Determining the right server solution for a business can be a daunting task, and cost is often a factor that plays a large role in a final decision. Cloud-based services offer many benefits, and often a low upfront price tag, but depending on your needs on-premise servers may be a better option.
There are many factors, outside of hard costs, that need to be considered when deciding between Cloud-based and on-premise servers. Each factor influences both hard and soft costs, and directly impacts your total cost of ownership and ability to meet the demands of your business.
One of the biggest advantages of the Cloud is the ability to bring a server online within minutes. Many platforms, including Microsoft Azure, offer a variety of server configurations for various types of workloads. From general purpose servers, to ones highly optimized for storage, memory, or compute power, you have the ability to make resources available with a very short turnaround time.
The right technology partner can set up an on-premise server with the same specs, or even ones better suited to your needs relatively quickly, but if you need a rapid turnaround the Cloud is the best choice.
Existing and Anticipated Demand
Businesses are dynamic by nature, and the most successful are able to anticipate and adapt to change. Having a clear understanding of both your existing and anticipated resource demand will be valuable information when deciding between Cloud and on-premise servers.
The ease at which Cloud-based servers can scale resources often makes them a great fit for workloads that may fluctuate or cannot be predicted over a period of time. In most cases, the addition of memory, storage space, and compute power can take place in a matter of minutes.
Utilizing Cloud-based servers for common office workloads will likely require additional Internet bandwidth, so a proper evaluation of existing and anticipated Internet usage needs to be considered as well. Depending on the nature of the data and applications being used, a backup internet connection may be required to ensure that connectivity interruptions do not slow down or halt business operations.
If you have a clear picture of your existing demand, and what can be expected in the future, an on-premise solution may be a better fit with a more predictable cost and no need to review Internet usage with relation to the server’s workload.
Depending on regulatory needs your business may be subject to, you may be required to use on-premise servers instead of the cloud. The financial impact of being in non-compliance can be staggering, and even cause a business to close its doors.
Cloud-based offerings with compliance requirements are beginning to become more available though, and certainly is an option to explore. One provider we work with, VM Racks, has an entire array of services that are HIPAA compliant while still being as flexible as standard Cloud offerings.
Server Maintenance and Support
The proper maintenance and support for any server, whether hosted in the Cloud or locally in your office, are where many soft costs begin to add up.
In the case of on-premise servers, you need to ensure that the environment they are being housed in has adequate cooling and airflow, humidity detection, redundant power, and physical security to limit access. If you do not already have these controls in place, the Cloud is likely a better option.
The biggest advantage of the Cloud? No hardware maintenance.
The lack of physical devices, along with the infrastructure to support them makes the Cloud a very attractive option if you do not have a dedicated space to house your servers. Even better, you don’t need to dedicate time to hardware maintenance, and can benefit from many redundancies that are inherent to Cloud-based servers.
Both choices will require staff, or a technology partner like Valiant Technology, with the expertise to manage your servers, proactively combat problems, and ensure that the available resources meet your workload.
Best of Both Worlds
There is no need to choose between cloud and on-premise servers for your business. In fact, many businesses take advantage of both by implementing a hybrid strategy that includes both cloud and local resources, choosing the proper solution for each of their needs.
Resource-intensive applications may perform well in the Cloud, gaining the ability to scale as needed, while systems that store large amounts of data that must be accessed rapidly are housed locally – and backed up to the Cloud as part of a data protection strategy.
The first step in formulating a hybrid approach for servers is to fully understand your current needs, and what to expect in the future. Valiant’s IT Assessment process was designed to provide a full picture of a business’s technology; it’s current state, issues that may need remediation, and a stable plan for future growth.
With the right plan in place, the benefits of a properly designed network architecture will provide your business with the ability to adapt to changing conditions in a predictable manner, letting you focus less on the technology and more on your business.