Information for Business from Lenovo
Contributor: Kat Aoki
Cloud versus server: What’s best for your business?

Today's businesses need access to scalable, low cost storage solutions to house ever expanding quantities of data. At the same time, IT managers need to make sure that business information is stored safely, securely and is easily accessible. So what's the best solution: cloud services or dedicated internal servers?

While there is not necessarily a right answer as to which is better, here's a look at some of the pros and cons of each to help you determine which is better for your particular needs.

The cloud

Offering the latest hardware in a pay-as-you-go model, cloud computing relieves companies of the burden of having to maintain and upgrade their own servers. With the cloud, you only pay for what you use, scaling capacity upward on an as-needed basis. Additionally, the cloud hosting company provides redundancy, security and backup for your data, significantly lowering the risk of data loss as there is no single point of hardware failure in the cloud.

However, all this convenience does come with a price. In general, you will pay more per user for bandwidth and disk space with a cloud provider as compared to hosting your own server. Nevertheless, this model may work well for smaller businesses that wish to save on basic IT costs or whose workforce is predominantly virtual or global and in need of universal data access. And for businesses that rely on laptops, tablets and smartphones, the cloud offers a great deal of flexibility and convenience.

While the cloud is often cheaper in the short run, many businesses discover that hosting their own servers, whether in-house or at storage facility, to be much more economical in the long run. But keep in mind that, having dedicated internal servers means you will need IT staff or support to manage and troubleshoot them.

The dedicated server

Because the connections are direct, dedicated servers can offer better performance than cloud services while at the same time allowing organisations to retain full control over their data. This last point may be the most compelling for IT managers, 86 per cent of whom don't trust the cloud for their organisation's most sensitive data, believing that it could become stolen or corrupted, according to a survey by Lieberman Software. For firms that are satisfied with their existing hardware and software configurations, making the move to the cloud may not make sense.

On the flip side, businesses running dedicated servers have to plan for and eventually deal with growth and expansion. While it is a relatively simple matter to add more capacity when using a cloud provider, upgrading a server for additional storage, memory and CPU often requires a great deal of expertise and coordination, especially when data needs to be migrated to new hardware.

Which is better for your needs?

While maintaining dedicated servers might be the right option for companies that have incorporated growth into their data model and have their own IT support team, it might not work as well for smaller firms that are still growing and require more flexibility. Indeed, your business’s growth should be a primary consideration when planning your data-hosting needs. However, the decision to go with cloud or server does not need to be an all-or-nothing one. Businesses can also make use of cloud services like Dropbox, which don't require any changes to their existing systems.

As cloud services continue to proliferate, undoubtedly pushing costs down over the next few years, more businesses may find themselves jumping on the cloud bandwagon. In the meantime, which is better really depends on your preferences and budget.

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