For the past few years, the term “The Cloud” has become a huge selling point in the IT business. Everywhere you look you will see an advertisement for going to “The Cloud”.  Whether it’s simply storing data in the cloud or running your ERP software in the cloud, we here at West County Net get the question all the time: “Should we go to the cloud?”

The simple answer? Maybe. When a client needs a network upgrade, the most common comment we will get from the client is that they want to look at going to the cloud. This is usually not driven from a business needs perspective, but rather a reaction to all the buzz “The Cloud” has gotten over the past few years. Since it is such a hot buzz word these days, people think that if they run all their applications in “The Cloud”, then they are using the latest greatest technology by default.

Cloud servers and hosted services are great for ease of use and require far less maintenance and support than traditional hardware servers. Sometimes though, the benefits end there. Dedicated cloud servers are extremely expensive still. What we are finding is that most of our clients could buy a new server every 2 years for what they will pay to rent a cloud server. Depending on your server needs, this can be a low as every year.

Internet speeds are increasing in Sonoma County and one day, gigabit internet will be available for every business in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. That day however, is not today. If you are like most businesses in Sonoma County, you will have either a fiber internet connection or you will have DSL/Cable through companies like Comcast Xfinity & Sonic.  Fiber connections generally cap at 20mb up & down while DSL/Cable can be faster, especially download speeds, but it’s rare to see speeds over 50mb even when 100 mb is advertised.

So if you are a business with one location and you rely heavily on your ERP software, like Sage, Netsuite or Oracle to name a few, then sending a large number of requests over the internet to your cloud server is not going to perform as well as a server inside your office transferring data at 1 GB per second. Combine that with the cost of cloud computing and it’s easy to see why going to a cloud server does not make a lot of sense.

When is a cloud server a good idea? If a company has multiple office buildings that access the same programs and data, then the primary factor is only price. At this point the client needs to weight the cost benefit of the cloud server. Is the higher price worth it over the life of a server? If you already upgrade your servers every few years, it very well may be worth it to go to a dedicated cloud server.

These are the discussions we have with our clients before making a recommendation. Having a trusted technical partner is critical when deciding the future of your network. A company that is not invested in their client’s success will chase the profit regardless of what’s best for the client. At West County Net, we take pride in our client’s growth and we work side by side with our clients to make sure they always make the right choices for their technology needs.

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