Go to the real cloud, don’t be fooled by ‘cloud-painting’!

Considering going to the cloud? Great! But don’t be fooled by the wide variety of services available these days. Cloud services are frequently mixed up with hosting services, or with third party cloud services. The reason behind these misleading offerings are the hosting providers rebranding their traditional hosting offerings with a ‘cloud’ labelled service, or by reselling someone else’s cloud. But exploiting the capabilities of cloud go far beyond what hosting providers offer. True cloud providers use their talent and deep expertise to build and maintain cloud solutions across different premises with multiple levels of redundancy. So, don’t be fooled by ‘cloud-painted’ services. Let me give you five fundamental characteristic that differentiate moving a workload to the cloud versus moving to a hosting provider (or fake cloud provider).


Ownership and Expertise

A first fundamental characteristic of true cloud provider is cloud ownership and cloud expertise. True cloud providers own the cloud infrastructure and have the expertise to build and manage the environment. This results in compliance with legislation, immediate and smooth updates, minimized downtime, and an up-to-date security implementation. The global scale of deployment guarantees the ability to scale according to the needs, without risk of having to over-provisioned or under-provisioned capacity in your contract. Hosting providers (or fake cloud providers) rely on third parties and third party software tools, and therefore having delayed updates, slow customizations, etc.


A second fundamental characteristic of cloud is the ability to exploit the elasticity of the cloud environment. A true cloud provider offers capacity in a very dynamic way, typically charged by time and capacity. By using autoscalers and load balancers you can keep the cost to a minimum of a low used environment, but in case of increase of workload you can guarantee responsiveness to the end user whilst aligning your spending with the workload. Hosting providers typically sell a reserved capacity, meaning you pay for unused resource during low usage and you are capped in capacity during peak usage. This results in degrading responsiveness in case of unplanned usage peaks.

Contract duration

A third fundamental characteristic of cloud is the duration of engagement with the cloud providers. True cloud providers typically charge capacity by hour or by month and have a monthly billing cycle. The contractual terms is typically a single month, with an automatic monthly renewal. This enables to allocate resources for a short period of time, or to move workload to an alternative environment (e.g. a private cloud) when appropriate. Hosting providers typically apply much longer contractual terms which allows them to guarantee the return on investment of the infrastructure, resulting in an inflexible environment.

Global deployment

A forth fundamental characteristic of cloud is the ability of having a global deployment. True cloud providers operate on a global scale, they have multiple points of delivery spread over different geographies and countries. Deploying applications in different geographies becomes easy, as you can spread the deployment over the different cloud data centers from the cloud management console. Though you might think you do not need a deployment outside of your own country if you operate only in your own country. It can be beneficial to look at the possibilities cloud providers offer and compare from a cost perspective the spread of workload across borders. Hosting providers might have different datacenters, providing the ability to go global is frequently a serious challenge for them.

Backbone network

A fifth fundamental characteristic of cloud is the backbone network. True cloud providers manage and operate their own backbone network across the globe. Management of the backbone network allows optimization of the network usage and results in low latency of traffic over the network. This reduced latency increases the user experience to the best level possible. Hosting providers connect to third party network providers, being unable to optimize the network usage, and being dependent on their service in case of incidents.

So, next time you think about moving to the cloud pay attention to these points when evaluating cloud providers. Don’t be fooled by ‘cloud-painting’ of traditional services.