Everything you need to know about hosting and cloud computing
Cloud computing has allowed many businesses to profit from its flexibility, power, and its relatively low cost of entry. It has been used by companies to outsource some or all of their IT applications and infrastructure since as early as the 1990’s, with Salesforce being the first major company to offer SaaS over the internet in 1999.
Today, companies can take advantage of a wide variety of software and infrastructure solutions, from the ability to use dedicated cloud based hardware, to ready-made shared solutions like Dropbox. Cloud computing is a model for the access of shared, remote computing resources via the network.
Cloud computing services are defined by several key characteristics:
They can be scaled up or down according to a user’s needs.
They are available on a wide variety of devices and in many locations (tablets, PCs, mobile devices, workstations)
They can be provisioned in real time without human interaction and provide a means to automatically optimise and report the use of bandwidth, storage, and other computing capabilities.
They can be deployed in the public cloud, meaning the infrastructure is open for use by the general public, or in hybrid private models, which provide access to private resources in addition to shared resources. 
Choosing a cloud computing model.
Cloud computing comprises several service models. SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS all offer relative benefits and drawbacks. Decide which is right for your company by using the information below.
SaaS, or software as a service, is a means of distributing applications to users via a subscription model. It essentially provides on demand software to companies through the cloud. This model can be extremely beneficial for companies that require a centralised database that many users can access. It also often provides increased flexibility, improved performance, and reduced costs.
Some common SaaS applications include:
• Customer Relationship Management
• Email Client
• Word Processing
• CAD Software
• Human Resources Management
Platform as a service, or PaaS, offers a remote computing platform and solution stack to companies. This provides increased power over SaaS models without the need to buy, manage, or maintain the underlying infrastructure. In PaaS, the user develops their own applications with tools and libraries offered by the provider. This makes it useful for companies that need to create and deploy
custom applications, but don’t have the manpower or need for full infrastructure control.
• Application Design & Development
• Custom Application Deployment
• Web Service Integration
• Database Integration
• Remote Storage
Infrastructure as a service is the most powerful and flexible of the cloud computing models. It provides physical computers or virtual machines to users, allowing them to install operating systems and applications as needed. This means that the potential uses for the services are practically limitless.
Although IaaS gives users the greatest flexibility in developing and deploying their own applications, it also requires additional effort and expertise to operate so should only be used if your company’s needs can’t be met by an SaaS or PaaS solution.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
Cloud computing is widely used by businesses ranging from international corporations to local companies. The reasons for this popularity are numerous. Cloud computing offers many benefits, including reduced cost, increased company focus, flexibility, and greater reliability. Below you’ll find some of the top reasons your company should consider moving to the cloud.
Cloud computing is usually more reliable.
Downtime can be extremely costly, particularly for companies that rely on IT infrastructure for critical business functions. The costs of downtime can range from $90,000 per hour for companies in the media sector to $6.48 Million per hour for large online brokerages. 
That’s why it’s so important for your company to find an IT solution that minimises downtime. One of the most appealing aspects of on-site solutions is that they put reliability entirely within your company’s control. Although this has the potential to provide more reliability than cloud solutions, in practice that is rarely the case.
Most cloud computing providers have a large staff of IT experts dedicated to ensuring a certain amount of uptime. Most providers also offer generous uptime guarantees. A cloud computing provider with a 99.95% uptime guarantee will have at most 21.6 minutes of downtime each month, whereas half of all fortune 500 companies experience at least 1.6 hours of downtime each week.  .
Cloud computing is often more cost effective.
In some cases, on-site computing may be more cost effective. This can be true for companies that already have existing IT infrastructure, are focused on IT, or need on-site solutions for other reasons. However, for most companies, cloud computing provides a more cost-effective solution.
Many companies are attracted to cloud computing because of its relatively low cost of entry. Servers can cost thousands of dollars and the environment controlled facilities they are housed in can be even more expensive. Cloud computing solutions require little to no upfront investment and may also be more cost-effective over the long term for many companies. On-site solutions require additional staff, maintenance, and recurring hardware replacement costs.
Because cloud solutions can offer economies of scale, they can often provide a lower price for similar service.
Cloud computing offers increased flexibility.
One of the greatest advantages of cloud computing is its ability to quickly scale with a company. As your business needs more resources or has to scale back, it can adjust cloud computing resources as necessary. This gives you the flexibility you need to quickly grow without tying resources down to applications that may not be necessary in the future. This is a major advantage over on-site solutions as they require significant investment to scale up without a means for quickly reducing that expenditure as needed.
This article is extracted from our Complete Guide On Cloud Computing. To continue reading download the guide.
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