The buzz surrounding cloud computing is beginning to get a little annoying now. Everyone is jumping up and down, ruddy faced and declaring breathlessly that companies no longer have to spend loads of money to increase their computational capabilities in a major way.
In the midst of all this bluster about large data centers and virtualization it seems like the idea of owning your own server is falling by the wayside for all but the largest companies.
It is impossible to get away from the fact that having your own server will cost you more and may act as a physical barrier to large expansion in a short amount of time, but I would argue that there is a simple virtue in not having to rely entirely on an ISP.
Plus, if you have your own server you can ensure that it is always running up to date software. I’m not claiming that all cloud servers don’t keep everything updated, but some are definitely fitted with server manager software (Plesk comes to mind) that won’t touch the LAMP components.
If you do decide to go for your very own server, there are two ways to go about trying to manage the cost: you can either try to build your own or buy one. One of these options seems like it would be substantially cheaper than the other, but first impressions can be deceiving.
Building Your Own Server
Some of you may scoff at the idea of building your own server, but it can be a useful exercise if you desire almost complete control over the hardware that you are using and are willing to invest a lot of time in building and configuring the thing.
While it may at first seem that building your own server will be a vastly cheaper option, I am going to have to stop you there. For a business whose day to day activities is fairly server intensive, it is likely that you will need something with a little more oomph. You could of course go for the ‘scaling out’ option and create a network of homemade servers, but you will feel this is in increased licensing, power and operating costs.
There are also the hidden costs in both time and resources that will come with configuring your server so that it runs in the way that you want. You are not likely to have much flexibility or the ability to quickly scale up or add more servers in the face of an unanticipated load.
All in all it is far simpler and less dependent on your own skills with tools and hardware to just buy a server and get on with it.
Buying Your Own Server
While it may seem like the more expensive option, buying your own server can actually save you a significant amount of expenditure in the future as opposed to self-build. If time is money – as many a business guru has uttered – then you have definitely already made yourself a fairly healthy saving.
The main benefit is quick and simple scalability. Updating your server is a fairly painless experience and can be done relatively quickly and you can even sometime free up quite a lot of space by taking the time to tune your existing queries, schema and server settings. I have even avoided the need to scale completely by doing this.
This ability to be able to quickly react to changes in your business environment and workload is key to being able to grow at a healthy pace as a business. You don’t need to spend an absolute fortune in order to be able to have a centralized architecture while still maintaining the support and expertise of some of the largest and most well respected hardware firms out there.
So in conclusion, just because everyone else is jumping on the cloud bandwagon doesn’t mean you have to relinquish the control you can have if you own your server. Managing the costs though will depend on what path you decide take. For all the adventurous souls who decide to build their own, I salute you and wish you good luck!
What do you guys think of owning your own server, or do you have any tips from your adventures?
James Duval is a technology and business writer who’s currently busy tinkering with his own home server. He writes for Hardware, who supply server parts to businesses of all sizes.