Cloud Computing Q & A

Image Cloud Computing Q & A
You have probably heard of The Cloud, but what exactly is The Cloud? This term gets thrown around so much that its meaning is a little... well, cloudy. We wrote this Q and A to help clear things up.

What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing utilizes a network of servers to provide resources, software, and information on demand. In traditional computing, data is stored on a single server or a set of local servers, but with cloud computing data is stored across many servers that could be located in data centers around the world. This network of servers is referred to as The Cloud.

Why use cloud computing?
The two main advantages to cloud computing are scalability and pricing. With cloud computing you only pay for the computing power you need, much like paying for electricity. So, if your website were to receive tons of traffic and you have a cloud network enabled, you could accommodate this traffic increase by allocating more space for your site on your network of cloud servers (scalability). This pricing model ends up costing less because you are only paying for what you need. If your site is stored on a single server you need to purchase more space than your site typically uses in order to handle spikes in traffic. However, you do need to consider the expertise to run a cloud environment and the potential set up costs of your cloud infrastructure. Depending on your computing needs, these costs could be significant.

Is cloud computing reliable?
Cloud computing is very reliable. Companies that provide cloud services, like Amazon and Rackspace, have the expertise and resources to provide and maintain a top-notch system. However, this does not mean that cloud service providers are immune from outages. Though rare, Amazon has suffered some major outages over the last few years. When this occurs there is nothing you can do until your cloud service provider has fixed the problem.

Is it secure?
With a more complex system of servers comes unique security challenges. That doesn’t mean the cloud is insecure. However, your data is potentially stored in a range of locations and the job of securing that data can be more complex. New security technologies are rapidly being developed and deployed.

Does HEROweb/MightyMerchant use the cloud?
HEROweb’s production servers are traditional dedicated servers. HEROweb currently uses Amazon S3 (a cloud computing service) to serve large media files such as images and video. As cloud technologies advance, HEROweb continues to look for opportunities to utilize these technologies for delivering affordable and effective services.

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