Does a Server in the Cloud Fit Your Strategy?

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businessman drawing Cloud computing concept designShould your business server reside in the cloud? As we continue our exploration of the cloud in our blog series, we’re helping clients think through the decision by reviewing some key factors. Gene Marks, a contributor at Forbes magazine, has many valid points in his article, Do you replace your server or go to the cloud?

  • What are the cost benefits?
  • How reliable is the cloud?
  • How will the cloud support our mobility strategy?

What are the cost benefits?

An important point to know about traditional server hosting is that the average lifespan of a dedicated computer is typically five to six years. After that, the hardware becomes outdated and less reliable and often needs replacing. Depending on your infrastructure, this can be quite a costly rotation.

In addition, application demands frequently outgrow hardware, which then may require additional processors, storage and memory. These upgrades involve more equipment, labor and potentially a loss of productivity—all additional costs. When comparing this scenario to a cloud environment, deploying additional resources can be easily made with just a few configuration changes.

How reliable is the cloud?

As I discussed in my blog How to know if cloud email is for you, reliability is another major benefit when looking at cloud servers. Has your business experienced power outages or times when the Internet went offline? Has there been any instances of hardware failure where you had to wait for a part to be delivered? All of these factors affect the average up-time.

With cloud hosting, most providers boast a 99.999 percent availability to their data center. If you’ve suffered through an outage when facing a deadline, you can certainly appreciate the importance of reliability.

How will the cloud support our mobility strategy?

Several years ago, cloud was the buzzword for the next big thing in IT. Experts were frequently referencing technology we’re seeing today—a massive push to the cloud. Only a few years ago, someone would be considered an early adopter by moving their server. Today, it is a mainstream business decision. In a few years, those who still have a local program will be considered a late adapter.

Now the buzzword is mobility and Microsoft is building their entire platform around it. Mobility needs will lean heavily on cloud infrastructure and storage. Organizations looking to take advantage of the mobility movement will need to be prepared with a cloud strategy. The ability to work from multiple devices in multiple environments will heavily lean on its flexibility and availability.

There will always be industries facing restrictions where cloud server hosting may not be a fit. For all the others, I would encourage companies with systems three or more years of age to begin planning for the next technology phase. Mobility and the cloud are important decisions on not only where your information lives, but how you grow.