On-site vs. Off-site Servers
The goal of this post is to help you in answering the question, “Should I have my own server or use an offsite data centre?” Depending on the kind of application, each has advantages and disadvantages. Where you place the software you use to operate your business is an important decision. The options are:
- Have your own server on-site with a local area network serving the computers which are connected to your network, typically the ones which exist in your facility
- Have your server ‘hosted’ in a data centre, a third party company that is independent from your software provider. You can purchase server space or server resources from a data centre, you ‘own’ and control the access and all your users can connect to the server over the internet.
The benefits and drawbacks to on-site servers are well documented online and are essentially the inverse of the benefits and drawbacks to off-site (cloud) server options, so we focus this post on the benefits and drawbacks of off-site server options, as that is a topic our customers are currently facing.
Benefits of off-site server services:
- You don’t need to have internal IT staff who can maintain the server
- It is easy to scale up resources, starting with a minimal level of service and scaling from there
- Less up-front costs. Off-site server services typically charge by the month so there very minimal capital required to get started
- Decentralizing power over IT resources between your software providers and your hardware providers gives you power over how one interacts with the other
Disadvantages of off-site server services:
- You are entirely dependent on the internet to run your business and access your data. Think of how often your internet goes down. No one at your office can access data or process transactions if the internet is down so having a backup internet source is important. In addition, data centres will have their own down time that’s out of your control
- Increased internet usage can reduce your ability to transfer information from your server to your computer, such as by running other software applications or transferring files
- You will have to sign a service contract for a minimum of one year, sometimes longer, so total cost over time may end up higher than buying your own server
What’s right for one company is not right for another. Most of our customers are privately owned companies run by entrepreneurs and many are family businesses. Some are located in areas that are still not served by reliable and fast internet. If you prefer to have your data on-premise, then buying a server is the best way to go. If you are comfortable with your internet and okay with your data being stored off-site, a data centre may be worth considering, especially if you need a new server or don’t own one now.