So what is the "Cloud" then?
The term Cloud has been very badly used in the great majority of cases. Most "cloud" computing is simply what used to be known as "web based". The service is hosted on a server, located in a server room, managed and updated by an IT admin. But now many people term this as "Cloud".
On the other hand, some websites are hosted on virtual servers, hosted in load sharing networks, where physical machines can provide their resource on-demand (on payment) to software, such as websites, to provide adequate performance. These virtual, load sharing environments are what the term "Cloud" used to refer to. With a potential Massive capacity, cloud computing can be partitioned as required. Basically, part of a physical server machine can "pretend" to be a whole server, or event parts of a number of connected physical servers can appear as a single machine.
The Cloud system was developed as a method of utilising more of a servers resource than the machine normally used on its own. But it adds a good deal of complexity that can be difficult to manage and, more importantly, extract your website from. Particularly if you have bought into a provided database service, commonly referred to as a Content Management System.
If a service is business critical, such as your web service, you may consider it more appropriate to own the physical server it is hosted on. That way, you can "touch" it and locate it with whatever host company you prefer. Recent examples of Cloud services closing down / going out of business have highlighted this wisdom!
Typically a server capable of hosting a powerful web service will cost in the region of £5k, with a three year warranty. That's £30 a week for the machine that will keep your business running. And it's not unusual to have them run for twice this period.
If you would like more advice on hosting services, please contact us.