Why You Should Host Your App in the Cloud
Customers in 2022 care about 2 things. Speed and security. If you are a business owner or IT admin that administers your business’ application, you are either hosting in the cloud, or aware of the cloud but choose to continue hosting your app on-premises. And if you are hosting on-premises, you are ignoring serious advantages to the cloud that will make operations more efficient, while providing enhanced speed and security for your app.
Cloud is changing the way that businesses not only host their application, but also develop applications moving forward. It’s impossible to ignore, and most businesses should embrace cloud hosting. Here’s the reasons why, along with a few caveats.
What is the Cloud?
If you aren’t familiar with the cloud, you can think of it as someone else’s computer that always remains on, reliably and security connecting your users with your web application. The cloud is composed of either a single server or a network of servers hosted in a data center. The server hosts your application and processes requests for users to access it. If the request is genuine, the cloud will ensure that a reliable connection is established between the server and your users’ end-point which allows the user to interact with your application live.
But this is only the explanation for legacy cloud. Cloud has evolved to become not only a server to host applications on, but also an entire development platform. Technologies like load balancing, containers, CDNs, etc have all been developed to increase security, make resources usage more efficient, cut development and maintenance hours, and speed up connectivity. Cloud has become so advanced that many organizations now develop exclusively within the cloud.
Cloud’s Major Advantages
There’s numerous advantages the cloud has over an on-premises setup, especially for developers, but here’s a highlight of the advantages that would appeal to a business owner or leader:
A Team of Experts
Have you ever dealt with losing the one person you knew that could fix an IT issue? If you haven’t at some point you will… and its not fun.
Rather than be forced to maintain a rolodex of IT admins that you can contact in case of an issue, or maintain a (highly paid) employee on staff at all times, any cloud provider will have a team of experts maintaining your infrastructure. The level of support varies. Hyperscalers for instance will not go past the infrastructure level and will work in silence in the background, but a smaller cloud provider like ZebraHost will support up to the OS level and try to understand your application at a deeper level and provide support where possible.
The result is that you can ensure someone is always watching the stack and performing maintenance. You will also save a ton on labor and consulting fees.
If your application experiences regular downtime, it will be devastating for your business. You must ensure that users have a stable connection to your app at all times. The original mission of the cloud is to address this very need.
You can expect >99% uptime for any application hosted in the cloud, provided it is coded correctly.
The cloud is all about providing redundancy, meaning that if there is a failure in the network or infrastructure, there is a backup to fall back on. Cloud providers use high availability stacks which ensure that if there is a hardware failure, your application will run on the next server in line. For internet, data centers use multiple carriers so that if one is having trouble, the data center can switch to another. Finally, cloud providers are excellent about maintaining backups and ensuring that should something go wrong with your application it is possible to rewind.
When it comes to internet connectivity, a data center will be able to reach speeds far greater than an office will. Data centers use high-bandwidth, mostly fiber-optic, internet cables and receive the fastest speeds from internet carriers. Because of this, data centers can now reach up to 10GB bandwidth. Your typically office will have 100 MB to 1 GB. This means your application will potentially operate faster for your users.
Data centers and cloud providers also have access to multiple internet vendors which they can fall back on based on connectivity speed, downtime, bandwidth usage etc.
When it comes to geography, a data center can also be located close to your users. This way it doesn’t matter where your business itself is located. For example, if you have users in Canada, you can easily find a data center in Canada or a cloud provider that has a presence in that region. This reduces latency and enhances connectivity for your users.
No Hardware Purchases
If you run your application in the cloud, regular hardware refreshes for your stack will be a thing of the past. Most businesses are not prepared for how expensive it is to replace an entire stack and would be better off paying a consistent cloud fee.
Cloud providers handle most of the messy networking for you. Your job is mostly reduced to deciding which ports to keep open.
This is in contrast to an on-premises setup where you must make sure your application is accessible to the public while also being secure. This is tricky and one of the most stressful components to maintaining an application and hardware stack.
Though there are many advantages to hosting your application in the cloud, there are also a few disadvantages you should be aware of. Here’s the main ones on the mind of most business leaders.
If someone else is maintaining your infrastructure, you have very little control over security underneath the OS level. This means you simply have to trust that the security experts at your cloud provider can maintain a secure environment.
A good way to handle trust, is to check out what security certifications the data center holds. For example, Zebrahost’s data center has over 11 of the most important certifications such as HI-TRUST, PCI, HIPAA, and SOC. THis means the data center has passed rigorous inspections and holds itself to high security standards.
Breaches have happened in the at major cloud providers in the past. We recommend researching the cloud provider you are considering and seeing how they handle security and if there have been incidents in the past. You can also schedule a call with a sales engineer who can address your concerns in depth.
While in all likelihood your costs will be less than the total sum of hosting an application on premises when salary, hardware, and downtime are accounted for, the fees associated with cloud cause sticker shock for many business owners.
To control costs, we recommend shopping around different providers to make sure you get the specs and technologies you need. Prices between providers can vary drastically.
We also recommend that you maintain and eye on your billing and resource usage to make sure you are only paying for what you need. Cloud providers that intuitively scale resources such as hyperscalers can often cost more than they need to. If you optimize your app and watch your resources you can keep these costs in check.
Can be Complex (especially for hyperscalers)
Depending on the cloud provider you choose, you will be greeted with complex menus and configuration names. For example, a VPS at AWS is known as EC2 and AWS has hundreds of different tools and options available on their platform. If you do not have experience working in cloud environments, and more specifically with a specific cloud provider, it can seem complex at first.
You can try playing around with configurations or asking forums what your best options are. It is easier once you get used to naming schemes and understand the most popular services.
There are also many cloud providers like ZebraHost that offer streamlined VPS and dedicated cloud solutions for those looking for naming conventions and specs akin to an on-premises setup.
Cloud Alleviates Concerns
With all these different pros and cons to cloud, you might still be asking yourself why so many businesses are utilizing the cloud. The main reason that all these advantages condense to is that the cloud alleviate concerns and frustrations. ƒ
When you choose to host your app in a cloud environment you know that a team is working in the background to make sure the hardware and software stack is running smoothly and efficiently. Most maintenance and monitoring is happening automatically in the background. All you need to focus on is making sure your application is secure at the OS and application levels.
Some advice, if you do choose to host your app in the cloud, remain vigilant of costs and security. Although cloud simplifies work on your end, it does not give you a license to be lazy with your application or security. Make sure you are paying attention to your billing, resource use, security, and network traffic. Keep your app up to date and maintained so if continues to run optimally.
Consider a Hybrid Approach
A final note to consider is if you have an application that requires that some data be stored on premises, consider a hybrid approach. This way, your sensitive data stays on your hardware while less sensitive portions, like a front-end for example will be delivered quickly to your end users.
There are serious advantages to hosting your application in the cloud. And for the most part, the advantages far outweigh the cons.
Cloud has matured to the point where applications are now being natively developed for the cloud. Technologies like containers have streamlined maintenance and reduced resources use (and thus expense).
Although the cloud is a fit for most businesses, its important to make sure its a fit for yours. Look at your current application and infrastructure and decide for yourself if it is better to continue running your app on-premises or if you are a good candidate to switch to the cloud.