Cloud Servers vs Dedicated Servers

Are you considering a move to the cloud? Presenting many benefits, cloud hosting seems an obvious choice for your hosting requirements. Sharing the resources of many servers, it offers a dynamic and highly scalable form of hosting that will grow with your business. However, there are many types of cloud and traditional dedicated hosting solutions available. Careful consideration should be given to each and every one. Both cloud and dedicated server hosting have unique features and benefits and the correct match between technology and business objectives is critical to gaining competitive edge.CloudServers

The cloud offers the ideal hosting solution for many businesses, offering high resilience and flexibility. For maximum performance, a dedicated server is still the most suitable option, safeguarding and improving your business's online presence.

Many see cloud hosting as a cheaper alternative to dedicated servers, however, this depends upon the requirements of your business.

Your business can also achieve benefits from both hosting solutions, by combining cloud and dedicated servers to create a bespoke hybrid solution.

Whether you choose public or private cloud, dedicated servers or a hybrid hosting solution, you can rest assured that with us you will benefit from increased performance, speed and support. We take time to understand your needs and can help you through the buying process. Alternatively if you know what you want, simply place your order online via our simple purchase process and we’ll get you up and running in no time!

We would recommend Dedicated Servers if:

  • You need a lot of disk storage (dedicated server storage is cheaper than cloud server & web server storage)
  • You need a lot of CPU/Processor power (dedicated server processor power is cheaper than cloud server & web server CPU cores)
  • You don't need high-availability (if the motherboard fails in your server, it may take several hours to replace the motherboard or transfer your data to a new server)

We would recommend Cloud Servers if:

  • You need to deploy your website quickly
  • You need to be able to restore from backups quickly
  • You need backups included for free
  • You need minimum downtime for memory and storage upgrades
  • You need to be able to reboot through a control panel
  • You need to be able to re-image your server through a control panel
  • You require server and disk resilience (if a server or disk or even an entire SAN fails on our cloud platform, your website will still continue to run)
  • You do not require lots of disk storage, memory or CPU (resources on a cloud platform tend to be more costly than with a dedicated server)

Whatever your requirements, no matter how complex, we can provide an ideal hosting infrastructure to meet them. With 24x7 monitoring and support as well as ISO27001 compliant data centres you can sleep easy when using intrahost.

Call us today on 0800 321 3812 to see how easy and cost-effective it would be to migrate your current hosting infrastructure to intrahost!

>>> Find out more about out Cloud Servers HERE

New OS Templates for Intrahost Cloud Servers

With immediate effect, we have updated our Cloud Server platform to include the following additional Operating System Templates.

Linux Cloud Server

Ubuntu 12.04 LAMP x64 Ubuntu 12.04 x64 Ubuntu 12.04 x86 Ubuntu 13.04 x64

See the full list for the Linux Cloud Server plan.

Windows Cloud Server

Windows 2012 Standard Edition x64

See the full list for the Windows Cloud Server plan.

To upgrade your Cloud Server VM to one of the above templates, simply rebuild your server. Note this will destroy your data, so plan your migration carefully.

If you want to upgrade, we can offer you a free 30 day voucher code, allowing you to time to copy your data across to the new server. :) Just log a ticket and let us know.

Windows 2008 Server will be supported for a long time yet, so there's no rush.

Top 10 Ways Cloud Servers Cut Your Business Costs

If you manage the IT needs for your business then I can guarantee you’ve had this conversation in the last two years: “Are you using the Cloud yet?” If your response is, "No" then I bet their next statement is “But why? Cloud servers are cheaper”.

Why move to cloud servers?

Cost is a big selling point of cloud servers. There are other factors but cost is the main one.

Everyone is looking to cut business costs now. Reducing budgets and streamlining has become part and parcel of what we do in business nowadays.

Yet someone just telling you that cloud servers are cheaper is not enough to make a wise person make the switch. You want to know why, and how, is it cheaper? That answer will help you decide whether the Cloud is right for your business.

Here are Intrahost’s top 10 tips for using cloud servers to cut your costs:

  1. No need for a physical server. Let’s start with the most immediate physical difference in using the Cloud. That big server that’s taking up space in the corner of your office, (or has an air-conditioned room to itself) is no longer needed. Instead you will, basically, rent a physical server owned by your Cloud vendor, in a data centre. We call this a "cloud server". You'll store or host your business data on this cloud server. You have the same access to it but you don’t need to house it. How does that save you money? Well you need less space, for a start. You could use a smaller office. As you will see later all the ancillary costs of owning your own server, for example, the current and capital costs of maintenance, repair, upgrade and replacement will disappear. Other regular monthly costs such as energy bills will fall, as will your insurance premium.
  2. Cloud servers cut down on the costs of IT staff. No one likes to let someone go. However, no one likes having to pay for staff that they don’t need. If you have IT staff that simply maintain your physical server and manage its software then you might not need to have them full-time if you move to cloud servers. Signing up to a Cloud vendor means much of your daily IT management is outsourced to the staff of the Cloud vendor and you may no longer need the current level of your IT manpower.
  3. Do you still need the same office? If you’re replacing your big physical servers with remote cloud servers, then you're reducing the demand for space and you’re also removing the need for the whole team to continue to work from the same place. If you compliment your cloud servers with hosted SharePoint or Hosted Exchange then you’re making it easier for your team to work remotely. Whether working from home or by linking up with consultants and specialists in different places you’re gradually removing the need to have everyone working from 9-5 every day under the same roof. Read our Top Ten Tips on Remote Working to find out more about the impact this could have on your business and its costs.
  4. Software as a service, or SaaS, means that you only have to pay for the applications you’re actually going to use on your cloud servers. There’s no longer any need for ‘bloatware’ or programs that will run on your computer because you bought them as a package deal but that aren’t relevant to your business. What difference does that make? It helps to reduce costs. You’re only paying for what you’re likely to use, like a pick and mix. Say you just need an email service to link all your staff together and help them to connect with calendars and shared tasks then perhaps it’s just worth you getting Hosted Exchange. You don’t get locked into a wider, all-encompassing and expensive deal.
  5. If you're using SaaS then you'll save time and money because you won't need to perform software updates! One of the most frustrating things about buying software programs is how often you need to update them. Patches, tweaks, the list goes on and it’s all time-consuming and frustrating. However if you opt for SaaS then your cloud server vendor is likely to be the one who will update the software for you, remotely. You don’t need to plan it into your time and diary as it’ll just be done and you’ll always be used the latest version of the program.
  6. If the software you’re using it updated remotely, if you only install the software you’re going to need, then it reduces the need for expensive staff training. If you’re still using a physical server at your office then you’re still relying on your IT team to monitor and manage all of your software. It’s a bit of a clunky system as it’s expensive to run and you’re cautious about investing in wholesale changes to the programs. Yet there will come a day when the software you’re using is outdated and you need to overhaul it and modernise. It won’t feel like you’ve saved much money then. The Cloud allows you to make step by step changes helping you modernise at your own pace. Small changes remove the need for an expensive investment in training.
  7. Cloud servers allow you to change your IT capability and all associated costs for no capital outlay and just a predictable monthly fee. If you’re a small to medium sized business then making a big investment in any kind of kit can feel like a big step. Say you need to invest in more processing power. It helps you to do the work you’re doing quicker and gives you more capacity for clients but at the same it might feel like an expensive step, particularly if there are other elements of your business you could do with investing in as well. Perhaps it feels like too big a risk. The Cloud offers wider possibilities. If you sign up to a cloud server, for example, you can get guaranteed CPU power, which could be more than what you already. Alternatively you could collaborate with another small business and share the investment, both renting the same amount of space on the same cloud servers but sharing the load.
  8. What do you do with the money you save using cloud servers? The opportunity to invest and increase your business with the money you save is a good one. SMEs claim that investing in cloud servers has helped them to become more flexible and streamlined. Because they have capacity, it makes it much easier for them to research and identify new opportunities to expand and grow. It might be through working with consultants who bring a particular skill and can offer you a new service, it might be that you use that extra capacity to encourage staff to come up with new and creative ideas about how they might be able to help you grow. Whatever the way you choose to do it the extra space can be used to help you develop your business, making you stronger and more sustainable.
  9. Easy and inexpensive expansion and contraction of your IT capabilities to meet resource demands. Imagine your business does start to grow and you come up with some awesome new creative ideas. Imagine your dreams come true and you start to build up momentum and people start to take notice. Say you’re on twitter and a big magazine or celebrity retweets you, directing everyone to your website. Would it make your current website crash? Being locked into an antiquated deal that doesn't understand the growth in direct and online marketing means you could be putting all of this energy into raising your profile and reaching more customers and it actually damages your brand when they can’t reach your website. A cloud server deal with Intrahost gives you metered access, meaning it doesn’t matter how many people suddenly flood to your website, they’ll all still be able to access it.
  10. Can you put a price on a happy crew? One saving you get from utilising cloud servers isn't one you can immediately put in your wallet. Cloud servers can help you give your staff much more control over how, when and where they work. When employees have more control they are undoubtedly happier. When technology becomes less of a headache and more of a useful tool then it makes the job easier for them. Happier staff are more productive staff. In the long term it’ll make your business a much nicer place to work and far more productive.

