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grunt work
software firewalls
upfront payments
Keeping Your Internal And External Servers Separate
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These days you would be hard pressed to find anyone other than the IT managers of the largest and most resource-rich global companies arguing the benefits of a completely internal server setup. Likewise, while there has been much collective foaming at the mouth over the possibilities of the cloud, not many companies would be willing to hand over all of their data to a third party.

And so the inner mediatory impulse inside a lot of us sends us out in search of the perfect and balanced third way. Is there a compromise position that allows for some control over the really important systems and data that your company depends on and reaping the benefits of not having to pay software license costs and having a third party do all of the grunt work?

Many companies are now implementing a hybrid mixture of internal and external hosting in their server setups, whereby the really important and secret stuff is kept internally and external hosting is deployed for the actual website, database or ecommerce structure.

But does this way make sense and is it worth doing?

The Internal

The benefits of having an internally hosted intranet that keeps your most important and/or sensitive data are that this hub of your business is owned and operated by you and your team. Although you may have to make upfront payments in order to initially set up an internal network, especially the hardware for a decent server computer, and then install all the all the necessary software, firewalls and VPN, this means you have control over such important areas as authentication, the regularity of backups and disaster recovery. As well as circumventing any software restrictions and functions you can perform that may come with third party hosting, in the long run hosting your intranet internally could be much less expensive than paying an external company to do it.

Bear in mind that you can reduce costs by buying refurbished hardware, too.

The External

Once you have the internal core of your business under your control and protection, you can set about reaping the many benefits of external hosting for the rest of your operations. One of the main benefits that is regularly touted here is the savings in cost and the potential for rapid scalability. The costs of hosting your entire website or ecommerce structure and all the relevant databases can be huge and it is also a job that requires a lot of dedicated manpower, so it can make a lot of sense to place the day to day maintenance of these servers into the hands of a dedicated third party.

Keeping them separate

The main strategic benefits of this approach come from the distinct separateness of these two points of your businesses infrastructure. On the one hand you have all of the data guarantees and technical expertise that comes from the third party external hosting company, while on the other you have not submitted complete control and still have substantial room for manoeuvre.

The control that having your own server computer can give you should not be under-estimated. Similarly, external services can help make managing your less important data and hosting websites much easier, while maintaining security by restricting access to internal data.

Something to keep in mind with this approach is the need to keep BYODs out, as allowing people to bring equipment from home could easily compromise your internal servers by exposing them to external influences.

Does this approach make sense?

This approach does have a number of distinct advantages for companies of all sizes in today’s business environment. Choosing a purely internal or external server setup simply leaves companies with a limited set of options as compared to the mixed strategy.

The main benefits of external hosting are often said to be flexibility and the potential for quick up and down scalability. In a mixed strategy, not only are these benefits kept but they are also partially transferred to the internal server as well. Since there is only one internal server, license, upgrade and scalability costs are drastically reduced.

Similarly, the main benefits of an internal hosting strategy are control over important systems and data and the fact that this sensitive data is handled internally. Again, both of these benefits are maintained in the mixed approach but the lowered costs and the fact that less internal manpower is required due to the external hosting means that this control can be maintained at a much lower cost to the company.

This mixed approach is not the magic bullet that will necessarily solve all of your server problems, but it does seem to be the option with the most flexibility, protection of core assets and cost effectiveness built into it.

What do you guys think about the benefits I have laid out here of a mixed server strategy?

Street Talk

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