For the past five years, the Web hosting market has been evolving toward on-demand infrastructure provisioned on a flexible, pay-as-you-go basis. Never used to be this way before. The introduction of cloud computing offerings has radically accelerated innovation in the hosting market.
First some definitions you’ll need. Often times, these new services have the following anacronym
associated with them:
SaaS – software as a service
IaaS – infrastructure as a service
CaaS – compute as a service
PaaS – platform as a service
Cloud hosting can be seen in the following ways:
Self-managed IaaS, for cost-effective agile replacement of traditional data center infrastructure.
Lightly managed IaaS, for customers who wish to primarily self-manage but want the provider to be responsible for routine operations tasks.
Complex managed hosting, for customers who want to outsource operational responsibility for the infrastructure underlying Web content and applications.
The market for traditional Web hosting is very mature. Most Web hosters have very high levels of operational reliability and excellent support, and the best providers also have the ability to manage complex projects and proactively meet the customer’s needs. By contrast, the market for cloud IaaS is highly immature. While cloud IaaS reliability is still good, it is generally engineered to higher levels of availability than traditional dedicated hosting. Service and support definitely varies from provider and web services that are looking for a provider have lots to sort out and consider, among them: SLA’s, quick deployment vs. not, back-up and large scale hosting ( more than 75 servers) , application support, location of the hosting (although this more for overseas clients), network availability, management capabilities including (but not limited to) ; infrastructure software, database servers, web servers, storage and back-up, security, testing and professional services.
Years ago (and not that long) there really wasn’t a place to put your server except in a colo facility or managed services facility. If you were in colo, you purchased an application platform for several million dollars (got about 20 discs sent to you – I always found this part quite amusing) and sent your IT guy trotting off to the colo to insert each of these discs and download any recent patches to upgrade what he (the co.) bought. If all went well, the new service was up and running within a week or less. If all didn’t go well, he’d be on the phone with the software company for HOURS trying to figure out what didn’t go right. I was at many a company that did this – what a nightmare. And, its still done like I’ve described even today.
With Saas/Iaas, sometimes configuration and deployment of your environment is as easy as a well done GUI (graphic user interface) for the client and once that’s been decided along with the associated cost, he hits the ‘submit’ or really the ‘deployment’ button and within a relatively short time, his environment is up and running. Patches, upgrades, security, all buttoned down and done and all monitored 24/7. The SLA’s today (with the exception of Amazon’s EC2) are mostly 100% uptime guaranteed, so for the most part your environment is quite stable.
If I had a new company today doing e-commerce or dependent on applications or even general uptime and a web server, I’d outsource the whole issue. The cloud environment has gotten to be too good and secure to instead go out and purchase my own equipment (which is outdated in 6 months to a year) and hire a bunch of IT guys (no offense guys). It just makes no economic or reasonable sense.
The newer cloud players are:
But there are many other main players as well. Among them;
Choose your partner wisely and do NOT sign long term contracts – technology changes so rapidly as does new players sometimes its hard to lock yourself into a long term deal. Unless of course you get a good enough financial incentive to do so. 😉