Cloud vs new server: should you replace your server or move to the cloud?

Server versus cloud
Cloud can be cheaper and more efficient than replacing your server

Your server is getting old. You've waited as long as you can: applications are running slower and your machine has reached its limit.

So do you replace it with a new server or move to the cloud?

The case for cloud

On-site hardware is expensive, and it can let you down. That's why many small businesses are looking at moving to the cloud.

Cloud is ideal for small companies; it allows you to be more flexible and save on IT costs, resulting in higher revenues and increased efficiency. It is also scalable, so you can grow as a business while enjoying the capabilities of your larger rivals. Meanwhile, most providers will allow you to try before you buy, so you are not locked into lengthy contracts.

Migrating to the cloud allows you to access data wherever you are, using devices such as smartphones and tablets - great if you or your employees spend a lot of time out in the field.

But perhaps most importantly, using cloud services gives you the security cover that many small businesses lack. Replacing your server with cloud means someone else is making sure you are secure, protecting you and your clients' important data.

When to buy a new server

Of course, there will be small firms who are happy with the existing applications running on their servers and do not wish to move to the cloud. And for some, it's not worth it; cloud can be expensive if you're not careful. With cloud you have to work out your monthly cost per user - then multiply by 12 to get the amount a year would cost. Therefore, short term, buying a new server for a single lump sum can be cheaper.

Also, if you don't have a dedicated IT manager and already have a contract with an IT company, you may not wish to complicate things by moving. You can use other, free, cloud services such as Dropbox and Box without moving your server over, too.

The verdict

Replacing your server might seem like the cheaper option, but it will not always be right for small firms. For example, if you buy a server, you have to factor in that you are building a system that needs to adjust to all potential growth.

On the other hand, buying a cloud solution - such as those provided by Dell - allows you to only purchase what you need; over the long term it can cut costs and allow you to scale as your business grows.

Cloud is also the best option for small businesses with remote workers or staff out in the field. It is more secure too; you are future-proofing your data by asking an external provider to host your server.

If you decide to dump your server, moving to cloud is simple. Costs are already coming down, and as adoption increases, the technology is becoming even more accessible for small firms.