Technology is comprised of three basic components: hardware, software and people.

That third one might throw you for a loop, but people are what technology is all about. Without people, technology just sits there, directionless and meaningless.

How many of you remember using punch cards? You all have heard stories of mainframes consuming entire floors. Lines of cubicles were filled with punch card operators to provide technology that’s equivalent to a singing birthday card from today.

Where did we evolve from there? Servers. Many of you still have servers in your office today. Throughout the years they’ve been getting smaller and more powerful. I remember the first network I supported in the late nineties. We had about 20 servers to do what 3 servers can do now.

But buying and maintaining those servers is expensive. To expect every company to have their own IT staff is unrealistic for many budgets. Enter “The Cloud.”

Cloud vs. Self-Hosted

Not a big fan of the word "cloud". I remember about ten years ago when I made a chart of a network using Visio. The icon that represented the internet was a big cloud.  The head lady was not very technical and she kept calling the internet “the cloud” because she didn’t understand what the icon stood for. Everyone in the meeting kept laughing.

It’s even funnier to think that’s what everyone calls it now.

In the past few years, many of you have been considering moving to the cloud, but what really does that mean? And what are the pros and cons to moving to the cloud?

Simply put: data is data. We access data every time we read an email or pull up a website. Where this data resides is what we are talking about.

You have three major components to your data.

  1. WHAT is the data?
  2. WHERE is the data?
  3. WHO can access the data?

Anyone remember the days of coming into work for the fast internet? In 1999, not many people could afford $500/month for an ISDN connection that was about the speed of two dial up (modem) connections.

Now we have more speed in our homes than what 100 of those ISDN lines could do. Internet speeds are so fast now that your data can be accessed from anywhere in the world almost as quickly as it would if the server were sitting right next to you.

This opens up possibilities like we’ve never seen.

Let’s go back to our three components. #1: What is the data? It could be email. It could be your weekly reports. It could be 200 hilarious pictures of your dog taking a bath. Whatever it is, you need it and you need it now.

#2: Where is the data? Now we start talking about cloud vs. self-hosted. Is the data on a server in your building? Or is it on a server in Munich? Does it even matter?

That brings us to the most important point: #3: WHO can access the data?

Accessibility is the #1 most important part to all of this. What good is data if no one can get to it? On the other hand, how secure is your data if EVERYONE can get to it?

When people start comparing cloud vs self-hosted, many times security is where people start the conversation. All of you have confidential data. Not a single person reading this wants to share their company database with the world.

Security is important, but like all technology, it doesn’t come down to ones and zeros – it’s about people.

WHO is managing your data? WHO is protecting your data? WHO is making sure that not only the RIGHT people have access; but that they have it at all times and make it accessible in the most convenient way possible?

Is it your IT person? Do you have a staff? Who is auditing them to make sure you are secure? What would happen if your IT person quit today?

When you host your own data, you have more control. More control over your hardware, more control over your software, more control over your people.

That’s great. When you REALLY want to know what’s going on, you have direct access to everything. But it also means you better know what you’re doing.

For smaller companies it’s less of a question of should we move to the cloud, but where in the cloud should we be? Advanced technology is now available to smaller companies because hosting companies buy hardware and services in bulk and can turn around and charge much less for it.

Instead of buying a server for $5,000, and paying $500/month for stable internet and paying $5,000/mo for an IT specialist they can rent a decent server for around $150/month and have all of the support and security services included.

Most times I will choose to host a public-facing website in the cloud. I do this to keep the possibility of the entire world trying to get to my site at the same time. I could not afford to have my internal network go down because 2 million people are trying to access my public website at once.

I typically choose to host my own private data, simply because I’m a control freak and I know how to manage a data center.

Staffing software provider TempWorks Software gives you the choice. You can host your staffing data with TempWorks or you can host it yourself.

Which should you choose? That’s entirely up to you. Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought – and some points to consider. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

Tags: IT, Technology, The Cloud, Cloud computing, Data, Self-Hosted