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Green Clouds: Key Web Hosting Trends in 2013

January 02, 2013
by Staff Writer

Whereas 2012 has been dubbed the 'Year of the Cloud', 2013 is equally as likely to be an important year in the cloud's development. Despite high profile outages that affected customers of some key cloud players in 2012, people's thirst for the cloud still seems insatiable. Analysts predict that over the next two years revenue related to cloud activity will grow by 200%. Other analysts are on record as suggesting Amazon Web Services alone should expect growth of 45% a year until 2018 - taking its cloud-related revenue from $2 billion to $20 billion in only 5 years.

Although movement towards the cloud appears inevitable, movement away from web hosting being perceived as a energy hungry, natural resource guzzling industry might not. Measures taken over the last 10 years have had some effect in changing people's views of the industry, particularly the adoption of alternative energy options and the implementation of carbon offsetting, but more needs to be done. If though, as some expect, the cloud will ultimately become a commodity impacting everyone's lives, then starting 2013 the industry will have to redouble its efforts to acquire green credentials.

The Cloud

With current and predicted levels of growth, it is clear that the cloud will ultimately impact everyone's lives. Businesses and governments will enjoy levels of efficiencies never seen before and although savings through a 'pay-as-you-use' model might be the immediate motivation for a move to the cloud, the cloud's ability to enhance business capabilities without increasing manpower or other costs will prove its most enticing feature in 2013. The cloud will though particularly impact those involved in web hosting. In short, the cloud promises to disrupt the entire IT industry in 2013.

Shift in the Web Hosting Paradigm

As far as web hosting is concerned, while 'Software as a Service' services like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps have shifted the software paradigm from an asset you own and manage yourself, to something you 'rent' and allow someone else to manage, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is irrevocably changing the 'data center' model of web hosting that has held solid for at least the last decade. Amazon Web Services is going so far as to propose the introduction of a Virtual Private Datacenter service in 2013.

What to Expect

If the cloud trend is inevitable, starting 2013 data centers will be purchased en masse so that their resources can be used to fuel the cloud's growth. This could be the start of the dismantling of web hosting as we currently know it. Although this might not all occur in 2013, ultimately, there will only be a handful of specialist web hosts who are not in the cloud. In addition, the cloud is likely to split into competing forces. Historically, major technologies have converged, often polarizing to establish rival options - Windows v UNIX/Linux, Betamax v VHS, PC v Apple, PHP versus ASP, Apple v Android v Windows 8, etc. This rule is equally likely to bear influence on the cloud, with no doubt Azure (Microsoft), Google and Amazon Web Services proving the ultimate benefactors. Look out for divergence to begin in 2013.

Integration and Software-defined Networking

If divergence begins in 2013, see integration becoming a major issue. Although the cloud offers the opportunity to support powerful apps, differing platforms might mean integration is going to be a major issue for apps developers. Likewise expect a growth in the cloud to spur growth in software-defined networking, where network administrators have control of traffic without having physical access to hardware devices.

Cloud Storage

The cloud would seem a perfect place to store all your data, and expect more data transition to the cloud in 2013. Individuals and businesses see the advantages of Dropbox, Google Drive and Skydrive adoption over passing data to physical third parties specializing in data storage, not least because of the cost - often cloud services are free for smaller amounts of data. Expect web hosts to start offering similar services in 2013.

Hybrid Cloud

Another thing to look out for in 2013 are Hybrid Clouds. Wikipedia defines Hybrid Clouds as "a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models." In short, they are networks that are configured so that they can utilize the cloud, but elements can operate without Internet connectivity. As a result, more traditional models such as using software on a computer rather than connecting directly to the cloud can apply. With such high-profile cloud outages in 2012, 2013 might see Hybrid Cloud integration as a compromise to ensure a workforce has continual access to the tools it requires.

Green Web Hosting

The need for web hosting to express itself as an eco-friendly industry has been apparent for a number of years now. Websites proudly showing images of banks and banks of shiny new servers operating in near zero conditions have underscored the industry's energy needs. Over the last decade the eco-credentials of web hosts has become more and more important to consumers. Often IT decisions are based on company policies which have environmental protection built in, and there is no sign that this trend is abating in 2013.

What to Expect

Carbon-offsetting, or buying renewable energy certificates, is a practice many web hosts have adopted over recent years, and this is very likely to continue in 2013. Some companies have installed solar panels to produce their own energy and move away from reliance on energy provided through national grids. Other web hosts have adopted telecommuting where staff actually work at home, meaning energy savings at the company premises and energy savings on travelling to work. Again, expect eco-friendly policies to become the norm amongst web hosts in 2013.

About Author’s editor team is packed with professional who have been in web hosting business for a decade. We aim to provide helpful articles that will help our users making informed decisions when selecting web hosts.

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