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Three Questions Everyone Should Ask About Cloud Hosting

by brantley crowder - August 28, 2018

What Is Changing?

The way digital data and information is processed and delivered is changing.  The new processing system is called cloud computing or simply, the cloud. We are moving to cloud-based computing from dedicated server computing. Cloud hosting stores information across many server instances. This practice increases the risk of website and app downing because the requested information can be delivered from multiple origin points. Information from a dedicated server is delivered from a single origin point. Although this change is happening very rapidly, dedicated servers are still important components of digital infrastructure, especially when it comes to the data protection. As data is fragmented in the cloud and stored on multiple servers, the possibility if data-breach increases. In summary, the actual change that is taking place is the relocation of data and information from private dedicated servers to a public multi-server environment.

Why Is This Change Taking Place?

There are several reasons why computing is shifting from dedicated servers to cloud hosting. Speed and reliability are two important factors driving the shift to cloud hosting. Since a cloud-based system has built-in redundancy or duplication, the failure of a single server in the system would not affect the delivery of the website or app. The cloud system would simply deliver the requested information from another server within the cloud. The end user would never know anything changed. Similarly, as a single server ages, it can slow down as a result of unwanted or unused file storage. A dedicated server needs to be maintained or cleaned up periodically. This process often required downtime. However, as cloud servers slow and require clean-up, all requests are simply directed to other servers within the cloud while the “dirty” serve is serviced.  Since information is stored in many different locations by the cloud, delivery rates can be optimized based on server proximity. This optimization increases the speed of the delivery of requested information to the user.

Cloud-based solutions are hosted by companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Rackspace. As providers, hosting companies have created software to expedite the process of setting up the server service. Setting up a dedicated web server is a much more time-consuming and complicated process.

What Are the Risks Associated With This Change?

There are a number of risks associated with complete adoption and integration of cloud hosting. Specific risks will vary in nature and degree depending on the type of business one is operating and the type of data or information that will be stored in cloud hosting environments. For example, a financial institution must carefully consider their server options because they are responsible for their client’s sensitive financial data. On the other hand, if you use an e-commerce platform to sell things online, cloud hosting is far less risky. Any sensitive information you may collect on your website is not stored and is encrypted upon transaction. Below are 5 risks or issues related to cloud hosting. The degree to which any of these risks might affect a business depends on the nature of the business.

  • Cyber Attacks – As more and more business takes place in the cloud, the risk of cyber attacks increases. Even though cloud hosting providers typically maintain strict security protocols, the cloud environment is huge and stores an incredible amount of data. This magnitude of rich and varied data is a perfect target for would-be cyber attackers. It is very likely that the arms race between hosting providers and cybercriminals is just beginning. This increasing risk definitely necessitates hiring support services like 24/7 cloud monitoring and support.
  • Handing Over Your Data – When you make the transition to a cloud-based service, you are essentially giving the keys to your business to a third party. However, your legal protections should be detailed in the support services agreement you receive from the cloud solutions provider. Remember, you are the client and it is in the hosting providers best interest to keep you happy. There is a small added risk because, in theory, your data is available to employees of the hosting service. Technicians servicing your account have access to your data and others, not directly servicing your account, may have shared access privileges.
  • Indirect or Incomplete Acess – Often the standard support services provided by hosting entities is insufficient especially in the case of emergency. Can you imagine the moment your site crashes as the result of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack? It’s the middle of the night and your hosting provider’s customer service department is not available until the next day.  Even after you make contact, your agreement may specify a 24-hour ticket resolution timeframe. This incomplete access could prevent you from directly addressing this core business issue.
  • Lack of Oversite and Standardization – Because of its relative newness, both oversite and standardization of cloud security are insufficient. As we move forward into the cloud era, we will definitely begin to see improvements but for now, it is important to understand the terms of your agreement with your hosting provider. At some point in the future, watchdog groups and regulatory requirements will be put into place.

Even though the risks above could be significant, even at this early stage of cloud computing, the benefits are impossible to ignore. As we begin to recognize that cloud data is global community data and specific protection standards need to be developed to preserve the integrity of that data the oversite dialogue will accelerate. We may see cloud hosting costs tier by levels of security offered. Or, we may see some attempts at government regulation. In the end, all the transformative stages of human history are coupled with new and different risks. And, I think it’s safe to say that cloud computing is going to be around for a while.

Arcane Strategies offers 24/7 cloud monitoring and support. This service allows cloud-based business owners to sleep easy knowing that their digital assets and data are completely safe.