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Cloud computing or server – how do you choose?

We have recently had to decide whether to upgrade our server or switch to cloud computing solutions for all our business systems. In the end we have upgraded the server, but the choice was worth having and the options were eye-opening to explore.

Our old server was eight years old and beginning to show signs of aging so the obvious response was to buy and install a replacement.

Server specialists are thin on the ground

But that required finding a server specialist to help us and it turns out there are not too many of them who want to address the SME market.

This may be a consequence of the migration to cloud computing solutions – the cloud is perceived to be where the future is, office-based servers are less interesting and the skills required to set up and run a server environment are required less frequently.

As a result there are fewer firms engaged in supporting servers. They are harder to find and more expensive than they were a few years ago.

Are we the right type of business for cloud computing?

We began to consider a totally cloud-based solution where a company hosts your businesses software applications and everyone accesses them via the web.

So I spoke to a couple of accountancy practices who have adopted hosted solutions. One was smaller than us and younger, essentially one man working from home in the UK with a bookkeeper in India.

It’s easy to see why a hosted solution made sense for him.

But very surprisingly I spoke to a firm that is rather larger and older than ours and they were fully embracing a hosted solution for the following reasons:

  • staff could work at home or at clients much more and so the firm required less office space
  • travel costs were considerably lower and less time wasted in cars and on trains
  • it is easy for them to expand into a new location because they don’t have to think about IT infrastructure – it’s all in the cloud
  • document storage is all done online and so filing doesn’t tie up dead space

All of which led me to conclude that there is no ideal type or size of business that should or should not be in the cloud and that the benefits of adopting a cloud solution are far from being confined to IT.

Where do we go from here?

In the end, we found a good server guy and the new machine is up and running, but we’re not entirely grounded!

We have used remote access solutions such as Logmein for some years (the subject of an earlier blog) and will continue to do so as well as using the new generation of cloud-based accounting solutions that are in the market.

Much of our interaction with HMRC is online and applications such as this blog are totally cloud based.

And in another few years when the new server begins to groan and creak, who knows what the answer will be. But I bet the search for it will be just as interesting.






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