More businesses are moving legacy applications to the cloud than ever before, but app developers face a unique set of circumstances. Sudden shifts in usage, for instance, can be catastrophic unless you’ve planned well in advance for such an increase — which is one reason load testing tools are so valuable, allowing you to test your app’s performance under a variety of simulated load conditions.
But if you’re hosting your app locally, your problems don’t end with an app that may not be able to handle the load. Can your server take care of it? Can you afford to pay for massive amounts of capacity that you may or may not need? These and other issues are one primary driver behind more developers turning to cloud hosting for their apps.
To learn more about the advantages app developers and organizations are reaping with cloud hosting, we asked a panel of app developers and cloud experts to answer this question:
“What are the biggest advantages to hosting your app in the cloud?”
Meet Our Panel of App Developers and Cloud Pros:
Jay Akrishnan is a Product Marketer at kapturecrm.com.
“The biggest advantage of using cloud hosting for your app is…”
Unilateral data sync between different users. This allows the freedom and flexibility of using as a data communication platform. You can find first-hand applications for this feature for various applications that include work collaboration, gaming, information sharing, etc. The cloud hosting is also typically more robust than VPN-based servers. Also, the download speed and push-pull services are important factors that can determine the success rate of your app. All these contributes to creating a highly collaborative ecosystem to the enable the success of your app.
Matt Fuller is the founder of CloudSploit.
“The biggest advantage of hosting apps in the cloud for us is…”
Crashing our costs. We pay pennies to AWS to run our APIs that scan for security vulnerabilities in other AWS users’ accounts.
95% of cloud security failures will be the user’s fault is a recent prediction by Gartner.
Continually monitoring for security and configuration vulnerabilities is crucial. Even the most secure cloud providers only offer security OF the cloud. The user is responsible for security IN the cloud. As groups, roles, devices, etc. change oversights and misconfigurations open vulnerabilities that lead to outright hacks or just a Financial DDOS. Unfortunately, a single misstep can compromise your entire infrastructure.
CloudSploit continually monitors all or some of your AWS instance, based upon the tests you choose or create and the frequency you want them to run. If an issue is found, it alerts whomever you designate and keeps a record of the finding along with detailed descriptions of the problem and its likely resolution.
Security experts from around the world contribute to CloudSploit. It is an open source project available at https://github.com/cloudsploit with a goal of increasing compliance with best practices, to protect the company infrastructure and their client’s information.
A third generation entrepreneur, John Kinskey founded AccessDirect in his basement 19 years ago and now has a national customer base in a competitive industry. Since 1997, AccessDirect has been providing affordable Virtual PBX phone systems from their offices in Kansas City to businesses of all sizes across the country. Exceptional live customer service and cloud-hosted phone systems with multiple extensions, call routing, voicemail fax and a professional voicemail greeting allow you to connect with your customers, no matter where you are. AccessDirect helps small businesses meet the communications needs of an increasingly virtual world.
“We host our core telephony app in the cloud and the biggest advantage is…”
Redundancy across multiple data centers.
Frederick “Suizo” Mendler
Frederick “Suizo” Mendler is the Co-Founder & CEO of TrueAbility®, Inc. He served as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Rackspace’s Cloud business, as well as the VP of Support.
“The benefits from us specifically hosting in the cloud include…”
TrueAbility’s technology is cloud agnostic. This means we can spin up Proof of Concepts (POC) rapidly and in the most cost effective way on any cloud platform. From the POC, we can efficiently move into production allowing our clients access to the app 24/7 from any geographic region in the world. This means that we can accommodate unpredictable and unprecedented growth from 10 to 10,000+ concurrent users at any time.
Lauren Stafford is the Digital Publishing Specialist for Explore WMS.
“The most significant advantage of a cloud-based system is…”
The ability for its users to readily access data. Cloud integration of data sources is often easier than on-premise options as it requires less hardware configuration and allows organizations to complete the implementation process in a more agile manner. Once in place, users are then able to access real-time data from any device connected to the internet providing the data visibility needed to make good business decisions which in turn improves efficiency.
For example, cloud-based warehouse management systems give users real-time access to their inventory, meaning that data is more accurate and readily collected for analysis. Once more, a cloud-based WMS can show team members relevant supply chain information such as the status of a shipment or package. This improves customer service levels, as integrated cloud systems can accurately track stages in a supply chain and any information can be relayed back to the client, particularly if any critical changes or delays occur.
