the complete service including the cost
of the software licenses. Once you decide
that moving your IT to the cloud makes
sense, you then have to decide which of
many options is best for you.
Reduced cost, while important, is not
the only benefit of hosting. Outsourcing
technology maintenance frees your staff
to focus on your core business and spend
time on high-level special projects rather
than the important day-to-day care and
feeding of your critical infrastructure.
Another big benefit of using a hosted
approach is that scalability is easier to
accomplish—a company simply pays
for more capacity as needed. This keeps
capital freed up for investment elsewhere
in the business.
Hosting should include disaster recovery services, which are an important part
of your business continuity plan. In such
an arrangement, data is encrypted and
backed up on a nightly basis to secure,
hardened co-locations. In the event of a
catastrophic failure at the primary location, operations can be switched to the secondary location in a matter of minutes. The
risk to critical infrastructure from natural
disasters is uniquely mitigated when you
host at a first-rate hosting facility.
Finally, when hosting your technology infrastructure, both hardware and
software stay fresh. Servers are replaced
on a regular basis and cloud-based applications are automatically upgraded
for you with every new release. You don’t
fall behind in technology for lack of time
or resources because the service ensures
you are current.
◗;Lower start-up costs
◗;Management by system experts, when
your software provider and hosting
provider are one and the same
◗;Frees up IT staff time by offloading
◗;Highly scalable offerings with the flexibility to quickly meet new demands as
◗;Provides built-in disaster recovery
◗;Applications are automatically upgraded and hardware is replaced on a
regularly scheduled basis.
◗;What happens if the provider’s main
facility fails? Is there redundancy?
◗;What is the data migration plan?
◗;Who owns the data?
◗;Does the provider offer Service Level
◗;Are customization and integration
with custom systems an issue?
◗;Is there complete and exclusive control
over data and processes?
◗;Are there multiple paths to the Internet in the event a major bandwidth
provider is down?
◗;Does the hosting become more cost-effective over time and as your business grows?
Today’s technology gives organizations a
great deal of choice. Advances in computing power and storage capabilities at a
fraction of the cost of just a decade ago
have made it possible to choose from
a number of options. Whether they are
start-ups with ten or fewer employees
or 500-person strong organizations, decisions based on technology need to be
made with a clear understanding of costs
Successful deployment of technology –
be it through a hosted or self-hosted model (or something in between) – depends on
understanding what your business needs
and why. Applications and services need
to be run where they are most efficient
and effective to your organization. TSL
Dustin Smith is the manager of internal IT
operations at Bayside Business Solutions and
is responsible for hosted services provided
to Bayside’s clients. He has worked for
diverse businesses in a variety of technical
areas, including networking, virtualization,
troubleshooting, and project management.
Smith is a Microsoft Certified Professional
with additional certifications in VMWare,
MCITS, Server Administration, Microsoft
Active Directory/Windows 2008/Networking
& Infrastructure Comtia A+, Comptia Net, and
There are some matters that you need to
look hard at when considering hosting.
Foremost, how secure is the provider? Are
they SSAE- 16 certified? Do they offer multiple failover sites? How financially strong
are they? Do they have references you can
contact, whose operations are similar to
your business model? These are matters
that should be verified in writing before
you make a move.
The initial handover of your company’s
data to a hosting provider, known as
migration, is the first challenge of the new
hosting relationship. Before you proceed,
you need to be satisfied that the methodology is sound and that the provider
will work with you every step of the way
to ensure absolute accuracy after the
You need to retain complete ownership of your data—all rights, title,
interest, including all Intellectual Property Rights, protected information, and
customer information. And you need to
ensure that at the end of your hosting
arrangement, there is a plan for returning
your data to you.
What happens if there is a major Internet service interruption? Your provider
should offer multiple paths of broadband
access to your system so your operation
isn’t left dead in the water. Before you
start, you should verify that the provider
has an excellent record of service availability, ideally one backed by a service-level agreement.
Hosted solutions come in different
sizes, for different companies. Some
providers place a limit on the degree of
customization that is possible. Some
allow you to host your own equipment,
while others don’t. Just as your business
changes over time, so will your hosting
needs. You’ll need to revisit the relationship from time to time to make sure it is
continuing to provide the efficiencies that
attracted you to it in the first place.
Do your research and ask questions:
◗;How secure is the service provider?
◗;Is the provider certified? Can they
demonstrate that they continually test
and audit their processes?