by Taylor Mack, Director of Implementation Services at TempWorks

When considering the path of either hosting your own software infrastructure (“self-hosted”) or using the service of a hosting vendor, the crux of the discussion revolves around the cost and the return of the expenditure. This type of expenditure is typically quantified through the expressions of TCO (“total cost of ownership”) and ROI (“return on investment”).

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For smaller organizations, an apples to apples comparison of the metrics of TCO and ROI is a safe way to determine your preferred model.

What are the topics that require analysis before an informed decision can be made? The following categories help shed light on
which hosting model may offer the best value for the dollar:


This topic has become a significantly larger portion of the discussion as technology continues to allow a more diverse range of ways in which we can access and manipulate data.

From the self-hosted side of the equation, the measure is expertise. Most companies, unless already operating at an enterprise scale with their infrastructure are not going to have this expertise in-house and will need to procure this skill from outside the company.

A hosted solution provider is going to already have this expertise within their organization and will offer even the smallest of
organizations the same level of security that the enterprise example above would employ.


This is one of the more impractical aspects of the self-hosted model. For most businesses, the idea of creating and maintaining a completely separate, secondary set of servers and internet connectivity (on the chance that the primary system in use fails) is a non-starter because of the cost alone.

The hosted model eliminates the dollar signs associated with a secondary set of servers. Hosting providers are categorized on their ability to withstand outages and disasters; they build infrastructures with this very point as central to the operation.


This is an ongoing process that figures into the TOC of an IT infrastructure. It usually requires one or more full-time employees to not only maintain the equipment and deployed software, but to constantly keep abreast of the technological improvements as they become available to the market.

It’s common for self-hosted entities to neglect this aspect or approach it with a laissez faire attitude - deferring maintenance of both machine and software until a requirement leaves no other choice.

The hosted model would have dedicated staff to oversee this aspect, and product delivery & maintenance is typically their priority.


Like the Security and Maintenance topics discussed already, expertise in the use and application of specific equipment and software is required in creating and maintaining a workable and effective backup solution. As with most of the subjects discussed here, the self-hosted customer generally needs to go outside the organization for a workable solution and/or the expertise.

The hosted model would utilize several strategies and methodologies to ensure that the backup of crucial data is only minutes away from being restored in the event of a loss or catastrophe.

There are, of course, other important considerations such as cost, time investment, support, consistency of service, etc. Yet in looking at whether one should consider to host or not to host, the answer is simple for me:

Unless I can employ the economies of scale that large business enterprises are able to bring to their technology needs, I am drawn to the option of the hosted environment. It allows me the ability to leverage an organization whose methodology and equipment maintain higher levels of competence than I could sustain if I was required to create and maintain the infrastructure myself.