Small Business Websites: In A Fog About Cloud Hosting?

Talking Klingon Part of the challenge is the language. Every trade has it’s jargon, but it can create unnecessary barriers. Peter Pollock (author of Web Hosting for Dummies) put it succinctly at last years Cpanel Conference : "Our customers are stuck not knowing the things that we find extremely basic. We try talking in simple language to them, but were actually talking way above their heads. We might as well be talking Klingon. The problems are exacerbated by some of the larger suppliers and service providers. During the recent ITEXPO( News – Alert ) it was revealed that Cisco was dropping its entry-level desktop IP phones because the SMB market – at "only" $600 million – was too small! When focus is so often on those that understand the challenge anyway, is it any surprise that the small companies (who, incidentally, still account for over half the US workforce) are left wondering what’s going on? Clearing The Mist Cloud web hosting certainly offers some interesting possibilities but, before we get into that, let’s have a quick look at "the cloud" in general. Put as simply as possible, when you access the cloud all you’re really doing is working on a bit of hard disk space somewhere else. Instead of on your computer (or cell, or tablet), it’s in a big air-conditioned warehouse on an industrial complex. Chances are, these "servers" (a box with a big hard drive in it) are linked to each other in such a way that if one stops, others take over (redundancy, if a little jargon helps). If it’s working as it should, you never even know it happened. In a nutshell, that’s it. There are all kinds of complicated doodads and doohickeys that do other stuff, but if it works do you really need to know how? If you’re using the cloud for storage or collaborative applications (and that covers the majority) you need to know that it’s reliable and cost-effective. End of story. The Forecast Says More Cloud Cloud web hosting has actually been around for some time, but it’s getting the headlines now because it is (a) realizing its potential, and (b) becoming much more affordable. The advantages can be numerous. It’s largely a software solution – rather than a hardware one – so set-up, management and expansion should all be easier. The same is true of upgrades or implementation of additional services. Which sounds great – but what’s the impact in practical terms? For small businesses at the moment, arguably none.
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Here are a few key takeaways from this weeks Structure Show. 1: There are clouds and then there are clouds Subscribe to Rackspace sees two components to cloud the platform and the services which run atop that platform. Rhodes characterized Amazon Web Services as a proprietary stack which customers use to run things for themselves. Rackspaces job is to provide the services and know-how to run applications optimally atop the platform whether that platform is internal to the customer, Rackspace hosting, private or public cloud. Cloud is another form factor, just as dedicated [hosting] is a form factor. We say its not just the platform but what runs on top and how much service you want atop that. Cloud is excellent for many things but it doesnt take away the work to make applications run right. Net, net, Rackspace is betting that there will always be customers who want to do-it-themselves atop someone elses cloud. And there will also be customers who want to offload not only the platform aspect but the high-end services and application work atop the platform. 2: Focus is key, but theres more than one way to focus Rackspace succeeded in its first decade because it had a vision and stuck to it, Rhodes said. We invented the managed hosting industry and pretty much stuck to our knitting, he said. Thats not to say it wasnt pushed to do other things. Big customers would come to us us to take over our data centers and do desktop support we stayed successful by saying no to those lures He acknowledged some of that focus may have been softened by the proliferation of cloud market hype, but vows that will end. Our strategy in 2014 is returning to our roots as specialized focused player but one that offers business customers a range of options from dedicated hosting to hybrid cloud with private and public cloud components. We dont look at dedicated hosting as our old business but a killer feature of a hybrid cloud system, he said. 3: The cloud opportunity is big, but maybe not big enough for all With Amazon leading in public cloud and dipping its toe in private with the CIA and IBM, HP, Red Hat, Rackspace all pushing hybrid cloud vision, its fair to ask if there is enough paying work for for all these guys, he acknowledged. The market is a sorting mechanism over time. Clearly the world wont need 15 [clouds running at scale] I dont know if the right number in ten years is three or five or seven major players but certainly early stages of seismic shifts in markets tend to have more players getting to a smaller set of player later. But theres s much more here so listen up. The guest segment starts at around minute 18; before that Derrick Harris and I gas on about Google App Engines Peter Magnussons surprise departure to Snapchat, the OpenStack status quo and how new tools will let developers build artificial intelligence into their apps.
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