of storage space used and data transmitted.
When you’re running a website, especially when you’re in the startup phase, you don’t have time or money to waste on expensive equipment and maintenance. You just want to get where you’re going as quickly as possible, which means you want a taxi—the cloud computing solution. And, if you suddenly need to take a lot of friends along for the ride, just get as many taxi's as you need without having to go through the hassle of buying enough cars to fit everyone.
Cloud computing has many applications, including mail management , sales management, and customer relationship management. Here, I’m going to talk a little more about one specific application: cloud hosting.
Pushing your hosting environment to the “clouds" eliminates the need to spend money on hardware and hardware support. It can also speed up your implementation, because you won’t have to spend time configuring your servers or adjusting your applications. The benefits don’t stop at implementation, though—once your project is up and running, cloud hosting offers another set of advantages:
Scalability: Cloud hosting lets you avoid the delays and expense involved in migrating applications which have outgrown their servers’ capacity. The resources available in the cloud—processing power, storage capacity, or memory—can be expanded at any time.
Resource distribution: With cloud hosting, you don't need to worry about hardware failures—the cloud will still serve your project even if one (or more than one) of your nodes goes down for maintenance.
Accessibility: As long as you have Internet access, the web interface allows you to manage your site from anywhere on the planet.
That's a quick overview of cloud hosting, but keep in mind that cloud computing can be used for almost everything, from the smallest projects to the biggest. No matter what you need, the taxi is always waiting, and you'll never have to pay for anything but the mileage.