Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Blog Postings Have Moved

I have moved all new postings to my new account.  I kept posting here because Google didn't allow me to post on Google Apps but that was a long time ago.....  Here is the link to the new blogsite:  http://sublimecomp.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When Should I Move My Server to the Cloud?

The term “The Cloud” makes sales people giggle and technicians cringe.  We have all been using the technology that makes up the cloud for a long time.  However, having your server in another location has not always been a viable option.  There are scenarios where having your server hosted at a data center (AKA in the cloud) is not a good idea.  I am going to discuss a scenario when it is a good idea to move your server to the cloud.

The Really Old File Server
If you have a file server that is on its’ last leg and your IT staff has been begging you to replace it here are some possible reasons:
  • Hard drives are failing or failed.
  • The manufacturer will no longer provide support for the server.
    • Spare parts have to be purchased from Ebay.
  • It does not always startup when you turn it on.
  • The cooling method is taking the side off of it and blowing a box fan into it.
  • The power goes out in your office and your server is offline.
  • It is still running 32 bit Windows Server 2000.
  • There is not enough RAM to run all of the applications that are needed.
  • There is no disaster recovery if the building burns down.
  • You have to replace the server anyway.

  • Less than 30 Users
    • There is a mix of mobile and office workers.
  • The files that are stored on the server are emails, documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
  • The company has a fast internet connection.

This is a scenario where a cloud server makes sense.  A VPN tunnel is setup between the office and the cloud server.  If due diligence is done, then the users will not notice a difference.  All of their files settings and login will process as normal.  The problems that were listed above are no longer a problem.
  • Hard drives are faster, larger and a very expensive drive array maintained by someone else.
  • The server is virtual.  The warranty is a SLA’s provided by the cloud server provider.
  • The server is in a data center and all of the gear is cooled and powered.
  • The server is running 64 bit Windows Server 2008 or 2012.
  • Disaster Recovery - The office building can burn down and your server and your data is secure.
  • RAM can be increased easily.

Other benefits of cloud servers:
  • $200 per month (Based on resources required) for a virtual server.
    • Upfront cost of purchasing a server sized for this scenario is typically $5000 plus labor.  
    • No longer have hardware depreciation.
  • The server can be setup to be accessed from anywhere.
    • Users don’t “have” to work from the office.
  • IT costs associated with hardware will decrease.

Cons and Considerations
  • If you don’t have faster internet at the data center or at the office, then access will be too slow.
    • A T1 is not fast internet any more. 1.5 MB upload and download
    • A bonded T1 is not fast internet. 3 MB upload and download
    • DSL at 50 MB download speed and 10 MB upload speed is fast internet.
    • Our recommendation is dual internet.  Fast DSL and an internet T1 for backup at the office.
  • If you are processing large files like movies, animations or CAD files, then the cloud will be too slow for you.
  • Software like Quickbooks or other programs that have a database file stored on the server will also be too slow.
  • There are some good migration paths for converting your existing physical server into a virtual server.  I would not recommend this path unless time is of the essence or software dictates.  I feel that it is better to have a clean server with which to start.

Careful consideration needs to be made when moving servers to the cloud.  Do it when it makes sense for your organization.  This whole process will have to be handled by a competent technician and it can be expensive if the technician doesn’t spend the time planning the move.

Adam Bell
Senior Systems / Network Engineer
Sublime Computer Services
We make your technology work