Intrahost's cloud servers are among the most stable and fastest cloud VPS servers in the UK. To learn more about cloud servers and what they can help you, click on the button below.

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Top Ten Tips for: Working from Home with Cloud Computing

More businesses are starting to talk about remote working. Call it working from home, call it being switched on all the time it’s becoming a more attractive possibility for companies and workers thanks to Cloud Computing. It might mean having staff log-in from a home office, switching on and feeding into a report or conversation from a coffee shop or hotel or being able to work with a team or on a project in another city or country. There are real benefits in terms of helping employees create a better work/life balance, helping to increase productivity (no more long chats about telly at the water-cooler) as well as reducing costs.

It is a big step, though, and it promotes a fundamental shift in how we do business as well as how we view working. Gone are the days when “being at work” meant sitting in-front of a computer beavering away from 9 am to 5pm. For many it does still mean this but for others it can include using a smartphone, working flexible hours or checking in via Skype.

So why is it possible? Instead of having data stored in a hardware server in the office that everyone needs to be logged in and connected to the Cloud is removing this geographical tether. Storing business information in the Cloud means you don’t have to be sitting at your desk to work. Instead you can access reports, spreadsheets, documents or images from anywhere using any device. That same information is stored in a server off-site. Whether you opt for a Cloud Server, Virtual or Dedicated Server it means you can access the same information using  a laptop, smartphone or even a tablet, potentially.

If remote working using Cloud Computing is something you want to think about, here are Intrahost’s top tips:

1. The keyword for remote working is flexibility and that’s at the heart of the approach. When you’re looking into the deal you need to think about the kind of connection you’re looking for and what will suit your business best. There might be a lot of documents and data that each staff member needs to access, or it might just need to be communication that you need to consider. Hosted Exchange means you can access email, shared contacts, calendars and tasks with up to ten aliases per mailbox. It’s a simple solution to helping to keep every member of the team connected wherever they are. There is also ‘push’ mobile technology meaning with it can work on smartphones.

2. Don’t feel you have to invest in a whole new kit for every member of the team. If you’re asking staff to work from home then there may need to be a reasonable investment in technology but there’s no need to write a blank cheque. One of the most attractive features of migrating to Cloud Computing is saving money. You don’t have to pay for the upkeep of a vast and bulky server in your office, you don’t need the staff to monitor and maintain it and you don’t need to invest in regular updates. There’s little point spending all of the saved cash on expensive kit for your team to enable them to work from home. Only spend what you really need. Does everyone need a new Blackberry, really?

3. Security is a big issue for those looking into remote working and understandably so. They want to make sure that, while staff can access business data from wherever they are simultaneously there can be no unauthorised network access. Many believe that the Cloud will prompt businesses to think more carefully about how they store their data. Cloud Computing is just as secure as having a hardware based option. Providers like Intrahost employ techniques to ensure both physical and network security. The building where the servers are kept has a range of features like key fob access and CCTV to make sure there are no unauthorised attempts to access data. On the network firewalls are used along with multi-layered authentication to prevent spam, threats and viruses from damaging or accessing information.

4. If you’re a business looking into the possibility of remote working for your staff then you need to think about how you’re going to manage it. It has real benefits for employees in terms of childcare solutions and getting a better balance but you have to think about it from a company perspective. Does every member of staff need to work remotely? It might not suit everyone and there could be individuals who know they won’t be as productive working from home as they would be in an office. Flexibility is about choice. Similarly it may feed in to how you hire new members of staff. Trust is important and you’ll need to think of how you’ll monitor hours and activity. Understanding the difference it will make along with the benefits will help you shape the impact it will have on you and your company. If you’re the kind of manager that simply doesn’t think staff will work out of the office then possibly it’s not for you. But if you do then work out who needs access to what and how it might be implemented.

5. If you’re an individual, say a web designer or a graphic designer then remote working allows you to set-up your own business without the risk of start-up costs. You get low overheads and can work for clients anywhere in the world from your home office or the local coffee shop. It makes it easier for you to collaborate on projects, to grow your business without being limited by geography. Yet you do have things to think about; branding and consistency for one is important, as well as how you manage and report your won hours and when you’re online. Remote working is a relatively new phenomenon so it’s important to manage the process carefully and be able to communicate clearly and effectively to alleviate any concerns.

6. Reporting becomes more important when employees are working remotely. You don’t have the benefit of being able to catch up with colleagues over the top of your computer. You’ll need to set-up a series of communication tools, whether it’s weekly reporting or daily. You need to keep track of where everyone is up to and how a particular project is progressing. There are various applications you can use for this and Hosted SharePoint is just one.

7. Don’t get sold on having every application for your business. The real strength of Cloud Computing is that you pick and choose what you need and the service that suits your business. If remote working allows you to be more flexible and streamlined then don’t be taken in by someone selling you tools that aren’t in your to-do list. It should be an add-on, not completely re-inventing the nuts and bolts of the work you do day to day.

8. Does remote working mean that you don’t need an office? We’ve already discussed that it might not be for everyone. The idea of flexibility could be doing a range of different hours, rather than everyone working from home all the time. Many companies find that they still like having a business address and you might still need a space for meetings or client presentations.

9. Embrace the idea of innovation. Remote working is all about freeing up time so you have to think about how that extra time could benefit your business. How about having an ideas exchange? Staff can use an extra hour that’s not being spent in the commute to think about different ways to expand, diversify or develop their work and the business.

