Tom Shanley, SVP of Technology Services for SmartSource  

Have you ever plopped down on the couch to unwind, opened up Netflix, and spent more time looking for something to watch than watching a movie or TV show? Wading through the endless sea of options we don’t want, whether at home or work, detracts from time better spent focusing on a smaller set of choices that meet our actual needs and desires.   

One of the big IT challenges organizations face today is having too many options. Decisions ranging from what computers your employees should be using to whether customer-sensitive data should reside on an on-site managed server or in the cloud all require thorough analysis. With so many directions to choose from, it’s easy to end up going down the wrong path.   

When meeting with business owners of new startups, I’m often asked about the pros and cons of hosting data in the cloud. People want to know whether they should be keeping their company’s data in the office or on a personal or “private” cloud. To identify which is best takes an understanding of your current and desired business processes moving forward. To start, we need to know what the differences are between these options.   

Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage vs On-site 

Hosting your data in-house, wherein your servers are at the office, requires the maintenance of your hardware, software, and authentication measures in place to safeguard access. 

Hosting your data in a private cloud, wherein your servers and networking equipment reside in a data center like Switch, requires the same upkeep of keeping your servers and networking in-house but provides an added benefit of having your systems in a locked-down facility, which greatly limits the ability of a breach.  

Both the on-site managed server and private cloud approaches grant you the ability to manually scale your IT data services on your own terms, increasing storage or resources as needed, for an up-front, one-time cost. If you need more storage or speed, you simply buy more drives or add components for speed.   

Outsourcing Your Storage to a Cloud Provider   

A third option, which is becoming more prevalent, is having no onsite network management and simply outsourcing the hosting of your data to outside vendors like, Office 365, or Google’s G Suite. Doing so is easy, removes the burden of maintaining an infrastructure, and allows employees to access whatever they may need via a web browser. However, spreading your various types of data, such as your email, applications, and common file types across different hosting platforms, can create authentication management that is difficult to scale. 

When you use one hosted service to store your files, another to host your emails, and yet another to host your line-of-business applications, you could be creating a scenario wherein each of your employees has different credentials to log into each. In doing so, you have no centralized way to manage permissions across all of these services. 

Consulting with a trusted managed IT services adviser can help you identify which option is best for your business, as well as how to maintain control of your hosting services if you decide to spread them out.