Dedicated Servers v Cloud Servers

February 22, 2016

As cost of operating businesses escalates in Singapore especially in recent years, many companies are looking for ways to reduce their fixed overheads while maintaining a productive work force. As office space leasing agents, we constantly encounter management executives looking at ways to make Information Technology Systems (IT Systems) within the company run more efficiently, effectively and in a safer environment.

We take this opportunity to look at the dedicated servers versus cloud servers and see how SMEs in Singapore can adopt some cost cutting measures to make things work for them.

In a dedicated server environment, a physical space (often less than 100 sf) fitted with a temperature sensor has to be maintained below 20 degrees Celsius at all times. In most BCA greenmark certified buildings, the cost of implementation to have the server room kept at a constant temperature 24/7/365 can be quite significant. One client we had had his done for upwards of S$30,000.00 The space leased preferably has to have raised flooring (the absence of which, wires will have to be run above the ceiling boards) and a fire extinguisher (note the expiry date on the extinguisher for safety compliance) has to be placed in close proximity. Access to the server room is typically via an automated keycard access system (employees are monitored via their access cards), and it serves its purpose of monitoring the movements of employees in and out of the server room. A physical server rack (with the dedicated server) and network switches are set up with all workstations connect to the port of the network switches. A dedicated server is thus great for businesses needing an exceptional high level of data security.

The server utilizes existing power from the building and any disruption in power supply from the building will activate the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to prevent any server down time. Depending on the battery life, the UPS keeps the server running for the next 2-6 hours without any interruption or loss of data.

The dedicated server has to be maintained annually by a trained professional and it’s advisable to have at least 20% additional space set aside for increased usage of the server and an emergency response team put in place should the need arises.

For companies relocating, special logistical assistance has to be sought to avoid damaging the server and other hardware devices during transport. If the server runs out of space, a bigger server has to be purchased and there could possibly be some server down time during the migration of data from one server to the other.

The cloud server model, on the other hand, operates on a per user basis. This means it’s a variable business cost rather than fixed cost. Network switches and routers are still indispensible but they require a much smaller physical space now. There are less hardwares required compared to dedicated servers, no space limitations (as businesses can scale their servers up or down depending on needs), very little risk of physical break-ins albeit the risk of being hacked virtually is still omnipresent. There is no requirement to maintain full-time IT staffs as such positions can conveniently be outsourced. There’s virtually no down time as all the information are hosted on cloud servers and cost is effectively spread among a broad base of users. Last but not the least, both the IOS and Android are compatible with cloud servers thereby allowing the management of cloud servers using one’s mobile which is not possible for dedicated servers.

The debate between the two different types of servers could go on indefinitely. Ultimately, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. While the purpose of writing this article is not to lean towards any of the solutions, it does highlight a potential alternative to the discerning tenant when he is actively looking out for more cost-effective options.

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