Does cloud hosting provide bigger benefits to your company data than file servers? Find out in our comprehensive analysis.
With cloud computing well into the mainstream and steadily replacing roles currently filled by traditional server architecture, it's time to ask the big question: can cloud hosting replace traditional file servers for storing and sharing files between employees in your organisation? Serving, sharing, and storing files was probably the very reason many small and midsize companies built out their intranet infrastructure in the first place, and may still be the only reason that many companies have a server in their office or are renting server space. And as the workforce became more mobile, these servers took on the additional duties of sharing your internal files with employees on the road or working from home, even though they may not have always been designed for those functions.
Cloud hosting, on the other hand, was born from a networked world with sharing, collaboration, and mobility being key considerations from the very beginning. Despite only being a relatively recent technological innovation, cloud computing has leveraged these strengths to quickly start eating away at the share of file hosting and file sharing duties of traditional server setups. Still, many companies are still hesitant to trust their files and security entirely to a third party where they may share space and resources with other companies, or entrust their proprietary data to some nebulous "cloud". So which is better for your needs? What are the pros and cons of legacy file sharing servers compared to the newcomer cloud storage?
Traditional File Servers: Pros and Cons
File servers have been the mainstays and workhorses of the business world practically since business networking has been a term. There are a significant number of pros to keeping your files on an internal (or externally managed) server that you control. The biggest pro is ownership. While you may not own a rented server, if you are on shared hosting for example, you still control all of the contents of the server without doubt, and a hosting company cannot simply pull the plug on you, erase your data, or otherwise compromise the integrity of your data. This is even more so if you actually host your own file server on–premises or in a colocation space.
Another advantage of maintaining your own file server is the ability to configure it as much as you want, within certain limits (depending on your server type–self–hosted, shared, or dedicated). This gives you options about how you want files served, how credentials will be assigned, where people will be able to access files from, etc. This gives you flexibility and allows you to set things up in a way that is unique and specialised for your organisation.
The major downside of having a traditional file server for sharing is the inflexibility and difficulty in maintaining such a server. Whether you host the server on–premises, have a shared hosting account, or a dedicated or co–located server, it is difficult to scale up and down as demand rises and falls. In fact, it's impossible to do so dynamically in real time. That means during slow periods, you may be paying for way more server than you need, while during especially busy periods you may find that you are running out of bandwidth, RAM, or storage space. On top of that, unless you use a managed server, you will also have to be responsible for your own security and maintenance.
Cloud Storage: Pros and Cons
Cloud storage has pros that are the exact opposite of traditional servers. In order to utilise public cloud servers for storage and file sharing, you will be giving up a large portion of control in exchange for smooth operations. Public cloud storage allows you to not have to worry about buying server space, maintaining security, provisioning file space, or any of the other tasks that owning a server usually entails. The cloud storage provider will be responsible for security, for determining how access is granted, and where people can access the server from. You also gain flexibility. Many cloud storage services allow you to ramp services up and down to keep up with real–time demand. In fact, some will even do the automatic provisioning for you.
Downsides of a cloud storage and sharing solution are the loss of control that such a solution entails. You also have to worry about the cloud storage provider becoming a victim of cybercrime attacks. While most cloud service providers are much more security savvy than most small business IT teams, they are also much more likely to be seen as targets by hackers and other malicious elements.
Ultimately, each solution to the problem of file sharing and storage has its own pros and cons. Which works best for your business largely depends on your needs and your capabilities: a file server for companies with an IT budget to spend but a need for privacy, extra security, or their own special server build, or cloud storage for companies that don't mind giving up a large measure of control in exchange for costs savings in IT management and technology.
Knowing the costs associated with downtime can help you prioritise IT spending within your technology budget. Learn how to calculate both the direct and indirect costs resulting from downtime.
When preparing your technology budget, it is useful to know the costs associated with downtime. This information can help you prioritise IT expenditures so that critical systems and operations receive the funding needed to keep them running efficiently. Knowing the downtime costs can also motivate you to create business continuity and disaster recovery plans if you have not created them yet.
There are many ways to calculate the direct and indirect costs incurred from downtime. The calculations presented here are basic ones that you can easily customise for your business.
