With a plethora of cloud hosting services available to the market it is becoming more difficult to find a provider that suits your specific needs.
I decided to put together a list of questions to help you analyse exactly the service a cloud provider can offer you, to help your move to a cloud platform go as smoothly as possible.
Which languages does their platform support?
This may seem like an obvious one, but dig a little deeper. You need to know if your app will run on a providers system, and in some cases even when a platform claims to run any php application for example, certain configurations, such as database, may prevent this from being the case.
Ask your provider for specific app compatibility before you sign up, and if they are unsure ask them to install the app to test it for you.
What access options do they offer?
This is particularly important for developers. Every cloud host will offer you FTP access, as there are few better ways for transferring your website files to their platform, however additional access options like SSH may be important for your application and team, so it’s well worth checking this in advance, as not all cloud providers allow ssh access.
- Do they support version control?
Following on from access options, it is important to ensure that a potential cloud provider supports version control systems, especially if you plan on hosting large projects. Systems such as Git, Subversion, and Mercurial allow developers to revise versions before making them live, and restore to previous versions in the case of a failure, certainly valuable features to be supported, especially for large critical projects.
Where is their data centre located?
It is important to know exactly where your website will be hosted as this will effect the performance for international users. When considering location it is also important to investigate the cloud providers connectivity so any geographic factors can be balanced by high speed back haul, peering and connections to internet exchanges.
Having said this, if a cloud provider has multiple data centre locations and allows you to specify your location, or host in multiple locations, this is less of an issue.
Does their billing system suit the cloud platform?
Cloud hosting supports a utility model that allows billing for consumed resources to occur. This is a large benefit to using a cloud platform, as I wrote about in How do large website benefit from Cloud provisioning? and Benefits of Cloud Hosting.
If the potential provider is not offering a pay for resources billing system and is only offering packages, they are not allowing you to benefit from the utility model of a cloud platform and it may be worth looking elsewhere for a company who can fully utilise, and provide, the key benefits of a cloud platform.
Do they offer a backup service?
Providing backups is not a vital feature for choosing a cloud provider and of course, it depends on your requirements. However, when using applications like WordPress that store data for blog posts in a database, a hosting provider backup service can be the simplest solution for protecting your web sites content.
Plenty of hosts offer free or competitively priced backup services, so if backups are important for your project and you dont want to manage them yourself, there’s no need to pay huge amounts for the added extra.
What levels of support are available with a hosting package?
Support is always an important issue when choosing a web host, especially when moving from one host to another. Numerous small configuration settings that are incompatible between platforms can be a nightmare to sort out without a capable support rep to ease the process.
Having said that, it’s worth doing a bit of research into public opinion about a cloud providers support record, just to to avoid any nightmares that are all to frequently reported online. Even if you don’t think you’ll need support, it is reassuring to know a good service is available for a new, possibly unfamiliar platform, especially if it’s included in the price.
How easily does their platform scale?
One of the main motivations for moving to a cloud platform has to be the possible scalability. You can have a read about cloud scalability in my previous article Large web sites can benefit from Cloud provisiong. If scalability is indeed your reason for moving to cloud, you’re going to want to scale your project easily with minimal or ideally no configuration.
This is a reasonably technical question to ask a potential cloud provider but is well worth investigating to avoid continuous adjustments to your service to cope with spikes, or reduce resources to save money during quiet periods. Ideally you want a platform that scales instantly without any interaction from you or your engineers.
If scalability is not an issue for you, then perhaps a cloud provider is not applicable for your project…
Is their database hosting powerful enough for your app?
Web development is evolving and applications requiring databases are becoming more and more common. The availability and quality of a database is high on any developers list and should be thoroughly investigated before signing up to a cloud provider. As well as the standard database service offered, it is worth taking note of any “add on” database services.
This style of cloud custom package building is offered by the more developer oriented cloud providers and should be understood before purchasing cloud hosting.
If you can think of any more that aren’t included comment away and I’ll add the best ones!