First of all, what is a cloud server? To be honest, it is very similar to a server in your office (or “on-premises”), but the cloud server is located in a secure data centre. In fact, in a genuine cloud deployment your server actually exists in multiple data centres at the same time, so even if one data centre experiences an outage, your server would still be online and accessible. Be wary of hosted servers masquerading as a cloud solution - hosted servers only exist in a single data centre so they don't provide the same level of reliability.
What are the key differences between a cloud server and an on-premises server?
You will own (or lease) your on-premises server, whereas you will rent a cloud server. The costs of renting a cloud server are on a monthly basis. Depending on which server you choose, you may be charged for the amount of data and time that you use the cloud server. A physical server will require a large sum up front and once you’re up to capacity, that’s that. With the cloud, you rent what you need when you need it.
You can increase or decrease the size of your cloud server as you go along – it is much harder to do this with an on-premises server. The cloud infrastructure that you are running on will not be dedicated to you, but your server will be secure so no-one else can access it.
The reliability of the server is likely to be increased as the data centre will have redundant internet connections and redundant power, which means if there is a power outage or an internet connection breaks they have a whole standby system set up to maintain the data centre's infrastructure. Most offices are unlikely to have this facility.
Should I choose a cloud server or an on-premises server?
Whilst every organisation is different, we are increasingly finding that the benefits of moving to a cloud server outweigh the negatives.
In general, a cloud-based solution provides the following benefits over an on-premises server:
• Reliability – Cloud servers and the datacentres they sit in have multiple layers of redundancy built in. On a simple level what happens if there is a power cut at your office or the internet goes? In a multi-million-pound datacentre they have huge batteries and diesel generators, and multiple redundant internet links.
• Scalability – With a cloud server you are able to grow (or shrink) your systems at a click of a button without purchasing new servers or systems.
• Time – No more looking after your servers in your IT room / cupboard!
• Security – Could-based systems are, if they are setup correctly, far more secure than an on-premises server. Again, the security around a multi-million-pound datacentre is far greater than most offices have.
• Speed – We can implement cloud-based systems quickly (and also make changes on the fly). It is like having a whole datacentre ready for you to use.
What other considerations are there in moving to a cloud server?
When moving businesses to the cloud, we also have a few other considerations, for example:
• Connectivity – Who will be accessing the server in the cloud, how will they be accessing it and where from? Having a good internet connection is vital if you move to a cloud server.
• Software – What software do you currently use, and is it fit for purpose, how is the best way to set this up in a cloud environment?
• Integration – How can we make your cloud sever work well with your other systems (for example, Office 365)?
At Resolve, we are experts in helping organisations move to the cloud (we have done if for over 100 companies), and if you need any help or advice, please do get in touch.