Margaret Valtierra is the Senior Marketing Specialist at Cohesive Networks. She is responsible for growing Cohesive’s awareness through digital and written content creation, public relations, and community events. Previously, Margaret was VP of Operations at GreenPoint Partners, a sustainability consulting company for commercial real estate. She is a leader of the Chicago AWS user group. Margaret has a BSM from Tulane University and is an AWS Certified Solutions Architect.
“There are six key benefits of hosting your app in the cloud…”
Cost – Cloud shifts the costs of owning and maintaining data centers to on-demand pricing – it’s the difference between capital expenditures (or CAPEX) and operational expenditures (OPEX). According to the CSC Cloud Usage Index, 82% of respondents saved money on their most recent cloud project.
Speed – Cheap, fast, and available compute resources let businesses quickly move past the old steps of developing, test, migrate, deploy and re-architect.
Scale – Amazon (or AWS) has 16 geographic regions around the world. Microsoft Azure is available in 30 regions and 8 in the works. These are pre-built points of presence for business looking to grow internationally.
Productivity – At the very basic level, cloud masks the technologically complex work of providing features, functions, and access to data (think email, Dropbox, Salesforce).
Performance – On-demand scalability, or elasticity lets organizations save on costs by paying for usage, not the maximum capacity needed.
Reliability – Cloud providers all offer Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of services, usually including Availability, Performance, Security / Privacy, Access to data, Portability of data and any Dispute mediation process.
Asaf Darash is the founder of Regpack, an online registration system used by more than 4,000 organizations worldwide including the NFL, Goodwill, and Stanford. Regpack’s technology is based on Asaf’s Ph.D. that dealt with computer data connections and networks and is the foundation for the flexibility of the Regpack system.
“For me, the biggest advantage to cloud hosting is…”
The ability to view and manage your data from anywhere. This is also the biggest draw for many of my clients – they are off site, working from home, travelling, etc. Having your app in the cloud means that no matter where you are, as long as you have an internet connection, you can see your data, run a report, get a piece of information you need without having to download everything you think you might need a local server in your office before leaving the office.
David Cox is the CEO & Founder of LiquidVPN.
“The biggest advantage to hosting your app in the cloud is…”
The biggest advantages for a young company that runs on a lean staff like us is the ability to scale diagonally based on server load. The reliability benefits of elastic IPs and load balancers over multiple regions is crucial for our mission critical systems. A close second would be the granular access control policies and CLI integration.
Kevin Hayen is the CTO of Let’s Be Chefs.
“By far the biggest advantage of hosting our backend in the cloud is…”
The dramatic reduction in ops a headache. Especially when talking about PaaS, all of the massive time sink associated with keeping everything up and running and scaling is simply gone. We host our app on Google’s App Engine, so all we have to do is write code and upload it; Google takes care of the rest. We can have one user or one million users on at the same time, and I can sleep soundly knowing that everyone has low response times with the backend autoscaling (and shrinking). As a young start-up, that peace of mind is worth a lot.
Rishi Khanna is a passionate entrepreneur and CEO. He leads ISHIR, a global offshore technology organization & other high growth companies. Rishi has been part of the outsourcing industry since 1999 & has successfully implemented strategic outsourcing & offshore programs in IT, Cloud, Mobile/IoT, BPO & Digital Marketing functions.
“Your application is experiencing increased traffic, and it’s getting difficult to meet the growing requirements with the current resources…”
If you migrate your application to the Cloud, there are some immediate benefits that you can experience. You can reduce operational costs, increase IT effectiveness, and save time otherwise spent on tracking and upgrading underlying server software. If you are looking to deploy the same service repetitively (with the same results), cloud computing is your definite answer.
One of the biggest advantages of hosting your app in the cloud is that it allows your employees to spend more time on critical tasks that can add value to your business. The employees, in that case, don’t have to waste their time on operational tasks that are mundane, time-consuming and do not add any value to the business in any way. The cloud service providers also ensure that physical resources are better utilized, and there’s less energy consumption.
Mihai Corbuleac is an IT Consultant for Unigma.
“Working at a cloud management company made it easier for me to understand the benefits of cloud hosted apps…”
The first advantage is reliability. Cloud became the most reliable storage service for apps, websites, backups, etc. Another vital advantage is security. Big cloud computing companies such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud invest billions of dollars and probably millions of technical work hours in developing the most secure public cloud. Small hosting companies don’t have the resources to achieve something like that. The third advantage is reduced cost of cloud storage. Competition among cloud providers generated absurdly cheap cloud storage services. They tend to get even less expensive. I would also mention flexibility and scalability because you can move fast to cloud technology and you can easily upgrade your cloud resources to keep your business growing.
