cloud computing

Cloud vs on premise: What server is better for you?

The world generates billions of gigabytes of data every day – and it has to go somewhere. As a business, should you host your data on local servers or move to the cloud?

Here is a look at the pros and cons of hosting your data locally versus in the cloud.

Local server: Advantages

More control

Housing your infrastructure on-site gives you physical control over your servers and keeps your critical data close. You generally have faster access to your files and backups, and there is no need for an internet connection to access your data.

Share with flair

Local file sharing offers greater security and control over your data. It is also convenient because the files your employees need are at their fingertips. Users can access the network and files regardless of internet connection, download speeds and upload time.

Back up and breathe easy

Because backup speed doesn’t depend on internet connectivity, backing up your data to an external hard drive is usually quicker than backing up to cloud storage. Once it’s backed up, you know where your data is and you can control who has access to it.

Local server: Disadvantages

Power bills can soar

Compared to the cloud, hosting data on in-house servers requires more energy and drives up your bills. You need power for the servers themselves, as well as more space and cooling.

Need for capital

An in-house server requires a sizeable initial investment in equipment and software. You will also face the costs of renewing software licences, maintaining and upgrading hardware and expanding backup storage infrastructure. If you have several servers, you will probably also need to pay for at least a part-time IT professional.

Cloud: Advantages

Get flexible

Cloud systems are infinitely scalable. You only pay for what you need, and it is usually easy to add or reduce capacity as your requirements change, without the delay caused by upgrading or replacing physical infrastructure.

Keep a lid on spending

Unlike in-house servers, cloud requires no upfront investment, and its pay-as-you-go pricing model can make it easier to manage your budgets and cash flow. Hosting your data off-site can also cut your energy and real-estate costs because you need less physical space.

Be a smooth operator

Cloud removes the cost and stress of managing in-house servers, which is a big benefit if you don’t have a dedicated IT staff member.

Support mobility

Hosting your data in the cloud means you can access that data from any connected device, including a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. This lets employees access and share files from anywhere, which is important if your business has mobile or remote workers. Storing files in the cloud also allows multiple users to work on a single document without version-control issues.

Cloud: Disadvantages

Data-security concerns

Cloud services are generally highly secure, but some businesses are hesitant to use the cloud if they handle sensitive information such as financial data or health records. Unlike local servers, cloud services can be accessed by hackers who don’t have a physical network connection.

Requires constant connection

Cloud-server access requires a fast and reliable connection to the internet – if your internet is down, there is no way for users to access their files. Bandwidth restrictions are also a consideration, as this can result in slow access to content such as videos.

Potential hidden costs

While many cloud vendors purport to be pay-as-you-go providers, often you must commit to a contract that stipulates a minimum cost, regardless of what you use. Be sure to read the fine print on any pricing plans you consider.

When it comes to deciding between local servers and cloud services, remember there are upsides and downsides to both. Many businesses now adopt a hybrid approach where they use the cloud for certain applications while storing sensitive data on in-house servers. But every business is different, so the road you go down ultimately depends on your unique needs.

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windows 10 operating system

Windows 10 Operating System: the OS we should have had in 2012?

After Window 8’s lukewarm reception in 2012, has Microsoft got it right with its upcoming Windows 10 operating system (OS)?

Windows 8 was a radical departure from previous versions, but the company’s efforts to create an all-in-one OS for all devices alienated many users. The familiar Windows desktop and Start button were replaced by a completely redesigned default screen with touch-friendly ‘tiles’ – arguably making it more suited to tablets than conventional laptops and PCs.

With Windows 10, Microsoft appears to have listened to its users, while also introducing a number of new features. The company claims the result is so good it’s worthy of the jump from version 8 to 10 – there is no Windows 9.

So what are the new features? Here’s our top five.

1. A more intelligent interface

Windows 10 will detect what type of device it’s running on and automatically adjust the interface accordingly. For PC and laptop users, that means the traditional Windows desktop and Start menu is back, albeit with a modern design. For tablet users, the interface will remain like Windows 8. Microsoft says Windows 10’s dual interface even works for hybrid devices such as Microsoft’s Surface, which will switch from tablet mode to desktop mode when the keyboard is attached.

The tiles are still available on PCs as well as tablets, providing quick access to handy items such as the new ‘universal apps’ that will run on all Windows 10 devices.

2. A voice-controlled digital assistant

Mobile devices have had the likes of Siri and Google Now for some years, but Microsoft is bringing its new voice-controlled digital assistant, Cortana, to the desktop with Windows 10.

This could be a productivity boon, enabling users to tell the computer to search for files or send an email while working on a Word document. Windows’ multi-tasking capabilities will be further improved with a new task view that allows users to simultaneously view all open apps.

3. A new web browser

Windows 10 will include a new web browser code-named ‘Project Spartan’. It will include a note-taking feature, PDF support and the ability to save and read pages later, even when offline. It will also support Cortana, enabling users to give voice commands such as opening a web page.

Internet Explorer will also be included with the new OS, but Microsoft is clearly readying us for life without the older browser.

4. Virtual 3D environments

Perhaps the biggest surprise revealed at Microsoft’s most recent Windows 10 briefing was a feature called Windows Holographic. This feature will enable developers to create virtual 3D environments via a companion headset called HoloLens.

Games are the most obvious use for Holographic, but Microsoft also cited other applications, such as a virtual tradie to help with home repairs. NASA says it is developing software that will enable its space scientists to explore a virtual Martian landscape.

5. A free upgrade

Windows 10 boasts plenty of other new features. But perhaps best of all, it will be a free upgrade for those with Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft appears to be banking on increased demand for new PCs and other Windows devices boosting its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) business.

So will Windows 10 Operating System be a success when it is released later in 2015?

Only time will tell, but most of those who have seen or beta-tested the new OS are impressed. Or as US analyst Rob Enderle said: “This is what Windows 8 should have been.”

Want to know more?

Need advice on new IT projects, please feel free to contact us for IT services and support in Melbourne.

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