Although by no means a new technology, cloud computing retains the buzz as one of the latest innovative - and potentially transformative - elements of the industry. But there remains quite a bit of confusion about what exactly is meant by cloud computing, often making the question of whether or not your startup should be in the cloud difficult to answer.
Should you move (or launch) your startup into the cloud? Proponents of cloud computing will likely tell you unequivocally "yes." more entrenched IT forces may respond with an unequivocal "no."
Cloud Computing: Quick Definitions
There are three main categories of cloud computing.
Software as a Service (Saas): the most common use of the cloud, SaaS is also known as "software on demand." rather than downloading and running software locally, customers access the software via the Internet.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): As the name suggests, PaaS involves the delivery of a computer platform, with the ability to develop and deploy websites and services via the Internet.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): IaaS provides all the basic computing building blocks, but is the most complex choice. This does allow you build your platform and your services.
Five Things to Consider Before Moving to the Cloud
1. Your Needs: Just as you would have to assess your computing needs out of the cloud, moving to the cloud requires some planning. Do you need a provider that offers a lot of flexibility? What are your performance and availability expectations? Will you need additional support and services?
2. Your Budget Although you will save money by avoiding hardware investment, hosting for the cloud is not necessarily cheaper. As the cloud treats computing like a utility, you are billed as such: depending on your usage.
3. Scalability and Flexibility Although cloud computing makes scaling easier, the ability to launch new, larger servers (or shrink to smaller instances)
4. Security Security may be one of the main arguments naysayers make against the cloud, with fears that co-location in the cloud is more of a threat than co-located hardware in the server room.
5. Backup Nothing is foolproof, and simply because you're in the cloud does not mean you should forgo backups.
Despite the promise that cloud computing holds, you shouldn't go into the decision naively (just as, hopefully, you wouldn't make the same decision to buy a bunch of hardware without thorough research).
For ongoing and more in-depth cloud coverage, check out ReadWriteWeb's cloud computing channel, ReadWriteCloud.