Bob is the CFO of Melillo whose expertise has helped build small and medium sized businesses from emerging mom and pop companies to $100M+ organizations with international divisions for the past 25 years. Bob specializes in profit maximization and understands what businesses need to do to get off the ground, how to position themselves to achieve next level growth and how to effectively leverage finance in every department to maximize the bottom line.
“As CFO of an organization, it is no surprise that knowing an accounting system needs to be up and available at all times is a critical function of the business…”
I’ll remember the day it crashed probably in the same way one remembers the Challenger explosion. It was budget season and year-end close at the same time. Everyone in the company was involved in the budget process on one level or another. It all came to a screeching halt when our server crashed and took with it more than a week of financial and planning data. The hardware was fixed that day, but the procedure to back up wasn’t followed, and we lost more than a week worth of data, planning, financials, and results. It took us weeks to recover, and we moved on, but we could never recreate 100% of the lost information.
There was zero doubt that we couldn’t keep our critical products in-house, so we began to look for places to host them in the cloud. The move was the best thing we ever did. What did we gain? We now have continuous backups, data availability at all times and no worries about IT infrastructure failures. Yes, it may cost a little more than keeping it in-house, but the security one gets by knowing the data is safe is immeasurable.
Martin is founder and CEO of Zenkit. He sold his first software product at the age of 15. He’s been developing software in the areas of productivity and business processes over the last two decades. With his company, Axonic has released six major products that serve over 5,000,000 people around the world.
“From a vendor perspective, there are many advantages to hosting your app in the cloud…”
At Zenkit, we decided that a cloud-based solution offers us the best tools for our product while making sure that all of our users are on the latest version of our software.
The main advantages are the following:
- Reliability: Cloud-hosted software is often much more reliable than in-house infrastructure. With cloud-based software, you can offer a Service Level Agreement which guarantees 24/7/365 and over 99.99% availability to your users.
- Higher adoption rates: The barrier to entry for users is low. They’re already familiar with web-based apps, and you can offer one-click registrations. Being web based means that you can offer your product to anyone with an internet connection.
- Scaling: You can scale infinitely to meet customer demand (or lack thereof), and don’t have to upgrade your servers or databases constantly. This means that there are lower initial costs and you can operate on a leaner infrastructure.
- Functionality: As the cloud matures, there are tools that you can use that aren’t available in an on-site environment.
- Flexibility: You can roll out feature and security upgrades and updates to the app to your entire user base, without your users having to download or install anything, or ask their administrators to. If something goes wrong, you can also quickly roll back those changes.
Even long-established companies like Evernote have realized that, not only is the cloud the future but the best place to run your infrastructure.
Dr. Sam Bayer has held various executive positions in consulting and marketing at IBM, Amdahl, Agfa, Sapiens, and Haht Commerce. He introduced the first B2B e-commerce website for SAP® manufacturers. He is the cofounder of Corevist, which offers cloud-based B2B e-commerce solutions for SAP manufacturers.
“The single biggest advantage to hosting your application in the cloud is…”
That someone else takes over those headaches so that you can focus on what’s most important to you – your business. Someone responsible for running an e-commerce website for a manufacturer should be most concerned with finding customers, manufacturing and delivering a product, and providing after-sales customer care. What they shouldn’t be wasting their time with is memory allocation on web application servers, firewall rules, and intrusion detection, choosing the best Content Delivery Network, regular backups, and having a disaster recovery plan. Think of owning a car. Not many people know how to maintain and repair their cars, but everyone who desires to knows how to drive them. That’s the way it should be with applications, especially business ones.
Andre Gauci is the CEO of Fusioo, an easy to use online database software. We work with clients including universities, nonprofit organizations, large businesses, and tech startups.
“Cloud hosting offers scalability to an extent which is typically not possible or financially feasible with…”
Carl Mazzanti is the founder and CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, a premier cloud services provider, IT consulting firm, MSP and digital marketing agency throughout the NYC Metro area and internationally. A frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest, Carl has often contributed at Microsoft-focused events, including the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).
“Aside from the usual benefits cited – scalability, less capital, less maintenance, etc., one of the biggest advantages is…”
Business continuity. Disasters, natural or man-caused, and other outages are business killers. Hosting your app in the cloud is like insurance that works before the disaster strikes to protect what is arguably the most valuable business asset, customer good will.
Sure, outages occur with public cloud providers, but at least, in the public’s mind, it’s not your fault. Plus, you have the best techs in the world working frantically to solve the problem (assuming you choose a good cloud provider).
