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Running Servers and Desktops from the Cloud – Will It Make Sense for Your Business?

With the success of cloud computing platforms like Office 365, businesses in every sector are seeing the benefit of running applications from the cloud instead of having to own and manage all the hardware and software directly.

The problem is you’re still left running your own servers to run your other applications such as accounts, payroll, HR etc. You also still have file servers and desktops / laptops, each with its own operating systems and associated costs and processes to manage – from licences, hardware maintenance and electricity costs, to security patches and upgrades. All of this takes people to manage and leaves you vulnerable to changes in technology and system failures.

With this is mind, the next movement for the general business sector is to consider moving servers and desktops to the cloud.

There are many significant benefits to this but as with all technology decisions, it must be considered carefully to see if it fits in with your business model and specific requirements.

Cloud Desktops

Benefits of running desktops from the cloud:

MobilityAccess the office from any location
The number one benefit of hosted desktops is that business users can log on to their own desktops and their entire suite of business software applications – from their CRM database to their accounting packages, as well as their emails, files and data – from any location, using any device.

You don’t have to invest in new equipment and the cost of the hosted desktop service is a set monthly fee.

Financial savings
The desire to reduce the cost of IT is a key driver for just about every business. A hosted desktop strategy can significantly reduce the cost and time it takes to provide users with desktops, typically saving businesses between 30 and 50 per cent from their IT budgets over a four-year period.

Better cash flow
Moving to a hosted desktop service removes the need for costly capital expenditure on physical servers. You can enjoy a low fixed monthly pay-as-you-go price – only paying for what you use, which will result in improved cash flow and more predicable budgeting.

Scalability
Hosted desktops give organisation flexibility and make it easier for you to grow and scale your IT requirements up or down by adding (or removing) employees, storage and applications quickly and only paying for what you use.

Productivity
Adopting to cloud computing can have a dramatic increase in productivity by reducing the time spent on operational tasks that just “keep the lights on.”

Hosted desktops enable seamless remote working from any location, which ensures high productivity levels and can enable companies to reduce overheads, offer flexible working and keep their staff happy.

Remote working
Remote working becomes truly enabled through hosted desktops as employees can log onto to all their business applications from any location, and no longer need to be tied to an office.

A good hosted virtual desktop is accessible from almost any device including Windows, Linux, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Blackberry and Android devices.

Reliability
Any good provider will assure 99.999 per cent uptime and always host your data in a secure data centre behind corporate grade firewalls. The service should also normally provide 24/7 support and disaster recovery services as part of the service offering.

Enhanced security
A good cloud computing provider will perform daily data back-ups for their clients and data is typically stored securely in an Irish datacentre with backup power and generators, cooling, fire systems and 24 – hour security making it more secure than most in-house server environments.

Cost management
With most remote desktop solutions, all your costs are rolled into one simple, predictable monthly subscription. You get access to enterprise grade technology without large upfront capex costs for hardware and software.

 

Running file servers from the Cloud:

You can also now put your file server in the cloud, with all the capabilities you always had – but without the hardware and software to manage! This solution combines the strengths of cloud storage technology with a traditional file server to enable access from the cloud and from the local area network.

A word of caution.

Despite the extensive benefits, there are number of things to consider before you implement any solution:

  1. Data residency – Make sure you know where the data is if that is important for your business. Many companies need to have their data resident in Ireland to meet legal compliance and other regulations.
  1. Billing – Ensure that the provider can give you a structured billing plan, so you don’t have any surprises with your monthly bills. Some providers have a lot of hidden costs and transaction charges that lead to unpredictable and very high monthly bills.
  1. Don’t get locked in – Make sure there is a clearly documented procedure in place for getting out of the service if you wish to move later on.
  1. Data protection – Don’t assume that backup and disaster recovery comes as part of the service – check in detail what level of guaranteed uptime you get with the service and what provision is made for backups.
  1. Quality – we recommend you insist that the service provider is ISO 27001 certified, as it the best way ensure you are getting the highest level of security and quality processes from your supplier.

 

Lorcan Cunningham is CTO with Savenet Solutions.

 

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