New Server vs. The Cloud?

Whats right for your business?

As a small business owner in today’s world there are a lot of decisions to be made regarding technological investments. One of the largest investments that is commonly made is the purchase of an internal server. Recently the use of cloud computing (an Internet connection to large servers hosted in a different geographical area) has emerged as a viable alternative to the classic server configuration. Often cloud computing is presented as the better and more innovative choice for businesses, but this view may not encompass the preferences of all small businesses. If you are considering an upgrade, it is worth reviewing the benefits and costs of cloud computing and servers listed below before making a decision for your business.

Benefits of the Cloud

The innovations made by cloud computing are truly impressive. By utilizing off-site servers (the Cloud), you have no technological responsibilities and are spared all of the stress of server management. The monthly fee per user is generally lower than the annual salary of an on-site IT specialist, and the multiple servers involved in the Cloud provide reliable service and mobile access anywhere with an internet connection. This makes the Cloud a fantastic investment for small companies that operate multi-nationally, rely on internet programs and communication and who want to be a part of current and future technological innovations.

Limitations of the Cloud

While making use of the Cloud may be cost-effective for companies large enough to have a full-time IT professional on the payroll, it may be too expensive for companies who currently handle any IT concerns by periodically contracting work out to a trusted company. As well, for small businesses that do not have a reliable Internet connection, or who do not generally use the Internet for their day-to-day business the Cloud may not be the best option. Finally, businesses that handle highly sensitive client information may not wish to entrust this information to a third party, even though Cloud storage makes information security a priority.

Benefits of an In-House Server

In-house servers have been the standard for the last decade, and the presence of the Cloud doesn’t negate their usefulness! Having an on-site server gives the business owner complete control, and still allows for the use of some cloud-based programs such as Dropbox. While it incurs a large start-up cost, a one-time payment for an in-house server may be more cost-effective for than a monthly subscription fee that has no end-date – especially if the small business does not currently employ a salaried IT professional.

Limitations of an In-House Server

In-house servers have been doing their job effectively for a long time, and as such there are not a lot of obvious limitations that have not already been discussed. However, it is important to consider the worldwide shift towards cloud-based computing, especially with respect to the ease of worldwide data sharing and employees who may work from remote locations. If your business does not have any ties to the technology field it is unlikely that this will affect you over the course of your next server’s lifetime. On the other hand, if your small business is trying to make it in the technology field this might be an excellent time to align your business with others in the field.

When it comes to choosing what direction to go for your small business there really is no one-size-fits-all solution. Both cloud-based and in-house servers are excellent methods of   sharing data and programs within a company but the cost-benefit ratio of each method will differ based on your individual needs. As a general rule, small companies who have few IT requirements and who do not work in the technology field will likely have no regrets upgrading to a new in-house server. However, companies involved in the technology field, who have long-distance employees or who require large amounts of reliable computing power will likely enjoy placing any and all server concerns into someone else’s hands.

Making technological decisions that have an impact on your business’future can be stressful, especially in a situation like this where there may not be an obvious best solution for your needs. Contacting your IT professional is a great step to take in these situations, as they will be able to discuss your company’s individual needs with you. Beyond that, they will also be able to help you evaluate the financial and technological impacts of switching to the cloud in your industry.

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