Emil Sayegh

Aug 7, 2015

How to Choose the Right Cloud Size for Your Needs

The cloud has caused a revolution in the technology market and has upended the way businesses roll out applications, aggregate and process data, and more. When talking about cloud application, platform development, and adoption, it all comes down to value.

Visionary tech leaders are the ones introducing the cloud to their businesses, as they understand its real-world implications and application. Cloud innovation is identifiable in distinct development phases that start with ideas and roll into production. These same leaders are the ones called upon, once the cloud has been adopted, to do the heavy lifting and make sure the cloud works for the organization – not the other way around. They do this by ensuring their cloud setup is the right choice, the right size, and the right price.

A recent study (referenced here) showed that:

  • 44 percent of companies moved infrastructure or applications from one public cloud to another.
  • 25 percent moved from a public cloud to a private cloud.
  • 24 percent moved from a public cloud back to an on-premise system.

With so many choices available, finding the right cloud and the right provider can seem daunting. What may be right for one of your websites or applications may not be right for another. To satisfy many requirements, the right decision is critical.

For example, you need to consider what type of site or application you’re running. Are you hosting a large database? Does your project have dynamic needs (such as big data and analytics)? Or are you simply launching a basic website? Maybe your project is a mixture of these elements. Maybe it features large file transfers, high CPU demands, rapid scaling, or flexible workloads. The list of considerations piles up quickly!

It helps to roll through the decision process in phases and address a few questions.

Cloud Size

1. Sizing Your Project

The most important step in choosing the right cloud size for your needs is figuring out exactly what your needs are. Where do you stand? What do you aim to do with your new website or application? There are a few baseline questions to answer before you do anything else.

Bandwidth: What type of work translates into what size?

  • How many visitors does your site get?
  • Does your business require large file transfers?
  • Does it approach 5TB a month incoming and outgoing?
  • Do you approach something more like 20TB incoming and outgoing?

It’s important to answer these questions for your short-term timeline while also planning for growth. Your level of traffic and frequency of file transfers will dictate the bandwidth your cloud instance requires. Typically, a cloud plan will “scale” or grow with your traffic, but you need to ensure the chosen provider offers pricing on bandwidth that fits your current and future needs.

Storage: How much storage or disk space do you need?

  • Do you host a database in the cloud?
  • Do you use your cloud server for static file storage or backup?

If you’re going to store data that’s more static and doesn’t require high compute power to process data rapidly for an application, your storage shouldn’t be a huge investment. Find a cloud solution with enough storage included or a storage-only plan with plenty of space at the right price.

Compute Power: Do you expect this site or app to process a lot of data in the cloud?

Review your application model:

  • Many mobile apps, data streaming, API interfaces, and data collection apps process cumulatively at the cloud level.
  • Data must be transferred between nodes, app layers, and collection points.

If you need to process large amounts of data, keep in mind that this requires disk space and a reliable, fast network. When it comes to processing complex operations, you may want to consider adding a dedicated server to your infrastructure via a hybrid hosting configuration. This may add complexity to your environment, but it will provide the desired results for application performance.

Step 2: What features do you want/need?

While seeking the right cloud for your needs, you also must choose one you’re comfortable using. Making the right choice in terms of your interface, OS, and more goes a long way toward making your website the best it can be.

What type of software do you run on your cloud server?

  • Is your site or application PHP based?
  • Is it an .ASP or Windows-based application?

It is mandatory and critical to select the right OS platform. Whether it’s Windows, CentOS, or another version of Linux, you need to choose the right OS to create the optimal environment for your application or site.

Your provider should be able to walk you though this process and steer you in the right direction if you’re unclear on which OS works for you.

What type of interface do you want to manage your cloud with?

  • An SSH terminal.
  • A web interface.
  • A control panel (specifically to manage your cloud resources and website/app activity).
  • Classic Windows UI.

This comes down to comfort and productivity. Which interface empowers you to meet your demands as quickly and efficiently as possible? Not every cloud platform is compatible with every control panel option, so make sure your cloud vendor offers the access and control you need.

Do you want to pay for cloud monthly or hourly?

  • Monthly costs typically provide an overall price advantage that discounts usage based on the monthly commitment.
  • Hourly costs may work in your favor if your project usage tends to run in peaks and valleys rather than a consistent workload.

This is definitely worth considering and running the numbers before committing one way or the other. The upside here is that your vendor should offer the ability to change payment methods easily should you find the need to switch.

How much support do you need?

  • If you’re an expert, you should be fine in a self-managed environment running your cloud instances via an API.
  • If you’re less savvy, you need a provider that can help along the way.

Cloud providers run the gamut from fully managed cloud to non-managed cloud hosting. The main difference here is that managed cloud providers will have a support team available to answer your questions about setup, performance, and best use cases. Non-managed providers will support your hardware and network, and they will alert you if there is an outage, but that’s typically the extent of the involvement for non-managed providers.

3. Do you need hybrid hosting?

Hybrid Hosting

Hybrid hosting connects dedicated and public cloud resources through a private network and lets you control everything through a single control panel or API. Hybrid hosting has been projected to capture 15% of the market, which means it’s here to stay – and a worthwhile consideration when figuring out the right cloud size for your needs.

Does your project have any workloads that require dedicated I/O?

  • Are you looking for a hosting solution for big data needs?
  • Do you want a space solely dedicated to databases?

As noted before, dedicated server workloads are the stuff of database applications, high processing, and space utilization. These are better set on a dedicated product, most often within a hybrid stack.

Do you plan to link a dedicated server to your cloud?

  • If so, ensure your provider enables hybrid hosting internally or through another provider.
  • Ideally, your provider will have an optimized network for hybrid hosting environments.

Hybrid hosting enables future growth and strategic cloud architecture by linking your dedicated servers and cloud instances. Segmented but unified architecture protects your data and prioritizes your resources on-demand. If you have needs for a highly responsive database, consider hosting it on a dedicated server that’s connected to your cloud front end through hybrid hosting or a private connection.

Step 4: Make your choice!

After figuring out the size of your project (in terms of traffic, purpose, and data processing), the features you want (software, OS, interface), and whether or not you want to enable hybrid hosting, choosing the right size cloud should be easy.

After selecting your cloud, you must decide whether or not you have need for a dedicated server. Hosting a dynamic database that needs to be accessed often and consistently process data on public cloud instances is not really feasible. It would be a potential catastrophe waiting to happen due to I/O constraints on clou instances. Hybrid hosting is a worthwhile consideration because of its exclusive compute power, memory, and raw speed that ensures your data is processed quickly and efficiently.

Finally, the importance of planning for your company’s future can’t be overstated enough. Your company is starting out today, but you expect to grow 6, 9, 18 months down the line. Do you want to migrate again, or would you prefer a solution that can grow with you? Make your cloud choice wisely. If you need guidance making your choice, talk to a hosting expert today.

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