A prospective new client asked me recently which was better: a local server or a hosted server? That’s a big question.
First of all, if anyone tells you that one or the other is “always” better, run. This simply isn’t true and the person is not to be trusted. Which solution is best for you is a complex topic.
Your technology provider should start by explaining the differences of each option as they pertain to your specific business. Just because one company chooses a hosted server doesn’t mean it is right for everyone.
Let’s take a quick look at the major differences of hosted versus local servers and how they may affect your business.
In a hosted environment, you have a private virtual server. That virtual server will run on equipment that is shared with other clients. The quality and capability of the equipment is usually far better than what a typical small business can purchase for itself. In addition, the hosted environment can withstand significant equipment failure. This server can continue to provide applications and data, and you may not even know there was a failure along the line.
This level of backup can be implemented locally, but the expense of doing so is significant. This means that for smaller companies, a hosted environment is attractive.
Additionally, a hosted server solution typically includes office licensing, email, backups, maintenance and more. It’s a turn-key solution that is based on a set monthly fee per user.
So why would you want a local server?
Most companies have a significant amount of capital invested in equipment, office licensing and the like. If your local servers are fairly new and in good shape, there is no reason that an experienced IT company can’t maintain a reliable local infrastructure for you. If your local network is stable, your monthly expenses to maintain your local network will be lower than the monthly cost to move to a hosted server.
Admittedly, we’re not necessarily comparing apples to apples, but maintaining what you already have will most likely be cheaper.
Larger companies in particular can afford to maintain local servers at a cheaper rate than moving everything to a hosted server. While it’s hard to state an exact cutoff, I recommend a 15 to 20 or more user count being the breaking point. The lower the number of users you have, the more likely it is that the hosted route is best for you.
Security is a hurdle that some have a hard time clearing when it comes to hosted servers. I get it. Having all your data elsewhere can be unnerving. But if you do your research and are sure the hosting company is reliable and has a proven track record, you should not fear. Ask the company questions about its infrastructure and get plenty of references. With the right hosting provider, your data is actually more secure than it is in your office.
The last major consideration is Internet bandwidth and the overall reliability of your circuit.
With a hosted server, if there isn’t strong Internet connectivity, your users can’t work. Also, the more users you have means the more bandwidth you need. With 10 or more users, your needs are beyond the basic Internet packages. This is another expense you must consider. An important point to remember when it comes to hosted servers is if your office Internet is down, your employees can still work from home or even a coffee shop.
There are many other features that a hosted environment can offer you; there are also other benefits to local servers. Having a trusted technology partner who can help you list out the pros and cons is critical to determining your best solution.
There’s a reason why so many organizations look to Atlantic Computer Services for the IT support they need to grow their business, and that’s because ACS provides honest, reliable, knowledgeable and friendly service. The company's goal is to serve as a technology partner, offering solutions that are affordable, uncomplicated and in the best interest of each individual client. Learn more about ACS, its services and its people at www.acs-ilm.com, or call (910) 799-6538.
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