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I've recently seen a growing number of people encouraging businesses to look at 'cloud hosting' solutions such as Amazon's EC2 and Rackspace's Mosso.

Cloud hosting takes the concept of cloud computing into the realm of hosting.

The appeal of cloud hosting is that, in theory, it makes scaling a website/web application much easier. The top cloud hosting providers have built impressive infrastructures complete with massive server clusters, load balancing, etc.

As your website gets more popular, cloud hosting allows your website to tap into the cloud for greater resources 'on demand' to accommodate your resource requirements.

A client of mine recently read about cloud hosting and asked me if he should move his website "into the cloud" because he had been sold on the benefits of cloud hosting.

The problem with cloud hosting, in his case, was that, given his website's current resource usage, I calculated that it would be far cheaper to continue running it on its current VPS hosting account than moving it into the cloud.

Amazon EC2's "pay only for what you use" sounds great, but when all was said and done, no cost savings were to be found when I ran the numbers.

Mosso's monthly minimum cost is $100 - $40 more than my client's current hosting setup. Flexiscale, a UK cloud hosting provider, was also more expensive.

In the end I told my client that he had no need for cloud hosting, and he finally realized that it made no sense for him, because not only were the costs were greater, the theoretical benefits didn't apply to his website.

I think the majority of businesses are in the same boat and after my experience, created a checklist for other clients who might ask me about cloud hosting.

I would recommend that you only evaluate cloud hosting if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You run a demanding web application that has the ability to use a significant amount of resources.
  • You've experienced sharp, shorter-term traffic "spikes" that have brought your existing hosting setup to its knees or have a realistic reason (not hope) to believe these may occur.
  • You have optimized your web application as much as reasonably possible (i.e. implemented caching, checked for and eliminated inefficient database queries, etc.).
  • You have found it difficult or cost-prohibitive to scale with your current hosting setup and have already tried optimizing that setup (i.e. you already have x servers and have sensibly structured how they're used).
  • You have enough data to show that you will save money using a cloud hosting provider.

Most businesses probably won't meet any of these criteria and will find that most of the "hosting issues" they may run into can be resolved with optimizations to their website and existing setup or a moderate expansion that will probably be cheaper than using cloud hosting.

Cloud hosting offers clear benefits to certain types of businesses but isn't ideal for every business.

In conclusion, before you put your website in the cloud, use the list above to make sure your head isn't in the clouds and that your feet are still on the ground.


Published 7 July, 2008 by Patrick Oak

82 more posts from this author

Comments (5)


Craig Balding


I tend to agree but I think its going to change. I did the same exercise when I created a new blog about Cloud Computing and Security. I thought it only proper I host it 'in the Cloud' (!) but right now its clearly cheaper to go with a Virtual Private Server as you suggest.

I'm surprised no major provider is offering a WordPress Cloud service with caching pre-configured (or at least super easy for non-IT geeks to implement) and massive scalability for those slashdot/digg/whatever peaks. This could be offered as Software As A Service (SaaS) with operating system maintenance all handled by the provider. The side benefit could be timely security patching etc...

Thanks for the post.



over 8 years ago



A bit too early to know but usefull to big high traffic websites.

almost 7 years ago


Matthieu Cany

I am not sure if a could website is a good thing in term of SEO. Google love websites hosted on a dedicated server, it shows that they are better managed and that the person who manage it put a lot of care in it.

almost 7 years ago



Cloud hosting literally means your website is served on a web server cluster with many, many web servers handling all of your visitors. Our hosting platform grows and expands automatically as needed... instantly.

almost 7 years ago



With the growing internet awareness & online transactions the cloud computing will become the necessity for small and big online business owners

about 4 years ago

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