Everywhere you turn you hear people talking about the cloud (and we aren’t talking about the weather).
“I just moved my e-mail to the cloud.”
“Well, I just moved my shared folders to the cloud.”
“Hah! I just moved my finances AND my CRM software to the cloud.”
Banking in the cloud, sales, remote support, even full server systems are being relocated to cloud sites to eliminate the need for local hardware and infrastructure. There are definite perks to using Internet services, but before you move your last server to the cloud, there are a few things you may want to think about that will go away if you take out that last box.
Here are a few reasons NOT to move that last server off site (or “off-prem” if you are “in-the-know”).
- User account management – A server with Active Directory acts as a centralized database to control user accounts and passwords to determine who can log in to the computers in the network. Without a server, you must manually add a user account to each computer in the network, and if somebody moves to a different computer, you need to add a new account to that computer before they can work. For places with more than 8 computers, this becomes very time consuming to manage. It also creates some challenges when sharing files between computers locally. (Unless you like spending 2 hours on meaningless, time-consuming, repetitive chores)
- User password management – In addition to setting up user accounts, you can also setup how strict passwords should be. You can force users to change them every so often, prevent them from reusing passwords, and define how long they need to be. (Even though without those rules in place, users will ALWAYS choose appropriately complex passwords, right?)
- Patching Management – You can manage patching and update settings on all computers from one place. Using “group policies”, you can force all computers to grab patches from the same location and either install them, or prompt the user for a time when they should install. You can even block the installation of new patches from Microsoft if you don’t want to trust their testing when rolling out new patches. (But Microsoft always gets things right the first time, don’t they?)
- Local Data - Despite everybody’s attempts to move data to the cloud, it seems there is always one tricky piece of data that defies logic and needs to be kept local. Having a server to store it allows it to be centrally available, and easily backed up.
- Centralized Printing/Scanning – Newer servers have improved the management abilities of printers and copier/scanners. You can setup a printer once, and then automate the workstations connect to the server for printing. (Unless you LIKE running around the office, pushing people out of their desks!) Additionally, a server provides a centralized location for sending scanned files for everybody to access.
- Other Centralized tools – rolling out new pieces of software, mapping shared drive letters, updating existing software, synchronizing email and computer passwords, the list goes on and on (and on and on and on).
While the cloud thing is new and exciting, and it offers a lot of flexibility not available with a local server, there is still a need for local servers. However, as the roles of that server are reduced by moving some functions to the cloud, the need for the super-powerful, beefy servers becomes less important. For business solutions in Florida, a basic server with minimal storage can be cheaper than a desktop computer! And that server will still have some redundancies not found in a desktop computer to continue to prevent downtime.
When you sit down to your next planning session (and you do have planning sessions, right?) make sure you seriously consider keeping that last server around to handle the network management and maintenance so that you don’t get stuck with a situation where the computers don’t meet your needs. It will save you time and money. For those of you looking for IT support in West Palm Beach, you can always contact InfoStream with your questions.