As your Small / mid-size enterprise (SME) grows, you will need to make a key decision about how you store data. There are two main options that most SMEs will opt between: in-house servers or cloud servers.
- In-house servers are those that are physically located on your premises - you and your IT are responsible for managing them and ensuring that they run efficiently and effectively.
- Cloud servers are remote servers usually run by huge IT companies. These typically have the possibility for more storage capacity and their day-to-day operations are entirely managed for you.
However, many SMEs are actually choosing to utilise in-house servers. Here we take a look at why this is the case, and take a look at whether they might be the right option for your SME.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of having your own in-house servers is that they put you in complete control. Need more server space? Add it. Want to change backup time? Make it happen instantly. Want to perform upgrades at a specific time? It’s all up to you and what suits your business the most.
Challenges with cloud servers are often kept to a minimum by competent running from your providers, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t the odd issues that can be frustrating or slow you up. Many SMEs prefer the flexibility and opportunity to do exactly what they want with their servers.
Of course, this does come at the cost of extra work on the part of your business. However, this trade-off has proven to be the right choice for many.
Repurpose office space
One interesting consideration has come across as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the change it has created in workplaces. More people are working from home than ever before and this is leaving businesses with typically more office space than they need for their staff on any given day.
The fact is that this has produced an opportunity. In the past, it was seen as potentially beneficial for businesses to get rid of their in-house servers in order to make more space in their office for staff. But now that staff are working at home, these servers can be brought in without having the associated cost of buying more office space.
The space can simply be repurposed and used for the server room. Instead of costing a significant amount to put your servers in the office, it could now work out as a more viable option.
Easier to manage than ever before
Part of the appeal for SMEs is that managing your own in-house servers is easier than it has ever been. Some IT expertise is required - but this is not usually beyond the capabilities of small businesses.
Of course, there is more to think about than just the day-to-day running of the server. For example, providing the right environment has always been a crucial element of having an effective on-site server.
“High quality, professional HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] system design is an essential aspect of managing the indoor climate of any building,” says Philip Todd, Managing Director of BSE 3D. This is extremely relevant for SMEs with servers in their buildings, as regulating temperature is an important part of successfully running servers in situ. Todd continues “your HVAC system must take into account the size, layout, structure and purpose of its environment in order to regulate and filter the air effectively.”
Advanced HVAC systems - once a rarity in SMEs - are now common, making it far easier to properly manage your servers.
Manage your own backup
One of the most crucial elements for the successful running of any business is the backup. Unfortunately it is naturally the case that problems will occur, no matter how careful you and your team are. It is in moments like these that you can rely on the fact that your system is backed up.
Unfortunately, with many cloud server providers you are beholden to their own policies regarding when they backup and how comprehensive it is. This means that if you lose crucial data at the wrong time, there may be no way to retrieve it. Of course, it can pay to have multiple backups including in-house and on the cloud.
But in the case of serious issues such as disaster recovery it can pay to be in control of your backups.
As with all of the decisions made by SMEs, cost is a factor. It is vital to make choices that are right for the company finances in the long-term. As such, you need to look at in-house servers and their cloud equivalents over a longer period.
“Obtaining and mounting the hosting setup will charge you a large amount,” says Stacy Richards at IT Briefcase “but afterward, the maintenance fee will be lower compared with cloud hosting. As your company grows there is no doubt that in-house servers will cost less compared to cloud hosting.”
This might not be true for every business, but many SMEs have found that having their servers in house actually saves them money.
No internet reliance
One of the major challenges that businesses can face is if they store all of their data on cloud servers, and then there is loss of service on the side of the provider. Even if the period of outage is fairly short, it can cause absolutely enormous levels of disruption and make it impossible for your business to function normally.
Opting for in-house servers means that you don’t even need to be connected to the internet to get the data that is stored in your office.
There are a huge number of considerations that need to be made when you are choosing between in-house and cloud servers. It is important to understand exactly what your business needs, and how you can fulfil those needs most effectively. Some smaller businesses have found that in-house servers are effective for them, so it is worth you considering it.