For most organizations, maintaining servers is not a core competency, but there are concerns with moving hosting and other services to the cloud. One of the most common concerns we hear from small businesses is the reliability or security of cloud hosting services. Several high-profile outages have made it obvious that cloud services are not infallible.
However, it is a mistake to assess cloud services on an absolute scale. Small businesses should ask themselves whether cloud service providers can do a better job keeping the servers running than they can. Almost always, the answer is yes.
If it has ever taken you longer than 24 hours to recover from a server outage, it’s probably time to move to the cloud.
It is impossible for most small businesses to match the ability and experience in server management of providers like Amazon and Rackspace. Additionally, those providers have several advantages that come from the scale of their business. If hardware fails, they have a larger pool of backups to use as substitutes than do small businesses. They can make better use of resources by spreading the cost of features like diesel generator backup and redundant connectivity across many hosted solutions, enabling them to offer more resilient systems at a lower cost than their customers could achieve independently.
What are the telltale signs that an organization should move to the cloud?
Not all small organizations need to move to the cloud, and there are factors to consider other than reliability and cost. However, if it has ever taken you longer than 24 hours to recover from a server outage, it’s probably time to move to the cloud. If your server uptime is worse than 99.9%, it’s probably time to move to the cloud. If you don’t know what your uptime is, server hosting is probably not a high enough priority and should be outsourced, usually, by moving to the cloud.
In addition to increasing reliability and lowering costs, there are some operational advantages from moving to a cloud-hosted solution. The potential to scale capacity quickly is one such advantage, and is of particular value to startups and other organizations expecting rapid growth. The process of spinning up an additional cloud server is significantly faster than installing a new physical server of your own, and does not incur the fixed costs of purchasing new hardware. As a bonus, if that increase in usage turns out to be a spike instead of sustained growth, spinning down that cloud server is just as easy.