29th April 2020 by Andrew Hookway
Can you believe that it was only a couple of months ago when you travelled to your office, sat at your desk (with people around you), turned on your computer and everything just worked?
In the background, there was probably a server room on your premises helping to keep your business running. Although you may never have given it too much thought day in, day out, it was there, serving up all your files and supporting various hosted applications such as the company CRM, ERP, case management system or accounting software.
Then in March, for many businesses, everything changed, and overnight inhouse IT teams (or IT support companies) were faced with making sure everyone could work from home.
Today, we are several weeks down the line, and are seeing four typical IT scenarios. Does one of these ring true of your organisation?
- Your team is able to work from home as before, but it’s over the VPN which is slow, inefficient and costing you money in lost time, unmotivated and unhappy staff.
- Most of your team cannot work on the server while at home, relying on people to email and transfer files to keep things going. VPN access is limited, your team is limping along, and your business has to do something now.
- In the last month, you have spent thousands of pounds upgrading your inhouse servers and software, everything is working OK, but you know you’ll have more to spend in the future.
- You have moved everything to the cloud already, giving your team simple access to what they need. Your team is now focused on their day job, and IT issues and #WFH (working from home) pains are a thing of the past.
If scenario 4 sounds like you, then great. However, if you are in the majority, and find yourself closer to scenario 1, 2 or 3, then read on. It is possible to make things better!
Your IT team may be telling you that you need new hardware, software and consultancy to update the servers to allow this new way of working and it might be tempting to delay making any changes or additional investment for as long as possible. However, with no way of knowing when your team can definitely return to work in the office, now is the time to decide the best way to overcome your #WFH issues.
New servers or move to the cloud?
Of course, there are many factors that affect the decision-making process, but whether you are a ten-man team working in recruitment or a 250 staff Law firm with multiple sites, the principles are the same. Staff should be able to work from home efficiently and effectively.
Put simply, you have two main options – invest in new servers to support your additional needs or create a modern workplace with Cloud-based IT infrastructure instead. So, which is right for you?
Option 1- Invest in hardware and software – On premise
Your previous (existing) server setup will have been scoped for a world before COVID-19, so it is unlikely that it was ready to handle the entire workforce working from home. Furthermore, with the server and on-premise model it has been reported that three of the big disadvantages in the lockdown include gaining access to office premises to install new kit or repair because either no one was there or no one was being let in, scarcity of replacement kit and gaining access to private data centres for repairs where numerous servers are stored. In many cases, it will be possible to upgrade the technology to enable working from home, but that will come at huge capital cost.
You will be well aware that any servers you put into place will likely need to be updated in a few short years and will also need constant management and security patches to ensure reliability.
Not only is this a depreciating asset, it takes up space and (at the moment) it may be hard to purchase the technology due to supply issues.
There is also the consideration that working from home may only be temporary for some of your team, so this will be huge investment to fix a short-term problem.
Although upgrading the hardware now may enable your current team to work from home, you should also consider how your business will look in six months time. If you have 100 people today, do you invest the CAPEX for just those 100 people? Or for 150 people to allow for potential growth? Or just 50 people based on your non-furloughed workforce?
Option 2 – Move to the Cloud
Moving all your IT to the cloud offers the benefit of a very straight forward cost structure. After the initial migration, also known as digital transformation, there are never any capital costs for servers, you just pay monthly depending on the number of users. You never have any over- (or under-) utilised IT assets in the server room, and you can scale as much as you like. You also save space by eliminating the need for bulky servers, communications rooms and the systems that are required to maintain them. You also never have to worry about disaster and recovery issues if the worst happens, such as hardware failure or viruses.
In fact, we have conducted real-life comparisons which show that over a three-year period, our cloud options provide up to 50% better value than the typical solutions provided by more traditional approaches (such as server installations onsite).
Organisations that adopt cloud infrastructure can also open a world of innovative new capabilities, increased cybersecurity (particularly for regulated businesses that require standards for both data compliance and information security) and a smoother end-user experience. And what’s more, our Microsoft hosted cloud solutions are 100% carbon neutral.
How does the cloud work?
Digital transformation and cloud subscription services bring together the best tools for the way people work using Microsoft 365 and Azure, which gives the freedom to manage and deploy applications on a secure global cloud network. Plus, Azure has flexible pay-for-what-you-use pricing options.
This means that employees can access work at any time, even when they’re away from their desks, and then collaborate using Teams (and many other tools) which allow for greater productivity and performance.
Not only does the cloud offer better cybersecurity than your own on-prem server would, it also provides increased visibility. We can create specific data prevention policies that are designed specifically for your industry sector or organisational requirements.
So, should you buy a new server or move to the cloud?
If you like what you know, and are happy to continue buying hardware that needs constant care, and can afford to do so, then buying new servers may suit you.
In the modern workplace where your team is working from home and/or spread in multiple locations, then it makes total sense to move away from a traditional on-prem server model to the cloud. It will also help flex with your business as the world adapts to a new way of working.
Extech Cloud has spent years working on and refining the journey to the cloud. To date, we have successfully completed hundreds of cloud transformation projects. Could you be next? Talk to us now for an initial discussion.
If you are a business owner and have an incumbent supplier that you want to involve (or not), we can be discreet or work alongside them.
Call 01444 443200 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.