Is the Cloud the Right Option for You?

Choosing the right hosting environment for your website is important for the success of your project as well as for your TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). The cloud has been a recently growing trend for hosting websites. But is it the right choice for everybody? Let’s take a look at what options you have and their pros and cons.
First, it’s important to say that there’s not just one cloud. In fact, Kentico offers following types of cloud services:

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

With the IaaS model, you don’t have to worry about infrastructure, such as hardware or networks. You do still need to have a system administrator who manages the operating system and ensures it’s updated and well secured.
The advantage of IaaS is that it’s very similar to having your own server and you have full control over the operating system settings, so you can host most CMS products without code modifications.
Example: Running Kentico in the Amazon EC2 cloud.

PaaS – Platform as a Service

PaaS goes one step further and allows you to run a CMS without looking after the operating system. In the PaaS environment, the provider looks after your environment and you take care of the CMS application. The limitation here is that the CMS must support the given PaaS environment.
Example: Running Kentico in Microsoft Azure.

Hybrid Scenarios

When planning your CMS deployment architecture, don’t forget to consider hybrid scenarios that combine on-premise and cloud.
A good example of such a scenario is running your staging server on premise, behind a firewall, and synchronizing the changes to the cloud. This option brings extra security (as you can disable editing on live servers) and it provides a better experience for your content administrators (as they work on the local server and can preview all changes before publishing).
Another hybrid scenario is running your website on premise or in a common datacenter and storing your media files in the cloud. This option makes sense when you have lots of photos or videos and you need them to be served to the visitor fast, possibly in combination with a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Leveraging Other Cloud Services

Some cloud providers go far beyond hosting websites and offer additional related services you may benefit from, such as:
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) allows you to deliver static files, such as JavaScript, images, video or large PDF files faster as it caches the content on servers that are geographically closer to the visitors.
  • E-mail Deliverability is a smarter alternative to SMTP servers for sending e-mails. It decreases the risk that your e-mail is blocked by ISPs and anti-spam software as possible SPAM.
  • Video Streaming services provide a smoother experience for your visitors viewing video on your website.

Be Aware of Cloud Myths

Some people expect that the cloud will magically solve all their problems. Here are some of the most common myths:
  • “The cloud will automatically ensure unlimited performance for my website.” – It’s important to understand that the cloud is no more than a large number of servers that you can add at any time. But if your website isn’t scalable, the cloud won’t help.
  • “Once I use cloud services, my website will be fast everywhere in the world.” – While services like CDN may shorten page load time across the world, your website will most likely still run in a single datacenter. If you want your website to be truly geo-redundant, you still need to ensure its synchronization (e.g. by using the staging functionality) across multiple data centers.
  • “The cloud is always on.” – While there has long been a promise of robust cloud infrastructure that never fails, there have been numerous cases when major cloud services went down for many hours. If your website is mission critical, you should think about not only using multiple cloud instances with load balancing, but also of running it in multiple datacenters with some kind of synchronization or having a failover server with an up-to-date copy of data.

5 Reasons to Choose the Cloud

  1. Cloud providers often offer best prices for hosting your website as they benefit from economy of scale.
  2. No initial investment into hardware – start with small monthly fees. 
  3. You can add more servers when your website gets lots of traffic and pay only for what you actually need.
  4. Using the PaaS model allows you to eliminate your ongoing maintenance costs.
  5. You can benefit from a high level of stability and redundancy that is expensive to achieve in an on-premise environment.

When the Cloud Is Not an Option

Although the cloud brings many benefits, there are also certain situations in which you may need to use on-premise hosting in your data center:
  • Proximity to your existing systems – if your website relies on integration with existing back-end systems such as an ERP and you need very fast communication between your website and such systems, it may be necessary to run them in the same data center.
  • Advanced security requirements – some organizations have strict requirements on where their data can be placed and how they need to be protected that may be beyond what some cloud providers can offer.
  • Specific configuration requirements – while cloud environments tend to be highly flexible, they’re built for the majority of users. If you need to implement very specific network architecture, it may not be supported in the cloud.
  • Privacy laws – some countries may not allow storing personal data outside the country.

Your Cloud Options with Kentico

Kentico supports pretty much any hosting environment you can think of, provided they meet the minimum system requirements:
  • IaaS – e.g. Amazon EC2 or Rackspace Cloud
  • PaaS – Microsoft Azure or Microsoft Azure Web Sites
  • Hybrid – you can combine on-premise hosting and cloud as described above, including staging server and synchronization to multiple geo-redudant servers
  • CDN – you can use cloud file hosting with various CDN services, such as Amazon Cloudfront or the Microsoft Azure CDN service
  • On-premise – you can run Kentico on your own server, as well as on a rented server or Virtual Private Server in a remote data center
  • Shared hosting – often the most affordable option suitable for smaller websites
Whether you choose cloud or on-premise hosting, Kentico supports virtually any scenario you can think of. Moreover, Kentico uses the same code for on-premise as for cloud deployments which means you can switch hosting models at any time.
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