A cloud hosting platform offers many benefits. These are often reduced to four main categories, Cost, Stability, Security, and Scalability. You can read about these categories in more detail in a previous blog post…
For large websites arguably the two most important benefits are scalability and cost, and in a cloud environment they are closely linked. The nature of a cloud platform allows resources to be allocated and removed as a sites demand scales, which is reflected in the expenditure required from the business as quantities of resources are consumed. As resource use drops the hosting expenditure required follows suit, offering scalability from performance to billing.
Any website considered “large” being developed and launched will already have a considerable audience in place, due to other forms of media promotion such as printed advertisements employed by the company. This present audience will often lead to high traffic and demand after the launch with a slow reduction in traffic until the traffic becomes consistent. The nature of the site will also have an impact on traffic, with a news update or forum post generating traffic spikes, and on a large site this is likely to be considerable.
The difficulty faced by system administrators planning a large company’s web site infrastructure, is providing resources required to handle these spikes and high initial traffic. The expenditure for a new hosting project is often high as servers must be acquired to give the infrastructure capacity to meet demand, and consultancy and setup costs also play a role in a high expenditure.
Problems occur when launch traffic levels decrease and a more consistent pattern of site visitors starts to emerge. Apart from content or externally influenced spikes, large capacity has been purchased and is not being fully utilised but must still be maintained to cope with spikes, resulting in an inefficient infrastructure expenditure during periods of standard traffic. For any business to be successful, ongoing wasted infrastructure expenditure should be addressed and avoided. This is where the benefits of a cloud platform are most applicable.
A cloud platform allows users to avoid the high expenditure required to build an infrastructure from scratch by renting a portion of the platform from the provider. This reduces the initial high expenditure required and the staffing costs for providing the service. However, the greatest benefit for a large web site in the cloud is the utility computing model offered by cloud hosting providers.
The utility model allows resources to be provided as a service, and for clients to pay for only the resources they use (commonly on top of a small initial base package). This model instantly removes the issue of over provisioning, provided the cloud providers infrastructure is correctly configured and has extra capacity to meet the rise (and fall) in a sites traffic. Any resources for meeting traffic spikes are rented temporarily so as traffic decreases again the hosting expenditure reduces proportionally. The capital expenditure required for hardware, software and engineering services is massively reduced, with a smaller upfront payment required, improving a companies cash flow.
Aside from cost, performance for a sites users will be consistent with a cloud provider managing their capacity. For a company managing their own hosting, as a site nears capacity performance will decrease until capacity is increased, incurring more costs! In a cloud system, a large web site will benefit from seamless capacity and performance increases as more nodes are added to the cloud platform requiring no engineering from the customer or extra expenditure (apart from usage). This instant capacity scaling allows a cloud platform to meet traffic demands with no negative impact on performance, improving the user experience on the website.
Clearly a strong motivation for moving to a cloud platform for a business will be the massively reduced costs of infrastructure and management, as well as the scalable nature of the utility billing ensuring hosting expenditure is efficient for the business model. It is important for site performance to be considered as a large benefit also, a cloud platforms scalability provides consistent performance under any load.
If you’re thinking of moving to a Cloud hosting provider, have a look at the Cloud Provider Check List before making your decision!