The new economy of the internet has revolutionised business. No longer are people restricted by time or location. It is now possible to find and order what you need at a time that’s suitable for you, from the comfort of your living room couch. Of course, this new economy hasn't been kind to everyone. There is a string of high street institutions no longer around because of their failure to compete with online rivals. For businesses that have adapted, though, offering 24/7 availability to customers has helped to increase revenues and driven growth way beyond that which is possible during typical 9 to 5 operating hours.
Your business can literally make you money while you sleep.
But is that always a good thing?
Making money 24/7 means being available 24/7. Not so much in terms of a customer service presence — most people are happy to accept that teams are only available during daylight hours — but from an actual visibility standpoint. Your business has to be online and functioning round the clock, which means someone has to monitor IT infrastructure and react quickly to problems to prevent downtime 24/7, 365 days a year.
Monitoring IT Infrastructure: In-House Hosting vs Data Centres
A dedicated server room housed in your office comes with many benefits: you own your equipment, you manage and modify systems on your own terms, and you’re in complete control of security.
It also means that someone has to be on call if an alert comes in at 3am to say that your website is down.
As a small-to-medium sized business, keeping someone on call to react to issues is not a huge problem. If your business isn’t online, it isn’t making money, which is usually motivation enough to head down to the office to investigate the issue.
The real challenge is dealing with the problem at hand.
Performing a simple server reboot or restoring deleted files are easy fixes for a lot of problems, but what happens if downtime is caused by an overheated hard drive due to a broken cooling system? Replacement parts aren’t available for delivery 24 hours a day.
Or what if there’s a power cut in the local area? How long your business is offline is then in the hands of the National Grid.
Being on call for your own in-house servers is only useful when fixing the problem is within the capabilities of the technician that responds.
Contrast this to a housing your servers at a data centre.
First of all, unless you want to be, you don’t have to be on call at all. Data centres house thousands of servers and operate 24 hours a day to ensure uptime isn’t compromised. If you go with colocation, the equipment is still yours and you have full control over how it’s managed, but the challenges of solving infrastructure problems in-house are removed.
Data centres have IT professionals on-site to provide support whenever you need it. Anomalies can be spotted in real-time and solutions implemented before they turn into major issues without you even getting out of bed. And if you notice that your website is offline, a quick call to the data centre can see the problem resolved.
The advantage that data centres have over in-house server rooms is that they are purpose built. Redundant backup systems are in place for electricity, climate control, and network access. Backup generators are also located on-site to prevent downtime in the event of power outage.
Which Is the Better Solution for You?
Thanks to the infrastructure in place and the high level of support, problems that result in downtime in a data centre are minimised, meaning a few more peaceful night's sleep a year. It seems obvious that this is the better solution.
But managing your own servers gives you complete control over everything. You can get fully hands-on to perform backups and recoveries as well as maintain security.
It really comes down to four things:
- Location — How close to the office you reside. Do you really want to be driving an hour to the office in the middle of the night?
- Size — The larger the business the greater the demands. It is much easier to maintain IT infrastructure for small businesses with fewer server demands
- Cost — What is the cost of using a data centre vs paying an IT professional to be on call?
- Personal preferences — How much do you value your in-house setup versus data centre infrastructure
What’s your take? Does a data centre make the most sense or do you prefer the hands-on approach that an in-house server room provides? Let us know. We’re keen to hear your thoughts!