10. Know when to switch off. Working from home is great in terms of improving a work/life balance but it does mean your office is in your home. Also if you can access all your business information on a smartphone or laptop then it can be easy to start checking emails or finishing reports in the evening or over the weekend. Inevitably there will always be projects that need a bit of overtime but don’t run the risk of working long hours consistently. Know when to turn it off and take some time off.

Work from Home with Cloud Computing and Cloud Servers

5 steps to heaven. Or a cloud. Ok. A Cloud Server.

Technology can feel like something that weighs you down, rather than frees you. It can be expensive, it might not suit what you need and you might feel like you’ve been sold something off the rack that’s working so hard to be applicable to as many people as possible it fundamentally drops the ball.

If this is how you feel about your own IT solution perhaps you should think about a Cloud VPS Server. Here are the steps that might govern whether it is right for you to sign up.

1. Your IT relies on expensive hardware and software devices. It simply isn’t feasible anymore. If this is how you feel then you need to start looking for a more cost-effective and flexible solution. If your IT feels like it doesn’t fit you need to start researching one that does.

2. You work flexibly. Whether a small business or a freelance the strength in your offer means being able to work 24/7 if you need to. So you need a solution that works in the same way. You need to be able to access data around the clock. If you’re looking for a cloud hosting option you need to consider architecture; are you looking for something public, private or hybrid?

3. Not only is the time you need to access data flexible, so is the amount of space you need. If your plans come to fruition then your need a flexible storage solution as well. There is no point hobbling or limiting yourself before you’ve even begun. A Cloud Server usually comes with unlimited storage space. There’s also unlimited metering with Intrahost so if you get a spike in traffic it won’t affect your visibility.

4. You want to get what you need. Cloud Servers are often described as being “scalable”. This essentially means you can pick and choose what you need. You don’t get a one size fits no-one solution. Instead you can work with a provider to mix and match tools to help working easier and collaboration simpler.

5. You need to cut costs. In the same way you should never blindly re-sign with an energy company without looking for cheaper alternatives, the same should be said for IT. You’re increasingly thinking there should be a more cost-effective solution. Cloud Servers would dramatically cut the cost of what you need. You don’t need to host servers and an IT team to manage the service. It is pay as you go in many ways as you’re only paying a monthly fee and don’t have to sign up to a long contract. That makes it more flexible and also cheaper.

If you’ve read through each of these steps and considerations and thought it mimics your own concerns with your IT solution then perhaps you should be thinking about a Cloud Server. Flexible, cost-effective, scalable and with 24/7 support it can be exactly the partner you need to help your business grow.

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What the Cloud is not!

You can read a lot of lists about what the Cloud is; how it can revolutionize business and how we interact with technology. The Cloud, if you believe some blogs, is the answer to all of our prayers rather than just a bunch of cloud servers. It’s true that Cloud Computing is fundamentally shifting the technology industry. The biggest change is that we’re moving from using desktop PCs to having all the same information and data accessible from handheld devices. It’s meant that designers and software makers have had to shift the applications, the systems and the services they are developing and offering. Not only consumers interacting with them differently but they are also expecting different things from them; look at the changes in Maps for example, rather than just giving directions we now need to know how far away the nearest petrol station, Wi-Fi zone or coffee shop is.

It’s exciting, if nothing else, and it has been a great leveller. Smartphones and tablets are much more affordable so the Cloud is more accessible. It’s something we can all use, to differing degrees, and therefore all have an opinion.

As positive as all this is, it isn’t all good news. The fact that we all have an opinion means there’s a lot of inaccurate information about the Cloud out there. Rumour and conjecture becomes fact in the course of an afternoon in the blogosphere, making it difficult for those who sell Cloud services, whether as a vendor or re-seller, to get their point across clearly.

So while The Cloud is made of cloud servers, here are five things it’s not:

  1. You can’t visit it. Yes, there are physical farms of cloud servers where real and tangible servers are held securely. But the Cloud isn’t somewhere you can visit. It’s not a state of mind, either. Think of it as wherever your data is, just a touch of a button away. That’s what makes it so flexible.
  2. Virtualization and the Cloud are not the same thing. Virtualization is the ability to run "virtual machines" on top of a "hypervisor." Virtualization can run on a physical machine, but isn’t limited to just one. It’s the process that makes Cloud Computing, particularly Cloud VPS servers possible. But it’s not the same as Cloud Architecture. That’s the framework that allows you to access Cloud Services. Confused? Think of virtualization as the technology that makes the Cloud possible. The Cloud is the ability to drive and travel to places quicker. Virtualization is the car.
  3. The Cloud isn’t a locked cell. It can be tempting, particularly if you find technology a bit jargon heavy and overwhelming, to think that signing up to the Cloud means you can simply toss responsibility over to someone else. You’re putting your data, services and information on a vendor's cloud servers. You’re entrusting a lot to an outside provider and so you need to keep an eye on it and change the service if you need to. Problems with those relying on the Cloud, like LinkedIn and GoDaddy shows there’s still a need for management. Just because it’s in the Cloud doesn’t mean you don’t have control of it anymore.
  4. It’s not one Cloud for big business and another for entrepreneurs. The Cloud is one great leveller. No matter your budget, size, resources and knowledge you can use the same Cloud resources as a multi-national even if you’re a one man band. It offer the same chance for business to test and invest in applications without taking a huge risk in terms of cost and investment. That makes it much easier for small firms and entrepreneurs to grow their offer and expand.
  5. The Cloud is not all talk. There is a lot written about the Cloud. A LOT. It can be tempting, therefore, to dismiss it as all talk. It isn’t the case and the rapid uptake of the Cloud over the past year, particularly amongst entrepreneurs and SMEs has resulted in a lot of positive case studies. It has changed how businesses and individuals relate to technology. They feel more in control of it, rather than the other way around. This shift is at the heart of cloud adoption and means that whatever is said about it, the Cloud is a game changer.

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Top 5 Creative Uses For Cloud Servers

If you’ve opted to store your work, or even your business data on Cloud Servers then the chances are that you’re currently patting yourself on the back for saving yourself some money. Right now you’re probably thinking about how much it would have cost you to install a physical server into your office and to maintain it day in and day out and you’re congratulating yourself on a creative and cost-effective solution.

And so you should. But your creativity shouldn’t stop there.

Investing in a Cloud Server and Cloud Storage is about more than just saving money. Instead it can fundamentally shift how you work and how you store your data online. It helps you have control over how and where you store your data; how you can share it and have more control over your working practices. It can become the way in which you shape your business.