Calculating the Direct Costs of Downtime
The direct costs of downtime are the expenses you can easily quantify and attribute to a specific downtime event. They include the:
- Cost of lost employee productivity: This expense captures how much money was lost because employees could not work during the downtime event. It can be calculated using the equation: Cost of lost employee productivity = (Average hourly wage for the employees affected) x (Number of employees affected) x (Number of hours of downtime)
- Cost of employee recovery: This figure represents the amount of money spent to catch up on work once the IT component has been restored. Besides the basic employee wage, you need to include any additional expenses, such as overtime pay. The basic equation is: Cost of employee recovery = (Average hourly wage for the employees affected) x (Number of employees affected) x (Number of hours spent catching up)
- Cost of IT recovery: This expense depicts how much money was spent to get the IT component working again. It should only account for the time spent by the in-house IT staff or IT service provider to fix the problem. It should not include the cost of any replacement hardware or software. For example, if in-house IT staff fixed the problem, you can use the equation: Cost of IT recovery = (Average hourly wage of in-house IT staff) x (Number of IT staff working on the problem) x (Hours required to fix the IT component)
Calculating the Indirect Costs of Downtime
The indirect costs associated with downtime are not easily quantifiable. They are usually calculated by using a figure that represents the amount of revenue lost from a downtime event. The equation to determine this figure is: Revenue lost = (Annual revenue/8,760 hours per year) x (Number of hours of downtime)
After you calculate the amount of lost revenue, you can determine the indirect costs. Two common calculations are:
- Projected loss of revenue due to lost customers: This expense represents how much money was likely lost due to customers leaving because of the downtime event. One metric you can use is the average rate of repeat sales. You can calculate it with the following equation: Projected loss of revenue due to lost customers = (Revenue lost) x (Average rate of repeat sales)
- Projected loss of revenue due to damaged reputation: This figure estimates how much money was lost due to potential customers being scared away because of the downtime event. One metric you can use to calculate it is the percentage of sales from referrals (e.g., referrals through social media and shopping comparison sites). The equation is: Projected loss of revenue due to damaged reputation = (Revenue lost) x (Percentage of sales from referrals)
Using the Calculations
Using the direct and indirect cost calculations, you can determine the total cost of downtime. This is helpful if you want to know the cost of an actual downtime event or when you want to see the impact a hypothetical downtime event might have on your business. The total cost of downtime is derived by adding together all the direct and indirect downtime costs you feel are applicable to your business. For example, if you want to include all the direct and indirect costs mentioned previously, the equation is: Total cost of downtime = (Cost of lost employee productivity) + (Cost of employee recovery) + (Cost of IT recovery) + (Projected loss of revenue due to lost customers) + (Projected loss of revenue due to damaged reputation)
For budgeting purposes, it helps to look at the downtime costs incurred when individual applications, services, or IT components are unavailable. For example, you might calculate the direct and indirect costs (or just the direct costs for simplicity) of downtime separately for:
- Each critical business application (programs used by large numbers of employees as part of their primary job functions or programs that are crucial in day-to-day operations, such as billing software)
- Each important technology application or service (programs and services that employees use to help them perform their jobs, such as email software)
- Each component in the IT infrastructure (servers, computers, networks, and communications capabilities)
That way, you can determine which applications, services, and IT components are most critical to your business. With this information, you can budget the funds needed to keep them running at peak efficiency.
Keeping your computer systems secure and operating at peak efficiency needs to be a top priority. Here are six reasons why you should use a remote monitoring service to watch over them.
If your company is like most businesses, your computer systems play an important role in your daily operations. To make sure those systems are secure and operating at peak efficiency, you can use a remote monitoring service to watch over them and gather information. Not only will you get data about your systems, but you'll also gain peace of mind.
Here are six reasons why you should use a remote monitoring service to keep an eye on your computer systems:
1. Your Business Can Avoid Downtime
When your computer systems go down, you lose time and money, so having as little unplanned downtime as possible is ideal. With remote monitoring, you can set alerts that trigger when a problem starts to develop. This early notification means issues can be resolved before they develop into a crisis that causes downtime.
2. Every Device Is Monitored and Supported
Almost any device can be monitored remotely, including servers, routers, firewalls, and laptop and desktop computers. In addition, updates and other changes can be implemented without you or your employees needing to take any action.
3. Problems Can Be Addressed Immediately
With remote monitoring, your computer systems are watched around the clock. This 24x7 service means that solving tech troubles does not have to wait until the morning.
4. Security Measures Are Monitored
Cybercriminals like to target small and midsize businesses because they are often unprepared for attacks. A remote monitoring service can keep an eye on the security measures you have in place so that you know they are working properly. Plus, if you are attacked, you will know immediately rather than finding out days or weeks later. Early detection often limits the damage and reduces the level of effort needed to restore the affected systems.
5. You Can Handle Problems from Any Location
Thanks to remote monitoring, it does not matter where you, your computer systems, or your employees are. When an issue arises, you will be contacted to find out how you want it handled, and those instructions will be carried out. This means that you do not even need to leave the comfort of your own home to take care of a problem. This aspect of remote monitoring is especially appealing to businesses with facilities in distant or rural locations.
6. Your Computer Systems' Health Is Tracked
Remote monitoring collects data about your computer systems over time. When viewing this data in monthly or quarterly reports, long-term trends can be identified before they reach levels that would trigger an alert.
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