If you read our last post on business continuity planning, you know that a failed server can have catastrophic effects on your business. But let’s assume you already have a sound business continuity plan in place, and you know what you’re going to do if that server fails. What should you consider when it comes to choosing the right server for your business in the first place?
The biggest decision is whether to have a cloud based or in house server infrastructure. While it may sound like a black-or-white selection, there are many things to consider. The first factor is how important uptime is to your business. Cloud solutions are usually more expensive than in house, but the benefits of being in the cloud can far outweigh the costs for some businesses. For example, an online business that is reliant on web-based transactions will consider uptime an extremely important factor; therefore, they will likely be willing to pay more for a cloud based solution that can guarantee a certain level of uptime. Other businesses not as dependent on uptime may be more suited to an in house set up.
Here are some pros and cons of cloud vs in house servers.
Pros and cons of cloud servers
|No need for onsite hardware or capital expenses. Well suited to rapidly growing companies that may outgrow their infrastructure too quickly.||The user experience is limited by the speed of the Internet connection.|
|Easily scalable; can be added to as needed. Solutions are often on-demand, so you only pay for the options you want.||Third party cloud services could have direct access to your data.|
|Workers can connect from anywhere, using any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Companies can implement BYOD (bring your own device) policies.||If the Internet goes down on your side or on your cloud provider’s side, you won’t have access to any of your information.|
|Data can be backed up in the cloud as regularly as 15-minute intervals, minimizing data losses in disaster situations.||The costs can outweigh the benefits for companies not as dependent on uptime.|
Pros and cons of in house servers
|Gives you physical control over your server.||Requires a capital investment in hardware and infrastructure.|
|Keeps critical data in-house; no third party has access to your information.||Requires space in your office for rack space or a server room/closet, as well as dedicated IT support.|
|No need to rely on an Internet connection for access to data.||May be more susceptible to data loss during disaster situations due to in-house location. How often you take the data offsite will reflect how much data you’ll lose in an emergency.|
|Can be more cost-effective for companies that are not as concerned about uptime.||No uptime guarantees.|
As you can see, there are many pros and cons under each setup. For this reason, SysGen often recommends a hybrid model to clients – meaning a combination of both in house and cloud based solutions. Going hybrid gives clients the best of both worlds. Having some in house server hardware can be suitable for companies that do not want to rely on the Internet. And at the same time, businesses can reap the benefits of a cloud solution, such as Microsoft Exchange email, to allow users to connect from anywhere with a high degree of uptime. SysGen actually guarantees 99.99% uptime to its clients with cloud based email.
A hybrid server model also gives companies greater data security. For example, with a SysGen hybrid model, clients can back up their data to an onsite server as well as a cloud solution. SysGen’s backup solution partner, Datto, introduces next-gen backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity solutions. Read more about backup solutions in our blog post, “Five key questions to ask about your backup solution”.
Here’s an example of a SysGen hybrid model. As you can see, the client has an onsite server with local backup storage. Employees access their desktops, applications, files, printers, and email from the office using the local network. At the same time, data is backed up for redundancy to a cloud based solution, and email is entirely in the cloud with Hosted Microsoft Exchange. The cloud configuration also gives employees anywhere access to their desktops, applications, files, printers, and email. (Click the photo to enlarge it).
The hybrid model seems to be on trend with what’s happening in the IT industry in general. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, tech’s future may lie in the “fog” rather than the cloud. In other words, cloud solutions are great, but businesses may not want to have everything “out there” in the cloud. Some solutions will still need to be kept in house or on device, closer to the ground. For many companies, the best configuration will be somewhere in between, which the article refers to as “the fog”.
Either way – cloud, ground, or fog, SysGen can help you determine the right set up to meet your specific business needs. Contact us to support your Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer or Vancouver-based business anytime!