So here are five creative ways that you can use your Cloud Servers:

  1. Set-up an FTP If you don’t know what an FTP is then click on Windows Explorer. Basically that’s the principle of an FTP (file transfer protocol). If you need to download and upload files, perhaps if you work remotely or produce large files for clients – like video or high-resolution graphics – you can do it much more simply with a Cloud Server. Set-up at FTP and you can drop your files into newly created folders making them as public or as private as you like. Cloud Storage means you’re essentially saving it off-site but it makes it much easier for your clients to be able to access the material in a time that suits them.
  2. Making it easier to work together A Cloud Server allows you to store and organise your business data online in a separate location. The next logical step is to ask other people to join in. If collaboration is a big part of the way your work, if you’re used to bringing different individuals and specialisms into your work practice then a Cloud Server will make that much easier. Allow access, share information and remove the need for working side by side or face to face.
  3. Tidy work, tidy mind We all feel much better when we’re organised. Piles of papers, whether physical or virtual; finding it difficult to source information and files quickly and easily. It’s time-consuming and frustrating. A Cloud Server can help you to remove all of that clutter and streamline your information. A clear, concise organisation of files and data makes everything but easier to find. It also helps improve business communication, internally more importantly than externally. If you have documents, like training material or protocols that everyone needs to be able to read a cloud server can make it easier to access the information. Knowing you can lay your hands on any aspect of your business without a huge amount of stress removes a great deal of time-wasting.
  4. Keep your pictures and video in one placeIncreasingly photos and video are an important part of how we project our business. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re a photographer or video producer but in terms of communications what we’re putting there is becoming more visual. The problem with this is space. High-res video and pictures take up a lot of rom. If you’re, say a PR agency and you have six or seven clients, each with folder after folder of pictures of launches, products and videos you’re going to run out of space fast. A Cloud Server enables you to store all that data offsite, virtually. You can access it quickly and easily but it doesn’t weigh down on your storage space.
  5. Back-up, back-up, back-up! The truth is that hard drives are not what they used to be. If you’re using a computer hard drive and an external hard drive to store all your data you might be worried it makes you more vulnerable to loss. Increasingly people are using Cloud Servers as a new form of storage. Talking to your provider about security becomes even more important than normal but it’s a fundamental part of business to find new ways to back-up all your information. Cloud Servers do that quickly and easily.

 

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Cloud Computing: Top 5 Cloud Myths Debunked

When a new technology like cloud computing emerges, for the first few years you’re not going to get a consensus. When it is impacting business practice, making it easier for freelancers and creatives to get started and service their clients, helping SMEs work on the go and be more flexible it is inevitable that people will see different strengths in it. Cloud Computing has become as attractive for big multi-national corporates as it has for independent, self-employed web designers. Its strength lies in its ability to be moulded to suit individual needs. Looking for a safe and secure way to manage staff at a range of sites? Try Hosted Exchange. Want to diversify your business and add a new technology to your offer? Try Cloud Hosting.

Yet the strength of cloud computing can also be its weakness. Get five vendors in a room together and ask them what the biggest thing about cloud computing is. They’ll probably all give you a different answer. That can be good for people who want to shop around but it can also create problems. It makes it hard to define and explain to someone who has no knowledge of the technology. What do you say is the most important thing about the Cloud if the people selling cloud computing can’t agree? Leading on from that is the creation of myths. When people can’t agree on a definition it becomes easier for myths and false ideas to permeate and spread.

Cloud computing might have been in development for a generation but we’re still at the stage of myths. For those wanting to sell the advantages of the Cloud, here are the top five myths that need to be debunked.

1. The Cloud isn’t secure

This is one that just keeps coming back, even if those who work in cloud computing know it isn’t true. It can be easy to understand where the naysayers are coming from. The growth of computer technology and its explosion into all of our lives came with the PC, the Personal Computer. You could define and grow your little corner of the technology world with your own keyboard and screen. Ownership was a huge psychological factor. When people set-up their own businesses they did so with sizeable servers in the corner.

There was an element of control stemming from the fact that you could micromanage every inch of your IT arrangements.

Cloud computing throws that practice out of the window. If you use a Cloud Server or Hosted Exchange you no longer need a server in your office. You’re essentially renting space on a server owned by someone else and it’s often based in a different country. You’re handing over a lot of responsibility to a third party you really need to trust. We’re not very good at that.

Similarly the PC has always been sold by vendors as being the most secure option. It was in their interests to tell us that so they did. Perhaps this is why so many of them are now finding it hard to sell Cloud computing; they’re going against the message they’ve been feeding consumers for three decades. In fact, you lose your PC or it crashes we all know what happens. Everything can be lost. Having your work and material backed up remotely is more reliable.

In terms of security every provider will put different levels of importance on that. Finding the right solution means asking what their security provision is. There are two elements of security; making sure the Cloud itself is secure protecting you from a virus or spam and physical security i.e., making sure the servers are protected. An Intrahost, for example, there is a complex security system regulating who comes in and out of the building where the servers are housed as well as CCTV.

The information we’re putting on the Cloud, whether for personal use or business, is highly important and sometimes sensitive. Dismissing cloud computing as not being secure tars every provider with the same brush. Security and reliability are tied up in the same thing. Asking the provider exactly what they do to make sure your presence in the Cloud is protected is vital. The flexibility of cloud computing means you can scale the privacy and public nature of what you invest in depending on what you need.

2. Cloud Computing is just for big business

There can be a tendency in business to assume those that are making the most money are the most important. The knock-on effect from this mentality means that when a new technology emerges the chatter tends to talk about it in terms of how it will impact the very biggest firms. SMEs and entrepreneurs don’t feel it is applicable to them, largely because they haven’t been told it is.

It’s easier for multi-national developers and providers to shout from the rooftops when they sign a deal with a major brand. It makes them appear mainstream and successful, but it does alienate smaller firms who are often their bread and butter. The SMEs are also the ones who can drive adoption and with the growth in that sector and their impact on the economy their importance shouldn’t be underestimated.

A flexible Cloud solution can benefit a freelance web designer in the exact same way it can a global conglomerate; perhaps even more so. A freelancer can’t afford the infrastructure needed to run a huge business but a Cloud Server and Virtualization technology opens the door to an IT solution that meets their needs and helps them grow their business. The scalability of the Cloud, it’s cost-effectiveness makes the real difference for this smaller business set-ups.

Big business might have a larger budget but the strength of the Cloud comes from its ability to be moulded to suit need, rather than forcing the same solution on everybody.

3. We already use Gmail so we don’t need the Cloud

The principles of Cloud Computing have filtered through into business thinking, but much of it is based on knowledge from one small corner of the technology, rather than the big picture. A set-up like Gmail can make people think they don’t need to explore wider Cloud services. They can log-in to their email, set-up a calendar, share Docs from device to device.

However, with a Hosted exchange solution you get this and more. You get a POP Mailbox, 50MB of storage, several email aliases – vital for a small business or a creative working as part of a team – smartphone and web access, shared calendars as well as the security measures like anti-spam and anti-virus and backed up software. It’s a much easier to get in touch with a Cloud Provider than Google. If your Gmail goes down do you have 24/7 access?

Having one OpenSource solution can limit your business. Anyone who sets up on their own ultimately wants to grow. They want to be able to increase their storage needs if they want to, offer new services to clients. OpenSource is great when you start out but it isn’t scalable enough when you’re ready to expand.

4. Cloud computing is all about cost

Yes, cost is important. No, it means you probably won’t need an in-house IT team. Cost is what has made cloud computing accessible to businesses of all sizes. But it isn’t the most important factor. Being able to grow your business flexibly, securing a scalable solution to meet what your business needs and no-one else’s as well as being able to sign up and start within hours are much stronger benefits.

The economy has inevitably meant we are all working harder, more often and need our work to be more flexible. Cloud Computing has grown probably because it fits with that mentality. It can suit what we want to do when we want to do it. It has removed the frustration and the tethers tying us down to IT. Want to work from home? No problem. What to be able to answer your clients and work efficiently when you’re on the move? The Cloud can sort that. It is this basic ethos that has made the Cloud popular and is at the heart of it appeal.