Saving a few bucks (or maybe not) and having rapid scalability by going to the cloud are nice benefits but nothing compared to effective DR. Don’t wait until you’re out of business because your data center fails to figure that out.
Brady Keller is the Digital Marketing Strategist for Atlantic.Net, a trusted web hosting solution for businesses seeking enterprise level data centers.
“There are many advantages to hosting an app in the cloud…”
No more IT issues – the daily tasks, responsibilities, and stress of trying to manage a data center is now passed on to an outside party.
Increased security – Most businesses enhance their security by transitioning to the cloud, simply because good providers have infrastructure experts and security professionals on their team.
Improved teamwork – the ability to use collaboration tools makes it far easier for employees to work together as a team to increase productivity.
Agility – When we consider the laws of supply and demand, having a physical solution can be limiting. However, the cloud allows you to adapt quickly to changing user demand.
Disaster Ready – If some disaster happens at your physical location, you could lose all your data. While backing up your data is a wise decision, the cloud simplifies the backup process and makes it way easier to implement.
Tieece Gordon has worked with some tech-based companies and is currently with the team at A1 Comms. He finds the convenience of the cloud makes it the perfect platform for working and storage.
“Perhaps one of the most vital elements of modern business is…”
The ability to be versatile and flexible no matter what challenges present themselves. Cloud-hosted apps offer just that in some ways.
The primary and most obvious advantage is ease of access and use. Cloud-based apps require little more than an internet connection. That means that regardless of geographical location, current circumstances and skill set, the right people have access to the right information at the right time.
In turn, productivity and efficiency gets a boost. Instant and simple access means there’s more time to put towards more pressing operations than trying to find something lost within a pile of junk.
There are further benefits on top of this. The risk of data loss is significantly cut given the fact there is a secure storage area protected by tough security. As well as this, cloud-hosted apps may also save money. If you have a dedicated tech team, they can be freed up if your cloud provider helps with the maintenance and running of apps.
Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP – a trusted VoIP comparison resource that helps companies understand and choose a business communication solution for their specific needs. With a 10-year track record in building, growing and strategically shaping operational functionality in all his ventures, Reuben assists SMBs to align business strategy with culture and improve overall corporate infrastructure.
“Hosting an app in the cloud makes it accessible to almost any device that’s web-based…”
It’s incredibly easy to push out updates. It’s a win-win for both the customer and business because the latter doesn’t have to ship out new software or hope people will download its updates. You can maintain one platform that customers login to online, and you can keep updating it without forcing customers to download updates. Cloud hosting also allows for more guaranteed reoccurring revenue. For example, in the case of Adobe Creative Cloud, since customers are locked into a subscription model, they’re consistently paying for their updates instead of opting out of purchasing the newest version. In short, cloud hosting allows for stress-free updates, easy access, generally a lower cost, and scalability (very easy to grow a cloud platform because customers don’t have to worry about hardware).
Terence Channon is the Principal of NewLead, LLC.
“The biggest advantage to hosting your apps in the cloud is…”
The ability to quickly and cost-effectively support significant traffic growth and spikes.
We have seen many sites become inaccessible due to unplanned traffic spikes, such as on Shark Tank appearances, TVG during the Kentucky Derby, or Lumber 84 during the Super Bowl. The same catastrophe can happen to any business when great publicity or an influx in customers due to marketing takes place. With cloud hosting, scaling the server up or down to support current traffic patterns can be seamless, if not automatic. Lastly, the customer only pays for usage. We have seen many systems built on vast, robust systems just in case the big boom takes place. It often does not, at least not to the point of needing such substantial hosting infrastructure. The result? Spending significant dollars for no added-value ‘just in case.’ It can be like paying for an unlimited data plan on your phone when you hardly use any data. With a cloud, the costs are dependent on usage, so in slower months the price is lower, and when a big spike does happen, your bill will go up (it is possible to forecast this for financial modeling purposes) but keep things running. And when traffic returns to normal levels, so does the price.
Aaron Vick is the Chief Strategy Officer at Cicayda. He has an extensive background in interweaving technology workflow enhancements with people.
“The two most evolutionary advantages of the cloud are…”
1) The ability to design instant scalability up and down, and
2) En masse update deployment to the user base.
These features have allowed our technology to leap way beyond any technological design we built in the 90s and 2000s. Having instant scalability provides clients a hassle-free experience regardless of the technical load. En masse update deployment provides us, and other cloud products, the ability to shift dollars and minimize resource staff needed to support a local installation framework.
