Should you be entrusting your data to the cloud or keeping it down to earth on your own servers? This is a decision facing every IT manager. It is one they’ll be forced to justify and revisit regularly for the foreseeable future. That’s because there’s been no knock-out blow in the argument between the cloud and the in-house server. There’s plenty to be said for both, which makes the question one of what’s right for you.
Surely the chance to ditch your servers and outsource to someone who is steeped in server management seems like a gift from the universe.
The arguments in favour of cloud computing are easy to make, especially to someone frustrated by the intellectual overhead and raw cost of maintaining their own servers.
The promises of the cloud include the following.
- You pay only for what you use, so it’s incredibly flexible; you can scale up or down at will.
- Security, upgrading, and server configuration are in the hands of the cloud provider.
In these days of everything being “as-a-service,” the idea of owning anything like a server seems downright old-fashioned. If Uber can run the world’s largest taxi service without owning any taxis, why on earth would you need to own servers?
Where to look closely
There are a few things you need to factor in to make sure you’re comfortable with any potential compromises.
Power: Cloud providers can’t match the power of a dedicated server that’s properly configured.
Speed: The scalability of the cloud has to do with getting more or less storage, not faster storage, which might be a concern when another customer is flogging the server you’re on.
Latency: If your cloud host uses dispersed locations or it’s not nearby, you might have latency issues.
Taking a dedicated approach
The promise of cloud computing is most clearly seen in companies meeting one or more of the following criteria.
- Tight budgets
- Growth they can’t predict
- Business-to-consumer models
- Jobs that don’t need lots of computer power or storage or much time to run
A company that has a business-to-business model or has well-established usage needs and predictable growth will likely find running its own servers cheaper and more efficient. This is something you can quickly run the numbers on, and the results might surprise you, considering that “cheaper” is a clarion call of the cloud industry.
The issue of security
It’s also worth running the decision through the filter of security. Hackers fish where the fish are, which makes cloud hosts attractive targets. You’re not just outsourcing server configuration and the like. You’re trusting another company with your security. If security is a concern, you’re probably better off keeping your servers in-house, where you can tailor security to your needs.