5. The Cloud isn’t going to last

Yes, technology does tend to come and go. Ask anyone who’s had to invest in myriad devices from any particular software giant and you’ll know that. The minute you lay down your credit card a voice in the back of your head tells you “This will be obsolete in five years, what’s the point?” Frustrating? Yes. Much you can do about it? No.

Cloud computing will evolve. What we see as being the norm now will change. But because the Cloud is as much an ethos and practice as it is a service it will never disappear completely. Personal Clouds are growing in popularity, particularly like cloud servers where individuals look for the simplest solution that is flexible enough to meet their needs.

Remember the Pick and Mix at Woolworths? All the sweets were there but the reason we liked it was because we could pick and choose what we liked. For me it was marshmallows, fried egg sweets and cola bottles. Your pick won’t have been the same. Cloud providers are making it much easier for cloud computing customers to select the bits they need and taking away the rest.

While people can find solutions that are secure, reliable, scalable, meet their needs and is cost-effective they will keep returning to the Cloud.

Cloud computing UK

5 savings you could be making with Cloud Computing

To virtualize or not to virtualize, that is the cloud computing question. If you’re thinking about whether to take that first leap into cloud computing then that’s probably the question you’re asking yourself.

But the truth is the Cloud is more multi-layered than either using it or not. There are a range of steps, that start with whether you want it or not and end with how far can you use it to help you grow your business.

The first step is obviously if you’re sitting in an office staring at your physical server. It’s expensive updating to latest technology. It’s expensive having staff fix it and patch it if it crashes. There are higher energy bills to consider, not to mention the space.

But that’s just the start of cloud computing. You might have invested in cloud servers but wonder whether you should be using it across more of your business. Perhaps you only use it for Hosted Exchange, SharePoint or for hosting business data such as shared folders and calendars. But you might be wondering whether you should dip your toes in further.

There are further possibilities like using cloud servers for disaster recovery, streamlining company activity as well as sharing resources amongst offices and staff.

Not every solution will suit each and every business. Why would it? Every business and individual is different after all. There are cost-savings that, whether in real terms or as a knock-on effect, can become the most attractive proposition for the Cloud. Yet if you think about how you work and then begin to think about the technology you might use to suit it, you can consider whether investing more into cloud computing can save you even more.

Here are five areas in which cloud computing will make cost savings

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1. How much is your infrastructure costing you? The flexibility of the Cloud is its most attractive feature. This is where the real savings can occur and it’s about technology mirroring your existing practice. Do you work with staff at various different sites? Does each and every one of those staff need to have access to the same, shared information? If yes and you’re still working with physical servers then alongside your IT costs you’re probably got a fairly lengthy folder of expenses claims. Travelling around the country for face to face meetings, expensive postage fees to send material here and there. Your technology and your infrastructure aren’t marrying up. Start with writing down how you work and how technology might be able to make it easier, and cheaper. SharePoint might be the easiest solution.

2. You work isn’t the same month in and month out. With more and more people becoming their own boss they’re looking to reduce their overheads as much as possible. Relying on freelance and contract work means that your technology requirements might not be the same throughout the year. Pointless, then, to lock yourself into a deal that costs you money for twelve months but that you only need for around a third of that time. What’s the solution? Investing in a Cloud Server, for example, means you can sign up to a month by month deal. It is flexible, allows you to pay for what you will need but to reassess when you no longer need it. The benefit is that, when a project comes to an end, you don’t have the repeat bills for the technology you’re not using.

3. You want to innovate but aren’t looking for more overheads. If you work on your own then coming up with new ideas for business strands is an important part of your day to day work. However you don’t want every new idea or development to come with a hefty price tag. Extending your services to offer web-hosting as well as web-design, for example, or perhaps exploring web applications like perhaps video editing or project management tools to suit fixed term projects or that offer something new to existing clients, this is an important part of growing your business. Innovation might be vital but crippling overheads can nip your idea in the bud before it even starts. A scalable Cloud Computing solution that offers flexibility, meets your needs and could even encourage collaboration with other professionals in the same boat might be the most cost-effective solution.

4. Bring staff and skills in when you need them. Redundancy and unemployment have been the two dark clouds hanging over the jobs market over the last five years. For many SMEs the solution has been to expand and contract organically. It means bringing in the skills and experience you need on a project by project basis, rather than say having a graphic designer employed full-time or a video editor, you bring them in when you need them. If this is the way you want to work, and it has its benefits, you need technology to match. It can mean saving money. Your business data and applications can be stored on a Cloud Server in a central space. You can invest in more email aliases and access requirements as and when you need it. You can manage how much the freelance staff can see and use web applications like Basecamp or Sharepoint to have project goals and off-site project management.

5. Increased stability and the power to plan. No businessman, be they a CEO, entrepreneur or project manager ploughs on into the future without putting down a strategy or plan in place. You might be old school and think you only need to do this using a pad and a piece of paper but if you employ staff or collaborate on projects then you might want to share it with other people. There are web applications you can use, accessed via the Cloud that can help make this process easier. Even if it starts as a shared document and then evolves into a questionnaire or creative, ideas-led strategy then you want to get different views and perspectives. A cloud computing solution will make this easier helping as many people feed in at a time that’s easy for them. It makes it simpler for you to collate responses and it means being able to plan ahead and develop your business without having to spend a lot of money.

Make cost savings with cloud computing

How the Cloud reduces downtime (Part 2 of 3)

This week Intrahost has a special series of blog posts looking at how Cloud Computing is affecting real businesses. Whether a small business, a medium sized business or just a one man band you’re always exploring new ways to grow and expand. As a technology provider, Intrahost is in a unique position to talk to these businesses, find out how they’re exploring opportunities to grow and how they want their technology and IT provision to be part of that. Second up making IT more secure. Downtime and crashing can be the difference between success and failure for many firms. An infrastructure that isn’t up to scratch, which stops working taking down your productivity along with your technology means you can’t deliver for clients. It harms your bank balance and it harms your reputation.

An in-house server is fast becoming an outmoded solution. Not only does it means you have to hire internal staff to look after and monitor it but if it goes, that’s it. You and your staff need to either down tools or find alternative arrangements until it is fixed. The benefit of Cloud Computing, many who have signed up have found, is that they have 24/7 support and the infrastructure of a separate, dedicated IT provider. This makes them feel more secure. A larger infrastructure reduces the risk of downtime.

ipPatrol, one of the UK’s largest server monitoring solutions came to Intrahost for support with their disaster recovery servers. They work with customers’ websites, in a range of sectors including international charities and leading financial institutions and wanted to ensure there was never any impact on their performance.

With a catch word of guaranteed availability, Intrahost offered a secure hosting environment for ipPatrol’s critical disaster recovery servers. If ipPatrol’s main data centre had any interruption in service then their clients work would be interrupted. Intrahost used co-location services to house the critical disaster recovery servers. It offers the highest level of protection in a secure facility with closed circuit video surveillance, precision air conditioning systems – vital for no interruption in performance – and environment controls. There is also round the clock monitoring and customer support. This makes the system more secure but also means uninterrupted levels of support and performance.

Northstar Design approached Intrahost because they needed to minimise downtime and email failures which risked damaging their business. Not being able to work effectively and efficiently, along with frustrating customer support meant they were draining resources and risked souring client relationships.

