Cloud vs. Server: What is Right for Your Business?

cloud vs server

Guest Blogger: Devon Moon, Magnitech Account Executive

By now, most of us have at least a vague understanding of what “the cloud” is. It’s where the pictures on your phone go, where your emails are – you have cloud-based business applications, and cloud-hosted client portals…but do you really understand how the cloud supports your business?

Essentially, you have two general options when it comes to storing data for your business: the aforementioned cloud, and local servers. Let’s dive into some of the major differences between those options and how to determine what’s right for you and your business.

Cloud Vs. Server

The physical difference: A local server is a piece of hardware stored within the four walls of your business. This is referred to as an “on-prem” or “on-premises” server. The cloud is simply a server located somewhere else that you are able to access through the internet.

Accessibility: For the local server, you can access the data through your local network within the four walls that the server resides, without the need for an internet connection. Accessing cloud-hosted data requires internet service. *Important note: If you are accessing a local server remotely (from outside of the office through a VPN) your ability to do so will be reliant on the internet connection of the server, AND of the device that you are accessing from.

Cost: A local server requires a higher initial capital outlay. You are purchasing the physical server, the backup server, paying for the installation, paying for someone to monitor the server and perform back-ups (either internal or outsourced). Servers typically need to be replaced every 5-7 years. Utilizing a cloud service eliminates a big chunk of that initial cost. Instead, you are essentially “renting” server space from a provider.

Backup/Disaster Recovery: As innocent as an employee accidentally deletes a file, or as devious as being hacked, issues can arise where data is lost or corrupted. To prevent against permanent losses with a local server, there needs to be a backup server in place, with best practice being to schedule your backups throughout the day – this service is typically provided by a dedicated support team. With cloud hosted data, these backups are automatic and regular.

Space/Storage: With a local server, it is simple; you are limited in storage space based on the capabilities of the server that you purchase. With a cloud service, you are able to scale up and scale back based on your storage needs. Generally speaking, the more storage you “rent” the higher the cost.

Here are a few questions you should be asking to figure out what is right for you:

1. Do you have an internal IT staff, or will you be outsourcing these needs to a MSP?

2. What applications support your business, and what requirements do they have?

3. Can you afford the capital outlay for a local server?

4. How quickly do you see your data storage needs expanding?

5. How important is ownership of both the hardware and the data to you?

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