Creative agencies can run and scale their digital projects in the cloud...

Creative agencies can run and scale their digital projects in the cloud with full control

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By Greg Rusu general manager of Zunicore, PEER 1’s cloud division

The cloud has dramatically reduced the capital required to innovate across every sector.But for all the promise of utility computing via the cloud, many creative agencies – including web designers and developers, marketing agencies and ad agencies – are struggling to realise the benefits. They have found themselves struggling to quickly and cost-effectively manage on-demand computing resources to serve a global audience.

Those in the creative agency fields have to adjust their business models to keep pace with technology changes. For web designers and developers, traditional desktop software will eventually be replaced by cloud applications. Licensing will change to a pay as you go model and investment will be made in this rather than existing desktop software like Adobe’s product suite.

Though agencies by nature like to focus on the product they create, not the delivery method, the internet has forced them to change their business models. They’re now responsible for generating demand and fulfilling it. And today demand generation almost always has an online and thus, strong viral component. In other words, a campaign can instantly take off on Facebook or via Twitter or YouTube and unexpectedly drive more traffic than anticipated. When that happens, the agency needs to ensure that its client’s website can handle the spike. Unfortunately, many agencies fail to rise to this challenge and instead stand by helplessly as the website scales beyond the client’s allocated spend. Many more are forced to over-invest in computing resources ahead of time as a fail-safe measure. Either way, they end up watching their immediate profit margins and long-term profitability erode.

This element of risk has become part and parcel of the agency model. In other words, clients now expect agencies to do more than come up with a creative idea and write code; they expect them to handle every aspect of a campaign, including delivering the campaign and microsite, and ensuring any online component supports millions of site visitors without fail.

The key to tapping into the subscription-based revenues enabled by web-related offerings such as hosting and search engine optimization (SEO) is to efficiently and economically deploy infrastructure to support campaigns and promotions. After all, tremendous revenues are at stake.

At its core, the utility aspect of cloud computing promised to help creative agencies deal with the unpredictable nature of their business model and deploy and use infrastructure on an as-needed basis – without much planning or forethought. But the cloud hasn’t fulfilled the promise. In reality, it’s almost as complicated to bring up a cloud instance as needed as it is to become a hedge fund manager. There is a lack of control, inflexibility, over-complexity, difficult to use scaling tools, unreliability and poor visibility.

All of these issues combined mean that developers end up spending tremendous resources – notably in time and IT management – to launch and run their campaigns and programs in the cloud. As a result, a failed campaign can tie up valuable resources with little or no return for clients, while a winning campaign can easily exceed available resources, leading to financial failure for the agency.

A need surfaced for a solution to specifically address the needs of creative agencies with unique and changing technology requirements as they launch varying products on the web. Web developers and designers should be able to instantly deploy feature-rich and optimised cloud infrastructure and automatically scale those computing resources to support their campaigns and programs within an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. We feel we have achieved this with Zunicore, the new cloud division of PEER 1 Hosting.

A fully user-controlled environment including customisable resource pools allows users to increase or decrease the size of their pool, or add virtual machines based on their business needs. This type of control also provides Overdraft Protection against the users hosting cost. Persistent storage area network storage is more reliable and less susceptible to data loss and offers higher performance than local storage devices, which also incur additional costs. Hands-free autoscaling allows users to specify how much they want to scale their resources based on user-defined thresholds such as technical resources, cost or both. This makes over or under-investment a thing of the past.

We aim to offer creative agencies an unprecedented level of functionality so they can focus on their business and not on the IT delivery vehicle. In other words, the service is simple and intuitive to use and not a drain on the time and resources of in-house IT people. As a result, they can now confidently launch programs designed to generate unprecedented levels of traffic for their clients.