Help get my head in the cloud
October 8, 2013 8:08 AM Subscribe
My company has about 40 employees and five Windows based in-house servers. About half our staff work remotely (using a terminal server) and we have redundant Internet connections. Over the years we have built up a decent data center involving battery backup and tape archival. As I look to the 2014 budget, which would involve upgrading two servers, I have been asked if we should go to the cloud. I'm honestly finding it hard to evaluate this and hope some others may be able to help me improve my pro/con listing. Extra credit for suggestions to evaluate the costs.
posted by dgran to computers & internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We run a small business server (2008R1) with Exchange 2007. This also acts as our file server that shares our network drive. The lion's share of data that we backup and utilize day to day lives on that one server. Our other four servers are for terminal services and a handful of specific applications.
The impetus to look into the cloud was while researching some on site disaster recovery appliances (Axcient and DattoBackup) and the question was posed if we would have less need for a fail over server if we were cloud based. To my mind this would only be true if the hosting provider, as a matter of contract, had spare hardware and was prepared to build up a new server in the event of a disaster. Moving the hardware and/or data onto servers in a co-location facility only eliminates risks that threaten the hardware in our building. A legion of other risks that threaten the data still exist if it is hosted.
The Pro side I see to getting out of the small business running a server closet scenario are:
1) We can dial down our Internet connectivity requirements. We pay good money for Metro Ethernet because downtime affects 20+ people.
2) A data center would likely have spare hardware that I don't have in the event of a disaster
3) Their facility is likely more secure
4) Presumably some offerings involve the ability to scale up your cpu and disk space needs as you grow, versus upgrading servers wholesale.
The Con side seems:
1) Everybody works remote. Presently half of the staff enjoy LAN speed for data access. While terminal services is empowering, it just isn't as fast as using a workstation on a LAN.
2) I have a good working relationship with an IT support company local to me. We have worked together for seven years and I have some doubts if I'll get as good of support and service from a hosted facility as I get with them coming to me on site for routine and urgent matters.
3) I still think we would need a disaster recovery system. Data and systems fail in data centers too.
Am I missing something? From what I can tell moving the servers off site doesn't help very much. I sense the problem may be that I'm thinking primarily of this in terms of where the server resides while cloud computing proper is about provisioning of resources. The problem is that everything I read about it seems to over promise and is light on the details of just how your applications run in the environment. This uncertainty makes me inclined to the devil I know, but I'm really open to points of view on this.