What is cloud hosting and what does it mean for small businesses?

In part two of four we define cloud hosting and how a growing business can deploy it

The term cloud remains a source of confusion for many. And cloud hosting is a concept many business owners are keen to get to grips with if it means saving money and increasing scalability and reliability.

Essentially, rather than owning a physical product, cloud refers to the virtual provision of infrastructure or services. In the case of cloud hosting, providers own, run and maintain enormously powerful servers that businesses pay to access, either to store data or operate their websites. One of the biggest advantages is that the capacity can expand or contract according to a company’s needs.

In addition, a raft of software as a service (SaaS) companies have emerged to offer online services that replace the need to purchase and run software on internal servers. Cloud hosting and cloud computing services are typically (excluding free SaaS services) paid for and supplied on a metered or subscription basis as opposed to a capital expenditure outlay on hardware, so have an immediate impact on your investment budgeting and monthly accounting.

The two main cloud hosting options are dedicated hosting or a shared web hosting service. The former typically describes the lease of a server which is entirely dedicated to your business, although stored in an external data centre. The latter describes the sharing of server capacity between large numbers of users, which can be used by anyone.

The views in this article were expressed at a lunch sponsored by Zunicore, the business-built cloud hosting provider owned by PEER 1

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