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Web Hosting in 2012: An End of Year Review

January 02, 2013
by Staff Writer

Although 2012 was once again a tremendous year for the web hosting industry, any initiatives and revolutions that might have occurred in "traditional" web hosting were completely overshadowed by the growth of the cloud. Take a look at 2012's news stories, and it might seem that nothing else happened... Perhaps there's good reason for that.

Although the numbers are not yet in, Gartner, Inc. forecasted a 19.6 per cent growth in the public cloud services market in 2012, with earnings of a whopping $109 billion worldwide. But just what has driven such prolific growth?


The fact is the cloud is no longer the domain of techies and nerds - it is an item on the agenda of countless business meetings around the world where CFOs and CEOs talk about moving to a new 'pay-for-what-you-use' format that - potentially anyway - offers savings on email, software, payrolls, billing - and everything else a company does that its IT Department used to. Of particular note is communication and collaboration tools - in 2012 millions of business desktops moved from traditional email services and PC-based collaboration tools to cloud-based solutions (such Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps). Even towards the end of 2012, that trend seems to be on the up.

Good Press and High Profile Events

Another issue that might have fueled growth in the cloud is some amazing press. Everyone was glowing about the cloud. Even the European research organization Cern - the organization which manages the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland - declared an open source private cloud platform the most cost-efficient way to address its need for huge amounts of data. Such a high profile thumbs up has got to be good for business! In addition to good press, a series of high profile events such as Amazon Web Services' first user and partner conference (AWS re: Invent) in Las Vegas in November 2012 further helped raise cloud awareness. This year has seen numerous such conferences adding to the momentum of the cloud's growth.

Natural Disaster

Natural disaster also played a part in promoting the benefits of the cloud. Hurricane Sandy brought winds of up to 70 miles per hour to the east coast of America, knocking out IT infrastructure and bringing businesses to a halt. Companies like Ciao Bella Gelato were, however, proud to announce that after moving to EarthLink Cloud Hosting in September of 2012, they were able to remain open for business while power at its New Jersey facility was off for almost two weeks. Another thumbs up for the cloud.

Increased Services

As interest in the cloud increased, inevitably more and more providers started to provide cloud services, and this of course fuelled further competition. As providers tried to differentiate, there was a proliferation in the services provided. In 2012, just offering Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) quickly became old hat - to be cutting edge providers had to offer specialist services like Database as a Service (DBaas), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Security as a Service and Backup as a Service (BaaS).

Better Prices

With competition growing, the price of cloud services became even more attractive in 2012. Key cloud players Azure (Microsoft), AWS and Google forced the cloud towards being a commodity item by bringing down cloud storage service prices by between 20% and 28%. With almost any service you could think of available, and cost efficiencies being inevitable, businesses had even more reason to want to move to the cloud.


With all bases covered by cloud services, for most businesses it stopped being an issue of whether to move to the cloud, and became a decision on which cloud set-up (private, public or hybrid) was the right one for their needs alongside how to address transitioning a legacy infrastructure to the cloud.
But while the money men rubbed their hands in glee, it was the techies who had to figure this all out, and of course their first assignment was risk assessment.

In 2012 Amazon Web Services, a front runner in the cloud arena, had a number of issues that left customers perplexed. A data center outage in April and a further outage in June caused by electrical storms sent big players like Heroku, Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest into a bit of spin. Microsoft Windows Azure also suffered an outage around July, and on Christmas Eve another high profile glitch at Amazon stopped people from Canada to South America using Netflix services. People began to ask questions... If the cloud couldn't offer 100% guaranteed uptimes, wouldn't it be better to move back to the mass of traditional providers whose chief mantra was guaranteed uptime and unlimited resources?


Alongside outages, another headache for the techies was lack of cloud standardization. Although companies wanted to move to the cloud because of the efficiencies it promised, how could supplier lock-in be avoided? In addition, lack of cloud standards and interoperability made it difficult for users to experience the full benefit of the cloud. Although a 10-page buyer's guide called "CW Buyer's guide: Infrastructure on demand" which came out in 2012 (offering information on how to assess the needs of a business) addressed some of the issues regarding lack of standardization, these issues still need to be addressed.

End of Web Hosting?

Lessons learned in 2012 will clearly shape IT policy going into 2013, but despite the problems and the fact that the cloud is a work in progress, in 2012 the trend towards the cloud became an unstoppable force. It is now well on its way to being ubiquitous, and it is very likely that the bulk of that transition will take place in 2013. 2012 may well have seen the end of web hosting as we have known it.

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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