Using a Virtual Private Server, Intrahost could provide Northstar with a secure and flexible hosting environment. The ability of the server to scale up and down depending on their requirements reduced the risk of downtime and crashing. 24/7 customer support means if they have any questions they can get them answered quickly and easily.

Security means different things to different businesses, that’s why the solutions have to be bespoke and suit demand and operations. Cloud Computing can provide a more resilient solution less likely to result in disruption to your work and profitability.

How the Cloud can grow with your business (Part 1 of 3)

This week Intrahost has a special series of blogs looking at how Cloud Computing is affecting real businesses. Growth is important to all sectors, particular small and medium businesses. As a technology provider, Intrahost is in a unique position to talk to these businesses, find out how they’re looking to expand and how they want their technology and IT provision to be part of that. First up, scaling.

One of the hardest elements of businesses is projection and planning. If the last five years have taught us anything it’s that’s you don’t know what’s around the corner. The economy can throw a curve ball at you and you need to be able to react fast. The companies, both small and large, who have done well during the recession are those who have been able to adapt.

Yet in such a changeable environment how can you hope to have any kind of strategy?

A scalable technology solution that’s flexible and can grow with you, or be scaled back when you need it, is ideal. The last thing you want is to be locked into an expensive deal when the money is flowing, only to start worrying about the outlay and expenditure if things start to get tight.

939 Design is exactly one of those small firms that’s been able to grow exponentially over the past few years. Demand for their web hosting skills grew rapidly over a short period of time. It was great to see the firm expanding and generating more income but they had a concern about their existing infrastructure. Their Internet Service Provider, or ISP, simply couldn’t keep up. The customer support wasn’t up to scratch. Many companies can get into the same situation. When it feels like technology is holding you back it is frustrating, you can see and almost touch the opportunity, but feel like you’re being held back.

939 Design got in touch with Intrahost. They wanted a resilient platform that they could rely on. They also wanted flexibility. If they needed to grow memory and disk space to accommodate new customer and new clients, they wanted to be able to offer that, without worrying about costs and whether the server could take it. As a busy firm it needed to be implemented without any hold up or problem for them and their clients.

Intrahost provided 939 Design with a Virtual Private Server. It offers a stable and a flexible hosting environment that is secure for them and their customer’s data they’re hosting. Most importantly, the VPS is much cheaper than a dedicated server meaning they would start to see the benefit of the growth in their business and adapt it without having to invest in new and expensive technology. The VPS can be scaled meaning however busy 939 Design are, their clients don’t receive any change in service. They also have committed data rates meaning even if one website suddenly gets a lot of traffic, there will be no drop in capacity.

Identifying an area where you can grow your business is exciting. When clients start to invest in your idea you know you’ve made the right choice and there’s a potential for even more expansion. However, the last thing you want is to feel like your technology is holding you back. A scalable solution, that works flexibly with you needs now, as well as in the future, means you can explore new income strands and win more clients, without worrying if you have the infrastructure to cope.

The Olympics is in the Cloud

You think you’ve heard a lot about the Olympics now? Wait until it gets underway. London 2012 will be all dominating in every sphere, news, sport, on social networks, web adverts and blogs much like this. When you think of the logistics of the event, potentially you’re thinking about how your look after the athletes, how you get people to and from venues, how traffic around the capital will flow smoothly. Yet if you think of the global audience, it becomes clear that the digital footprint of the Games is just as important as what’s happening in the real world. A friend of mine works on the BBC website. As the biggest broadcaster and one of the partners, their focus is getting podcasts, video, updates and an ever-changing landscape through their website. It’s a huge undertaking.

It’s just as big for those looking after the 2012 website itself. An interview with Russ Ede who runs the London 2012 Olympics website in PC Advisor goes into some detail on how they are providing a supporting infrastructure for one of the most watched sports events in the world. The organisers are relying a lot on Cloud Computing and technology to make sure everyone who logs on has a great experience.

There’s no huge server farm, and they use Akamai to stream the thousands of hours of live video people will be logging on to watch during the event. A huge amount of the packages are open source. The website is the hub for all of the live enws, so it’s managing stas feeds from every venue and event.

Clearly the biggest fear is if the site goes down. They’ve been planning for usage, how many will log on as well as contingency plans if it goes down. They need to make sure their infrastructure is robust so have been testing loading systems. They think up to a million people could log on each hour.

Admittedly, it’s unlikely your website, or your client’s website, could ever have to deal with this kind of traffic. But increasingly as businesses consider their digital strategy and want to offer customers as much as they can, the issue over testing, making sure the site is robust and that all eventualities are considered is a good approach for us all.

A Cloud Server uses a physical server and accessing a section of it for yourself. You can define how much memory, how much storage space and the CPU Power you’ll need. Importantly you can also get unmetered monthly traffic. This means that if a lot of people head to your site at the same time, you know it won’t crash or slow down.

Every business is finding that online means there are even more creative tools and techniques we can use to engage with audiences. The last thing any company wants to hear is that while they’re planning a big event with plenty of engagement, their site has gone down. A secure alternative like a Cloud Server which offers a bespoke solution for hosting along with guarantees for security and protecting from hackers and email viruses  means you can ensure that whatever idea is developed for engagement, you can support it online.

Learn more about Cloud Servers

How to: Become a Cloud Reseller

You don’t just have to buy in to the Cloud. You can sell it on as well. Intrahost offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to become resellers, to make money by offering cloud services to others.

There are few who would turn up their nose at a chance to earn some extra money, but like with any deal you want to know what’s involved. So what do you have to do to become a Cloud Reseller?

The strength of the Cloud as we see it is its bespoke ability to match the needs of any business or individual. Some many have different requirements on memory, disk space, CPU power, programming and software as well as operating systems. Deals that mix and match mean an agreement is much more cost-effective. The flexibility means that the technology you invest in works for you, rather than draining on your income.

A Cloud Reseller fits in by selling on cloud infrastructures and the resources available. They don’t need to own their own servers or data centres, instead they work with a provider like Intrahost to make the same cloud space available.

Whether a public, hybrid or private cloud essentially what the reseller is doing is becoming a middle man for the provider, in this case Intrahost and helping reach more customers. In the process they’re developing a new income strand. The reseller doesn’t need to make an investment is hardware or technology like virtualization which makes the cloud server a reality. Instead they make the Cloud instantly available.

Inevitably, though, while there aren’t risks there are things to think about. First of all what provider do you want to use? If you’re going to resell services to your own clients then you need to have faith in the product you’re selling. Intrahost works hard to deliver the best service it can, in terms of flexibility, security as well as a range of solutions.

You also have to know what you’re selling. For example, Intrahost hires staff that understand the technology inside and out. Ultimately this offers a better level of customer service as the opportunity is there for clients to tap into that knowledge if they have a query or a problem. A reseller needs to have the same level of understanding. If you don’t understand the product, neither will your customer and they will be less likely to sign-up.

If becoming a Cloud Reseller sounds like something you want to do then why not get in touch with Intrahost? An expression of interest isn’t the same as signing on the dotted line. You have to be able to trust your supplier if you’re going to resell their services so building up that relationship and starting by having a conversation is the best place to start.

Learn more about Cloud Servers

The revolution for web designers

There’s a revolution happening for web designers right now. HTML 5 is one of the most exciting developments for what designers will be able to offer clients. It’s a cross-platform mark-up language that will streamline and simplify the production of web content.

