Cloud computing has been an increasingly popular buzz term in business and personal computing over the last few years, thanks to its promise to virtualize, well, virtually everything. From email to data storage to dedicated backups to a host of interactive, web-based applications, the virtual nature of the cloud offers organizations more flexibility, scalability, and accessibility. It promises to increase employee productivity and usability while reducing the need for in-house servers.

It’s Just Not That Simple

Despite all the hype about cloud-based servers and cloud computing providers, however, the reality for most organizations is that running all their services and apps in the cloud is just not realistic–yet. Think about why organizations tap managed IT services to manage their networks. By outsourcing IT, companies can increase user productivity and focus more on their core business objectives. Organizations are relying increasingly on managed IT companies such as ours to not only manage networks and technology, but to help them strike the balance between productivity and cost-effectiveness. That’s the job of any IT company worth its salt. Sure, we could push for every SMB we work with to go all cloud, all the time, but that’s not necessarily what works best for an organization’s efficiency—or its bottom line.

Factoring It All In

What we find is that for most organizations, it’s just not cost-effective to go to an entirely cloud-based network, nor does it always facilitate increased user productivity. Now, that can vary from one company to the next, depending on a number of factors, including the size of the network, the types of services and apps the organization needs to run, the level of security required, the number of employees who work remotely, an organization’s cash flow and access to capital, and so on. These are all points a leading IT company will consider when planning and designing an organization’s network.

A Piece of the Puzzle

Cloud computing providers offer just one of many “tools” an outsourced IT company can leverage to build the ideal network model for an organization. Most SMBs today benefit from employing a hybrid server model—one that runs some apps and services in the cloud and houses others on an in-house server. So, when a company is considering whether to scrap their in-house server—or forgo investing in a new one, it’s wise to consider the following: an in-house server has about a five-year lifespan, and once you factor in all the hardware and software it needs to supply your organization with the tech it needs, you’re typically still looking at a significant cost savings over replicating that entire network in the cloud.

By the Numbers

For example, let’s say your in-house server and all its requisite hardware and software costs about $15,000. Because you’ll pay for cloud-based services on a monthly basis, you might pay, say $500 a month. By the middle of your third year in the cloud, you’ll have shelled out $15,000 already. So, considering this, it’s obviously cheaper, in the long run, to use an in-house server vs. a cloud-based server. However, as we discussed previously, cloud computing providers offer a host of benefits your in-house server simply can’t deliver. It makes sense then, for most companies to consider a thoughtfully designed mix of services and apps, some housed in the cloud and others kept, well, in house!

Mix It Up

With an organization’s network designs, a managed IT service provider should leverage the tools that that can help the client best achieve its business and financial objectives, while ensuring the network delivers the best possible mix of performance, security, and disaster recovery protection. Though an IT provider should always evaluate each network individually, we’ve found that the cloud is generally a tool well suited to the needs of hosted email and backup solutions.

Are there other great uses for cloud technology? Absolutely. Cloud computing providers have a valuable and justified place in SMB networks—but homing in on the right mix of in-house and cloud-based apps and services takes careful planning and the consideration of multiple factors that are unique to your organization. As with most things IT-related, it’s all about finding the right balance.

Now What?

Considering how your organization can leverage a hybrid network model? Want to find out if you’ve got the right mix of cloud-based and in-house server technology? Contact Real IT Care for a comprehensive systems assessment!