Imagine that you are ready to expand your IT infrastructure territory. Do you keep your server on-premises, collocate with a third-party datacentre or do a complete shift to the cloud? Choosing one over the other requires a careful weighing of all the options including company infrastructure, the number of IT staff, the cost you are willing to put in and the industry standards that you need to follow. One thing’s certain, whatever you choose, business requirements such as workforce mobility, infrastructure scaling and budget constraints need to be met as efficiently and cost effectively as possible – and without adding to the management burden on IT administrators who shouldn’t have to skill up on multiple different technologies.
Cloud Servers – Pros and Cons
Cloud storage has been constantly lauded for the multiple benefits that it offers, including its ability to reduce the burden on IT (cloud servers are managed by third parties, thus reducing the responsibilities of IT staff when it comes to implementation, software patches, updates, etc.) provide better accessibility (ability to access data from anywhere at any time, maximising productivity and efficiency) reducing upfront costs (cloud storage only requires monthly operational expenses) and enable an adjustable budget (pay monthly, or just for the services used. When scaling up or down, services can be adjusted to fit to a budget, and some services can be added, removed or left out of the plan). Furthermore, cloud-based storage is scalable and doesn’t need new hardware to be able to scale up a few extra terabytes of data, making it adjustable to company needs, and it also provides efficient data recovery, as cloud servers offer better data backup facilities than on-premises solutions.
These cloud server benefits are significant but there are also negatives that cannot be overlooked. On the downside, although the scalability of cloud servers is rapid, the associated costs can also increase unknowingly when scaling up services or servers. The cloud is connection-dependent and a bad internet connection causes delays and frustrations, resulting in a bad user experience. A poor internet connection can also potentially knock out your access to files. Another negative is less security: working with cloud server vendors means entrusting the management of company data to another party, opening-up the risk of unauthorised data access. Businesses should choose a cloud vendor by carefully assessing their record on security and the additional security measures that might have to be undertaken to ensure the safety of data. Finally, most cloud providers tend to offer just the basic cloud services in their minimum packages, resulting in limited features or charging more for the ones a business really wants.
On-Prem Servers – Pros and Cons
Unlike cloud servers, on-prem solutions rely on the physical servers that exist in an organisation but just like cloud servers, they have their own set of pros and cons. On the positive side, on-prem solutions have lower monthly internet costs (since they can operate without the internet) and better security (not being accessible or vulnerable to third parties). There is also better control over server hardware as upgrades, management and modifications are dependent on IT personnel inside the company; and better control over software customisation with on-prem software solutions allowing organisations to tweak, customise, and configure data within the software and tailor it to their needs.
On the downside is the cost of the skilled staff needed to deploy, manage and maintain on-prem solutions as well as increased upfront and maintenance costs. The initial capital investment required for on-premises solutions is huge. So are the maintenance costs associated with hardware upgrades, software patches and licensing requirements. All these costs will need to be weighed against the benefit to the organisation. Also of consideration is industry compliance for organisations that operate in regulated sectors. Where most cloud solutions are made with compliance in mind, on-premises solutions can require a huge effort and skilled manpower to ensure adherence.
Although considered more secure in some respects, a system malfunction in a compromised on-prem datacentre can bring down a business in seconds if data is permanently lost. Cloud-based systems back up data to remote locations, but on-premises systems store backups on-site, which can be riskier. Finally, on prem solutions have limited scalability compared to cloud so if there is a surge in business operations, there is no way to scale up the infrastructure quickly and scale it back down if the things subside. This limited scalability is one of the biggest factors to consider when deploying on-premises solutions.
Hybrid Cloud: Best of Both Worlds
The solution for most business needs is a hybrid cloud, which offers the best of both worlds. Hybrid clouds comprise of a mix of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services and public cloud services, making it possible to reap the benefits of all three and adjust them to your organisational needs.
At the very least, a hybrid cloud solution should have the following characteristics: a combination of an on-premises datacentre, private and public cloud resources, and all the workloads tied under a common data management solution for better visibility into the infrastructure. The ability to connect existing systems running on traditional architecture with newer cloud services and a secure, stable platform where the entire infrastructure farm can be consolidated and used with ease.
The reason a hybrid cloud is a good choice is because it offers the benefit of business continuity, providing resilience, recovery and contingency whilst reaping the benefits of secure on-premises solutions and the quick uptime and backups of cloud servers. A hybrid cloud also has scalability, up or down, as business needs change, while keeping sensitive workloads on-prem. And hybrid cloud solutions improve security, as they keep sensitive workloads protected on-premises as well as allow slower transitioning to the cloud. Organisations have time to conduct risk management, plan cloud migration strategies at their own pace and ensure that an instantaneous decision for cloud migration does not create long-term problems.
One VDI to Manage it All
If you decide that the best bet for your company infrastructure is hybrid cloud, the next step is to minimise the management burden on your IT administrators. They will appreciate having a central management console with automation tools and enterprise range features to manage both on-prem or cloud workloads, making deployments easier and more streamlined. There are some cost-effective remote application delivery and VDI solutions available that provide central management for hybrid and multi-cloud deployments, so IT admins don’t need to skill up on different technologies in order to manage users’ desktops and applications.
For a secure and scalable central management solution for cloud and on-premises management needs, have a look at Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS).