If you want to create an Umbraco website but you are unsure where to host it, you should consider Umbraco cloud.  The price is fairly reasonable and it will take a lot of headaches away from you.  If this sounds good, then read on to learn more.

Why Cloud Hosting?

Cloud hosting is gaining more and more momentum. Umbraco Cloud (formally known as Uaas (Umbraco As A Service)) is a managed service provided by Umbraco to host your website in the cloud. This term of 'managed service' seems to confuse a lot of people.  

Traditionally, to host an Umbraco website you would need a server.  Your website might be the only website on that server (dedicated), or, your website might run alongside several other websites (shared). Microsoft based servers can be expensive to run, especially as most dedicated web servers sit idle the majority of the time waiting for people to use the website.  With traditional hosting, you usually end up paying for a server that you never fully utilize.  

Most production servers I've come across usually consume a maximum of 25% of the server resources at peak times! The other side of the coin is that when your web server is too busy and you need extra bandwidth, adding an additional server into the mix to share the load between multiple servers, takes too long! If you have a Black Friday sale for instance, you may need 10 servers to cope with the load, but for the rest of the year they sit there idle, costing money!

Setting up a server takes time.  How secure does the site need to be, do you need to install an HTTPS certificate, how are you going to manage logging etc.. If, for whatever reason you suddenly need additional servers this process can take hours/days/weeks. How long does server maintenance take? When do you plan your Windows updates etc... Microsoft recognized these issues a few years ago and provided Azure, a cloud hosting option to help alleviate these issues.  For those unfamiliar with Azure, all it really is a cut down 'virtual' version of Windows running somewhere in the world.  With Azure you don't have access to the server directly, you simply push your code changes onto it and then Microsoft manages everything for you.  As Azure is virtual, you pay less in hosting.  Instead of paying for a beefy server that sits idle, your website is hosted on a VM whose resource, like memory can be changed dynamically, based on your current load. U

Umbraco, like any normal ASP.NET website, can run under Azure and it doesn't need any special Umbraco only configuration for you to do this yourself.  You can go to Microsoft, purchase an Azure plan, install Umbraco yourself locally and push it up on to your Azure account and have Umbraco website hosted in the cloud.

Umbraco Cloud, however, is not just simply running your website on a virtual server...  Umbraco Cloud takes this one step further.  Like Episerver DXC, instead of you having to set-up Umbraco in Azure, Umbraco will do it for you.  This is where the term 'managed service' comes from.  Umbraco Cloud isn't a new product or a new type of cloud hosting.  Anything you can do on Umbraco cloud you could do on your own. Instead, Umbraco Cloud should be thought of as a hosting package provided directly by Umbraco.

What Do I Get With Umbraco Cloud?

With Umbraco cloud, you get two Azure environments.  One server to do all of your development and testing on, and one server that will act as a live website. Umbraco Cloud portal.  This portal is where you can manage your Umbraco environments.  In the cloud portal, you get access to an instant help feature that connects directly to Umbraco Cloud support staff. Minor Umbraco updates will also be automatically applied to your website. If you're wondering you'll get your code into the cloud...  Umbraco Cloud will also automatically set up a Git source control for when you sign up.  You can then simply connect to it, using SVN tortoise, or Sourcetree, download the project and start developing straight away! As Umbraco cloud is a managed service, like all services it comes with a price tag.  Luckily, it's actually fairly cheap!


Umbraco Cloud Takeaway

Umbraco Cloud is a great hosting option for certain companies and people.  If you want to create an Umbraco website, but don't want to maintain the server yourself, then this could be a good fit for you. Like all managed services, this isn't a service that will be a good fit for every project.  

Most of my clients are SMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) and in a lot of instances, those companies have own, or rent servers, load balancers, WAFs etc..  If a company already has servers, then Umbraco Cloud could be less attractive. I'm currently working with a client that's in this position, who have still decided to deploy to go with cloud hosting.  Cloud hosting will free their IT staff up, people will no longer have to perform server maintenance over the weekend, and their disaster recovery needs are also met, so it's still preferable over traditional hosting.