Storage and Websites and VMs – Oh My!

Filed in by Matt Van Winkle | January 29, 2009 9:07 am

These days, it seems to be all about the cloud.  In the last couple of years, this new variant of hosting has built into quite a storm (pardon the pun) amongst the IT community.  On whiteboards all across the world, amorphous blobs that used to represent what lay outside the application infrastructure ( the Internet, for example) have now been elevated to part of the design.   While the change may seem subtle in regards to brainstorming and spit-balling your way through a design session, the options that cloud hosting brings to developers is quite significant.  The challenge, however, is making sense of all the options and how to leverage the different variants this new trend provides.

Cloud can mean a lot of things.  Sometimes it refers to a storage option.  It can also describe a self-contained application platform.  The term is even used to reference leveraged virtual machines where the customer doesn’t have to worry about any of the underlying physical machines.  With all the rapid innovation in this area of the hosting industry, it’s easy to see where people might start getting confused.  While more and more IT shops have embraced various cloud hosting options as part of their solutions, it’s clear that there is a huge population of enterprises that haven’t taken advantage of these scalable and flexible offerings – primarily because they don’t have a comfortable level of understanding.

This became remarkably clear when Rackspace® Hosting recently commissioned a study by by Vanson Bourne to gauge the level of awareness about cloud hosting among businesses of varying sizes in both the US and the UK.  Earlier this week, we released the findings of that survey.  The statement said that while:

More than half of the mid-sized businesses surveyed are aware of cloud hosting with 57 percent of medium businesses in the US and 53 percent of medium businesses in the UK responding as such

smaller businesses:

may be more confused about current cloud hosting technology and services, and less certain of how to utilize the cloud in the future.

It went on to say that:

Although only 14 percent of medium businesses in the US and 11 percent in the UK are already utilizing cloud hosting, 55 percent of medium businesses in the US and 42 percent in the UK have plans to use cloud hosting in the future.

while in both small business markets:

nearly 60 percent of the survey respondents have no plans to adopt cloud technology.

The press release expanded on this latter fact by stating:

It appears from these results that small businesses may be shying away from Cloud Hosting because they do not fully understand the added benefits over their existing hosting solution and, even more surprising; they may view the cloud as being cost prohibitive. This could be a detrimental mix up for small businesses in that they could benefit from the cloud’s scalability and cost efficiency, especially when coupled with their current traditional hosting configuration. A hybrid hosting solution can make for a truly powerful option.

In today’s economic tough times, this could indeed be a costly error.  There will always be a time and a place to leverage managed servers in an infrastructure, but passing on the wonderful combination of flexibility and price point that the cloud can add to a traditional hosted environment is something that we don’t want customers to miss out on – especially if it’s only out of a lack of knowledge.

To that end, we have put together a Cloud Clinic.  This brief walks throug the basics of cloud hosting, some of its history and how it can bennifit buisnesses.  It also touches on the technologies behind it, how it scales and why leveraging a hosted cloud inffrastructure makes more sense than trying to replicate the technology yourself.  We reccomend that anyone considering adding these flexible components to your architecture, or just trying to make more sense of how they all work, read through the clinic.  We think you’ll find it a great jumping off point.

Along with the primer, you’ll find links to addtional resources like The 101 Guide to the Cloud by our own CTO, Mr. John Engates (also available in a downlaodable print version) and 10 Myths About the Cloud.  At any point in this information, can click on over to a listing of the actual cloud offerings that Rackspace® Hosting has in its portfolio.  There are a few other tidbits linked off these pages too.  As always, we put our commitment to Fanatical Support on top of each of these products.  Building cost effective options for customers doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our commitment to have Rackers here around the clock to help them keep things running smoothly.

We encourage potential and existing Rackspace customers to explore our options for cloud hosting today.  Don’t be afraid to give us a call or start a chat session if you have more questions.  We think that businesses of all sizes will find great ways to use these technolgies to ehance the overall effectiveness of their hosted applications.  Allowing your infrastructure to get a little cloudy is a good thing.  Your udnerstanding of it all, however, we’d like to be crystal clear.

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