HTML, the web design standard, will usher in a new generation with its fifth incarnation due to drop in the next couple of years. Cross-platform programming, so removing the issue of sites looking different on the web, tablet or mobile, mobile device targeted so a more integrated and interactive offer for users as well as an open architecture making it easy to put your own stamp on the sites you build and an easier code making it feel less bulky will be a huge leap forward in online experience.

If you talk to a web designer right now, one of the big problems is the gap between creativity and delivery. Plug-ins like Flash and unwieldy and don’t work on every platform. You have to approach each job with a different set of tools. Imagine if a mechanic had to bring a different tool box to work on each car. They’d go crazy.

HTML5 will streamline all of this. Expect sites with video and audio integration, read a story, watch the video hear the audio on whatever device you’re using. The web will come alive.

While that revolution is taking place at the front end, another is happening at the back end. Cloud Computing, particularly web hosting using cloud servers for web designers will help them usher in a new mood in terms of online experience. The internet will be more personal. HTML5 will make it easier to interact and carry it with us on mobile device to mobile device with no restrictions on usability.

Using a Cloud Server a web designer can offer not only to design but to host a client’s site. Become a Hosted Exchange reseller and it becomes even easier to offer a client the opportunity to have their website cross-platform and cross-device. It’s personal and it’s bespoke, exactly in the same way HTML 5 is hoping to revolutionise web experience. You can scale the sites up, or you can scale them down meaning that cloud computing offers much more flexibility in terms of what you need.

A Cloud Server is a particularly elastic solution; chose the amount of space, CPU Power, memory depending on need. Security and support come as standard so in truth it will be like offering serviced office space online for your clients.

The developments in computing are creating a sea-change in how we interact with the web. The minute it became easier to have the Internet in our pocket via mobile devices it was inevitable that it would become more personal. HTML 5 will make the life of a web designer much easier and there is no longer any restraint on the creativity and integration they offer clients. At the back end being able to offer a similar approach using Cloud Servers means they can provide an holistic, interactive and bespoke service making the experience of web browsing more attuned to the needs of users.

How Cloud Computing is starting a boom for entrepreneurs

Those in the know in the tech world have been looking at trends. They examine how businesses are working, what technology they’re using and how it is affecting their working practice. These are people that don’t agree on much, but they do agree on this ; the 2010s are the decade of the Cloud. The report produced by the Software & Information Industry Association believes cloud computing is a game-changer, it has fundamentally altered business.

Which leads to an interesting question; if you haven’t adopted it, are you being left behind?

It can be easy for trend analysts to make you think that if you’re not using an up to date technology then somehow you must be in the dark ages. Yet in the same way the 90s brought us the internet, the noughties social media in our cash-strapped and recession driven era we seem to be opting for a business solution that helps cut costs and drives innovation.

Let me illustrate with a case study.

Say you’re a web designer in your early thirties. You spent your twenties working for one or two design agencies, but as you got older decided you wanted more flexibility and also to be the one doing the work AND making the money. So you went freelance.

As ever with running a business you constantly need to find new clients and provide innovative, yet cost-effective ways to work with them. As you need storage and disk space to get the work done you invest in a deal for a Cloud Server. Effectively you’re renting some space in a cloud on a physical server at a data centre, but you know your work is backed up, secured and you can expend or contract the space you’re renting as and when you need to. It means you can work from home, cutting costs, while maintaining a professional front. Your clients have no drop in service. You use a Hosted Desktop to work wherever you need to as well as technology like SharePoint to distribute content, update clients on projects and progress. You are able to manage your company from whatever screen you are in front of, utilising a server half a world away. You chose your provider carefully, wanting to ensure good customer service, cost, availability, security and flexibility. You felt they understood what you needed. Business is going well. In fact, the money you’re saving in terms of technological infrastructure you think might be invested in expansion, in hiring another member of staff who can use the same Cloud Server and technology, helping you take on more work.

The shared data concept is what is at the heart of the cloud and defines the technology that comes from it. The tech CEOs at SIIA said they believe cloud computing is heralding a decade long entrepreneurial boom. It has made it easier to start-up and build a company, as costs are so low. It has fundamentally shifted how we talk to clients and how we do our business. For small starters the possibilities are endless, to seize the opportunity and keep running.

Learn more about Cloud Servers

Why LinkedIn’s breach heightens importance of cloud security

It has been a tough week for social networking site LinkedIn. Forced to admit that over 3 million passwords were cracked and nearly six million unique passwords were grabbed from the site it has left users feeling shocked and confused. It also should be seen as a powerful lesson to anyone who works in the Cloud about the importance of asking the right questions for security, making sure the data stored is as safe as possible. There’s no suggestion that LinkedIn has done anything wrong but if you’re offering cloud services to clients, whether as a reseller or through your business – say if you’re a web designer hosting websites through a Cloud Server – you need to be able to answer question about your own security.

Hosting websites or information about clients is an important responsibility. If it’s part of your business then knowing the security in place by your provider is vital.

Take the example of Virtual Cloud Servers. Each sits on a physical server with a variety of different customers using them for different reasons. Each has their own resources and requirements and the deals and relationship they have with Intrahost is unique.

As well as being able to provide hosting facilities that meet their requirements, an important element of any business, security is always one of the first questions that’s asked. Many think cloud hosting will not be as secure as having a traditional hardware server sitting in front of you. In fact a Cloud Server offers additional mechanisms for security. The physical servers are based in a data centre which has the usual security access requirements like password entry and CCTV to protect the infrastructure. Network based security, including firewalls, disk arrays and protecting from spam and viruses are especially important. Intrahost understands the significance of protecting data and sees its responsibility as paramount for preventing any access that’s not allowed. The network is monitored 24/7 to make sure that any access attempt is logged, dealt with, prevented and then system set in place to warn off a repeat attack. There is multi-layered authentication on our systems. These services essentially mean there is layer upon layer of security that makes the data that you store for clients as secure as it can be possibly be.

It can be easy for end users to dismiss the need for data security. However they do so at their own risk. A big loss of data can damage a reputation as well as causing frustration for clients and customers. It should always be part of the business you understand best and can ensure it meets the standards you set for you own business.

Could the cloud protect you from the economy?

There’s been a sense amongst entrepreneurs and small business that if they’ve been able to grow over the past four years it’s been a bonus. Standing still, for many has been the aim. It’s been a challenging time but could investigating opportunities in the cloud help boost your business? News has been released about several small software firms who are planning to go public over the coming year. They include Atlassian and Tableau Software. Their aim is to take advantage of the growing trend for cloud computing adoption in the business world.

Increasingly, virtualization and Cloud Hosting is being seen as an income stream for these larger firms. Whether advertising, app creation, communication each of these companies has one thing in common; their services are based in the cloud. The sector itself is expected to grow to $288 billion this year and it’s being driven by entrepreneurs.

Admittedly, these are the kind of figures few of us will see and our corner of the market might be a tiny one, compared to the industry big hitters, but the approach is the same. Like every industry, technology changes rapidly. Facebook going public has showed the risks in place but also that there is potential if the focus is on winning over business investors, rather than trying to get the public on-side.