Jeff Kear is the founder of Planning Pod, a Web-based software-as-a-service that provides event management and registration tools for professionals.
“Innovation is one of the biggest ways to attract and retain customers…”
As well as differentiating yourself from your competitors. By having an application stored on the software provider’s servers (rather than on user machines), the provider can much more quickly launch new features and tools than if they sent out file updates that users may or may not install locally. In addition, software providers can much more easily test new features with their entire live user base versus having to conduct limited testing sessions with designated user groups.
Mirek Pijanowski is the Chief Executive Office and Co-Founder of StandardFusion, a growing cloud-based GRC software application designed to make security and compliance simple and approachable.
“Removing the requirement a large upfront investment…”
With the benefit of no actual physical metal to manage, hosting all our applications in the clouds was the smart decision for our business. Every year, we reevaluate the time and costs associated with moving our applications away from the cloud and quickly determine that with the dropping cost of cloud hosting, we may never go back.
Nat Wilkes is the Interactive Producer for Wildebeest.
“One of the largest advantages of hosting in the cloud is cost…”
Cost is the main driving force for moving applications into the cloud. Before cloud solutions, companies would have to rely on their hardware. A company’s expense to maintain their hardware is extensive and costly, not to mention that the hardware would quickly become obsolete and need replacement.
Moving into the cloud provides a fast and cheap way of scaling a company’s application. An example of this would be Adobe’s stance on moving their applications out into Adobe Creative Cloud. Users are no longer asked to download an application and install it on their system; it’s now accessed within a web app.
Another important advantage is allocation of resources. If you’re on a shared hosting account, those resources (CPU, Memory, storage, etc.) are shared among other clients for that server. Let’s imagine there is an another client running an application that devours most of the resources on the machine; this, in turn, will have huge implications on everyone else on the server. Same goes if there’s a security breach through another client’s application. Now that exploit can be used to possibly gain access to your application. Obviously, hosting companies have preventions to help mitigate these types of issues. However, these are concerns someone should take in consideration with shared hosting.
Adam Stern is Founder and CEO of Infinitely Virtual.
“As a group, entrepreneurial businesses tend to be wired for DIY…”
Self-reliance runs deep, which is why many small and midsize businesses still manage their technology – servers, routers, other networked gear. That said, the times, they are a-changin’ and, increasingly, growing enterprises are looking to move to the cloud – and bring their applications with them, especially via IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service.
At its most basic level, IaaS enables businesses to move all or part of their compute environment to the cloud (that is, off premises), and to make the migration without modifying any of their existing applications. The market is now awash in IaaS tools and technologies, empowering organizations that may lack traditional computing resources to benefit from remarkably robust products and platforms. The pace of cloud migration continues to accelerate as more and more applications become cloud-ready and IaaS becomes the new normal. Users – real people, not professional technologists – can now deploy their apps and manage their security, without the aid of NYSE-listed companies.
What’s the impetus to finally migrate to the cloud and IaaS? A business reaches that fork in the road because it has pushed its servers to the end of their useful lives and now needs to do something about it. IaaS is, in fact, a gift to the “IT-less” – those by definition without a formal, information technology infrastructure, and/or the personnel to maintain and manage it. In the IaaS model, cloud servers and prefab packages effectively supplant technology professionals.
Increasingly, the numbers favor the cloud – and numbers are just part of the equation. Because IaaS requires zero outlay for computer hardware and (typically) modest monthly fees for applications and maintenance – with such under-the-hood essentials as storage, backup, security, disaster recovery, round-the-clock support, etc. baked in – the economic argument is compelling. With depreciation cycles taken out of the equation, compute horsepower truly is a bargain. It’s entirely possible for a small or midsize business to spend $10K a month and tap enough compute power to drive a 1,000-user organization – certainly more than most need, but a comforting statement about economies of scale.
And since IaaS is, for lack of a better term, holistic, it’s inherently flexible. With the entire compute environment in the cloud, employees can access applications and data wherever they are. While some companies lose money thanks to ineffective technology management – a byproduct of the technology buy/deploy/depreciate/junk cycle – IaaS sidesteps that entirely.
In sum, then, the right question isn’t, “Should I go on or off premises?” The smart question is, “What’s strategically best for my business?” When you frame the query in that manner, you can determine where to place your compute power, and you begin to gain control over the dynamic. Want to reduce costs? Increase efficiencies? Achieve some other objective?
So be strategic about the decision to migrate to the cloud. First, decide what your metrics are and how they serve your business — then select the technology. Go back to basics. Otherwise, the tail wags the dog.