A 2013 report by Parallels showed that 22 percent of small to mid-sized businesses use cloud-based services and infrastructure tools to manage their business. As a result, it’s more important than ever that web hosting and web development companies be aware of how to integrate the functionality of the cloud into their designs. As companies rely more on the cloud, the distinction between web hosting and cloud services will become less obvious.
Storage Options and Scalability
Web hosting companies are most often concerned with traffic and throughput capability. Moving a large number of people through a website is the goal. Not much thought is typically put into data storage at the web hosting level. Prior to the emergence of the cloud as an option for data storage, files were expected to be stored on local devices. But the cloud has changed that; for example, image-based websites can now store massive amounts of files in the cloud easily.
With many cloud-storage plans, capacity is dynamically allocated with the additional fees applied. A marketing campaign where customers are asked to upload photos of their families using a particular product might cause the cloud storage to increase dramatically. The web hosting service may also need to adjust for comparable traffic increases over the life of the marketing effort.
Web hosts typically provide a way to back-up the web site’s files. However, they don’t address data backup unless the information is stored in an online database, which is part of the infrastructure, such as the MySQL databases that contain WordPress blog posts. Businesses that use cloud services to store data have additional backup needs. Like some web hosting vendors, cloud service providers often have automated backup procedures that a business can configure and schedule. If not, numerous third-party cloud backup services are available online, such as Carbonite and Mozy.
The future model of web hosting could see consolidated backup procedures that backup company information wherever it’s located. The backup of the web site system files can also be made to go to a business’ preferred cloud storage service. This integration of web hosting and cloud services makes it transparent to the customer, which is what they prefer.
There’s the potential of having data on the web host, in the cloud and on various mobile devices where it all needs to stay in sync. Many cloud storage services have mobile apps to keep smartphones and tablets in sync with data stored in the cloud. Web designers have access to utilities, such as the Dropbox Datastore API, to keep the data flowing through websites in sync with the cloud. Future Insights suggests that these APIs will be key to integrating web hosting, web design and cloud-storage.
Web hosting will need to come up with cloud-like features to stay competitive because of the ease with which people will be able to move web sites from one host to another. For example, a website with a large amount of content can reference that content in the cloud. This enables the actual site infrastructure to be moved anywhere without disrupting the functionality of the website. As a result, unhappy customers could easily move their site to another host. This means website hosting companies need to step up their game and provide a top-notch user experience.
Cloud storage and applications are still evolving, and cloud-based web hosting is evolving to meet the demands of business. By providing the combined services of web hosting traffic management and dynamic cloud-storage, the online business gets the best from both worlds without having to compromise on features or performance.