For freelancers, small business owners and contractors the approach is the same. Focus on offering more services to the business community itself and you shore up a revenue outlet for the future. Cloud Hosting offer an opportunity to host websites for example. The process of virtualization removes the need to rely on one single server. The traditional model of internet hosting the problem always was if the server goes down, so does the website. Effectively renting a corner of a cloud server can offer a cost-effective solution for a small business to offer a new service. Virtualization means the properties of the physical server hosting the Cloud, the processor, memory, drives etc, can be accessed independently. It offers a bespoke solution for a web designer or copywriter, say, who wants to be able to offer their clients something more. Hosting also means the possibility of a regular income stream, good for covering the down periods through the summer.

When the economy is up and down confidence is always an issue. If the big businesses adopt a new approach to weather the storm then small firms and entrepreneurs can take note and adopt the same approach. If the cloud offers new opportunities then they should be seized. The key to successful business is diversifying, not staying doggedly on the same path.

The four ways web design is easier in the Cloud

Cloud computing is changing how we use the web. It’s shifted how we hold information and where we store it. What does that mean for web designers? The cloud also offers an opportunity for web designers to streamline their work and develop a new flexible working practice.

This is a crude description but in essence, the internet is hosted on physical servers all over the world. Inevitably that limits space meaning there is a restriction on growth. For many years this was a real fear but the Cloud has minimised that risk. It promotes the ability to share resources and applications machine to machine. Virtualization, key in the development of Cloud Servers, allows you to “rent” space in the cloud.

It means you can run applications faster with the information coming back to you much quicker.

There’s a space for more powerful tools to run. For a web designer working on collaborative projects or working for clients it means they can explore new ways to get the job done and improve their service.

So if you’re a web designer working in the Cloud what apps should you be downloading?

Storage

Hosted Exchange and Hosted SharePoint improve collaboration and communication. It’s key if you want to manage projects successfully and minimise risk.

Many web designers will opt for online storage platforms like DropBox, Google Drive or Teambox if they are looking for a way to store their work and allow clients to view it.

In fact, it’s worth asking what the storage deal you get when you sign up with a provider. Some, like Intrahost, offer deals for unlimited information storage.

Coding

When exploring web hosting deals you always need to ask what programming features each package carries. If you use PHP you’d be pretty angry if your provider doesn’t host it. There are plenty of Cloud apps that make coding easier. Codeanywhere uses HTML, CSS, PHP or XML allowing web designers to explore how their coding looks. Firebug and Skywriter from Mozilla are both cloud based applications allowing you to tweak and alter coding while seeing the real-time effects. Another good toy is Google Playground which allows web designers to explore different APIs before they start using them on their sites.

Editing

Gone are the days when you need to download a large and expensive editing programme to your harddrive. The cloud allows the potential for using editing software on an ad hoc basis. Whether checking different fonts or colours, applications like Typetester and Adobe Kuler let you try a range of looks before choosing one.

If you work in CSS, Sandbox lets you tweak web functions and make edits. It allows a more flexible editing process that’s more cost-effective.

Talking to clients

Project Management is all about communication and while services like Hosted Exchange make that so much easier, in terms of sharing tasks, calendars and folders, you can team it with a project management app.

Both Draftboard and Jumpchat allow you to provide a sitemap of progress to clients, letting them know when their site will be ready.

Web designers have much to explore thanks to Cloud Computing. The service offered by providers allows them to test the flexibility on offer and the ability to make designing a website an easier and more collaborative project. Whether working one on one with a client or working as part of a larger team the cloud makes it simpler to share information and practice.

Cloud Servers are as flexible as our outlook

If there’s one buzz word likely to stay around after the recession is a mere memory it is this: flexibility. The last five years has been tough for a lot of businesses and many are feeling battered and bruised. But there’s one reason they should be proud. They got through it. And largely the companies that have survived have done so because they adapted to change and embraced new ways of doing things.

Flexibility became the calling card because individuals and firms learnt that they had to streamline to ensure they could embrace new opportunities as they came along. It is an approach that has not only changed practice but also mind-set. This generation of workers isn’t stick in the muds, instead they look for creative solutions to tackle any problems or challenges.

In terms of technology one of the key trends to emerge over the same period of time is the Cloud. Some might not have fully understood it at first but now it is changing the landscape and being adopted at a fast rate. It is the sense of flexibility that makes it even more popular. It gives people the freedom to work anywhere, to define their own computer system – whatever they need it for – to grow and store whatever they need, rather than relying on an infrastructure that is inherited and might slow you down.

Individuals face a lot of the same challenges as small companies and big business. They want to be able to save their money while continuing to do whatever they want. For an individual that might mean several different things. They might have opted to run everything as a one man band. There might be several different brands involved with different web domains but all are protected under one arch. Alternatively they could host several different sites for companies, developing a new revenue strand.

For both of these Cloud Servers are an increasingly popular solution because of their flexible approach. Austerity has left us feeling that we should be getting value for the things we spend money on. That doesn’t stop at IT. We want to be able to do more with less and make IT work for us, rather than be restricted by it.

Virtualization is a growing side of that and it is what makes Cloud Servers a reality. Sitting on top of a physical server it is virtualization that helps people rent the space online they need and define their usage in terms of power, memory and domains. It simplifies the whole process allowing individuals and even businesses to make the most of their storage and resources. It’s streamlined, meaning they can have a tighter control on their purse and are thus able to respond to opportunities quicker.

Flexibility has left many of us feeling we can have more control over our work and play. As online is a growing avenue of both it goes without saying that we want to extend that flexibility online. Cloud Servers, along with the wider principles of Cloud Computing help us explore how that flexibility can save us money while offering us the same comprehensive service.

Cloud Servers aren't just for big business

IBM has announced it is offering a new service for its “enterprise class” customers. The computing giant says it plans to park its mainframes in the Cloud. Essentially it means that the amount of downtime will be reduced by nearly a fifth which will make a big difference for any business wanting to use it's services and relying upon it for their infrastructure.

The service is likely to be more expensive, but for big companies that can afford it, it will  probably be a popular move.

However, again it seems to reinforce the message coming from the big developers and manufacturers that the Cloud is best for big business. It isn’t the case and different elements, such as Cloud Servers, for example, can offer a welcome opportunity to cut costs and build an entrepreneur’s empire without breaking the bank.

Cloud Servers provide an infrastructure that can grow or be squeezed depending on the needs of the individual or business. Say you’re setting up a small business on the side. It might be a product idea that you think could take off, but aren’t willing to give up the day job for; perhaps you host a podcast as a creative outlet; maybe you design websites for friends or local businesses as a side job. A Cloud Server offers scalability in terms of operating systems, flexible pay rates on a month by month basis that is based on how many servers you have, how much size you’re taking up in terms of memory and disk space as well as bandwidth.

You can opt to only rent the space month by month. So when there’s a lot of work on and you’re busy you might need more space. A quiet month and you can drop off. It’s not like having an expensive virtual office space that costs a fortune month in and month out, even if you’re not using it. More importantly you can sign up in hours. You get advice and support 24/7 and can develop a package that suits you.

Inevitably, for big business having a well-built infrastructure is important. It helps to cuts costs, to develop an IT system that suits the company, rather than a legacy system that takes time, energy and saps resources. In the current climate establishing a system that is as cost-effective as possible is a number one priority.

However, it isn’t only important to multi-national conglomerates.

Cloud Servers have the scalability that is also needed for freelancers, independent creative or budding entrepreneurs who need an infrastructure to start to build their project but don’t want to lay out a lot of money.