Server or Cloud? The best tech setup for your SME
While you’re probably already using some cloud-based applications like Google Suite, Vend, Xero and Dropbox, you may not be relying completely on the cloud to store and manage your business data. Particularly if your business has stood the test of time, you may rely on bespoke applications and be using ‘in-house’ servers. And perhaps you’ve been advised in the past not to ‘trust the internet’.
But cloud computing can bring real advantages for small business – in cost, productivity and customer experience. Advantages that can help you move forward while maintaining security and avoiding disruption.
This blog will compare the two solutions, help demystify the cloud and talk about its advantages for small business.
What exactly is ‘the cloud’?
Cloud computing uses remote servers over the Internet to store and manage data. This means you can use applications and access your information online anytime from any device.
But, there are some instances where you may still need to rely on server (otherwise known as ‘on-premise’) applications. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons...
In-house servers (on-premise)
Complete control – An in-house server offers physical control over critical data and reduces the need for a reliable internet connection. Also may be necessary for bespoke software and applications.
High performance – Some workloads may be processed faster by in-house servers.
Compliance – Depending on your business (medical, financial or legal), you may not be able to store sensitive data in the cloud. Although this is changing as cloud encryption becomes more sophisticated.
Big investment – The upfront investment is a huge expense, even for established businesses. And it means having an IT expert on staff to manage a data centre.
Requires storage – To run effectively, servers need considerable space in a secure location, connected to power and cooling systems. Having your servers in-house may offer a sense of security, but consider dangers like fires, earthquakes and floods? This risk can be mitigated by regularly taking data offsite – although this may become a hassle.
Pros and cons of cloud-based applications
Scalability – The cloud makes it possible to easily and quickly add users and storage capacity. Compare this to installing more hardware.
Mobile Connections – Storing data or running applications from the cloud makes it easy for employees to connect and work from anywhere, and back up regularly, whatever their location.
Security – Large technology providers rest their reputations on keeping your stuff safe. Their data centres are also incredibly physically secure – probably much more so than an onsite setup.
Cost – Professional-grade software licenses or subscriptions still cost money, but the upfront investment is much lower. With many software plans based on user or client numbers, smaller companies can get up and running while earning before they spend.
Data protection – It’s possible to back up to the cloud as often as every 15 minutes, reducing the potential for data loss. Backup and restore can be managed from any desktop or mobile device.
Accessibility – Cloud-based applications can level the playing field between small businesses and larger competitors, by making the same technology accessible and affordable.
Outages – If you’re not on the right internet connection, outages can cause disruption, and when they go down, so does access to your applications and data.
Limited by internet speed - Moving large files can take longer over the internet if your connection can’t keep up. And while backing up to the cloud is quick and easy, restoring a lot of data does take time, even with a fast connection.
In-house or in the cloud – which is better for your business?
A fast, reliable internet connection, combined with a broadband plan designed for small business can support either or both, whatever the needs, size and complexity of your business. Based on your particular needs, a hybrid model – backing up your data to an onsite server while taking advantage of cloud-based solutions – could fit your business best. For the growing number of businesses that use flexible work from home model, a cloud solution makes the most sense.
Whichever you choose – in house, cloud or a combination – what matters most is making sure your internet connection and business fibre plan have your back.
Why you need business-grade fibre
Business fibre broadband uses fibre optic cable to transport huge amounts of data, via pulses of light at ultra-fast speeds. It doesn’t degrade over distance, so connection and speed stay consistent and reliable – great for using and moving data.
Having the right small business fibre plan in place harnesses the speed, capacity and reliability of fibre to support your business operations today while giving you room to take advantage of all that incredible technology that will take your business into the future.