If you built out your IT infrastructure ten or more years ago, your computer servers (Windows, Linux, HP-UX, Solaris, etc.) are most likely located on-premises (or on-prem), in a data closet in your office. Or perhaps in a data center located elsewhere – but still you own those physical servers. No one else can use them, even when they’re idle. .
With on-prem servers comes many costs. Those costs vary depending on the nature of the applications running on your servers, how much downtime will impact your business, your ability to keep up with security patches and other updates to the operating system and system software, etc. Perhaps you have your own IT department that manages your hardware and software. They monitor them to make sure they’re up and running, with enough capacity. Your IT folks do upgrades when needed, fix things when they break. Your team makes sure your data gets backed up as frequently as needed and reliably. And that you have contingency plans for business continuity in case your data closet or data center is, say, damaged by a hurricane.
But what if you’d rather focus on your business, on your clients’ needs. You don’t want to be in the IT business – it’s complicated, afterall. One solution is to off load your IT infrastructure needs to a managed services company. Then you no longer have to worry about healthcare benefits or 401(k)s or vacations for your IT team – those would be the managed services company’s responsibility. You’ll be smart to keep at least a small application team in-house, to maintain any customized software your business uses. And to keep all that institutional knowledge that probably isn’t well documented. But the headache of owning the hardware would still be yours. Scaling up may be limited by the amount of rack space available to you in your data closet or data center. Factoring that into your contract with the managed services company can get complicated.
Another solution is to migrate your systems and data to the cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS has been around for about thirteen years, as of this publication. Amazon is super experienced in migrating clients to their AWS cloud. I was on a short-term project where a web server and a database server were migrated (well, the software and data from those servers were migrated) to AWS. AWS provided tools that facilitated things like opening up firewall ports, providing a secure file transfer server, and licensing for Microsoft SQL Server. We had three environments – development, user testing and production. To save money our development and testing environments were available only during business hours. This actually hampered productivity during the initial build out phases of development and testing. In the future I won’t recommend limiting uptime until after the environment is fully implemented and burned in.
For more information on migrating to AWS, visit https://aws.amazon.com/cloud-migration/