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July 07, 2015

The Benefits of Cloud Computing vs Self-Hosted VDI Solutions

All too often we feel that the way things have been done in the past are the best. In some cases, this adage may hold true, however, with so many advances in computing technology and infrastructure improvements over the last decade, it may be time to rethink this strategy. This is especially true when it comes to the concepts of cloud computing and self-hosted network solutions. The deciding points you have to look at are varied and when it comes to the absolute bottom line, Which is actually better? Let's take a look.

- Security - One of the hardest issues to deal with today are security issues. With constant patches and updates to the Windows platform to plug security gaps, and with Windows being perhaps the most used platform on the planet for in-house systems, this can spell trouble. While no system is totally hack-proof as several high profile news stories have shown, *nix systems (*nix being some version of Unix or Linux) aren't subject to viruses which usher in so many Windows security risks. Since most cloud networks are *nix based, security is automatically significantly better.

- Software - Many systems today are using some form of web based applications. This means in-house systems have to include some type of internet server to provide access to in-house users as well as access to outside clients such as outside salesmen and delivery drivers. This adds to the load on the external systems and creates a need for a more complex internal network as well. Since cloud based systems already have the infrastructure in place for these applications as well as SaaS and DaaS storage and support, internal needs are reduced dramatically.

- Accessibility - Cloud computing, by definition, is immediately accessible anywhere an internet connection is available. Whether that be by hardwired ethernet, wifi or even via a 3G/4G cellular link, software and data access is essentially always available. With a self-hosted networking solution, not only is internet access required (both inbound and outbound) but additional security layers such as a VPN setup are necessary as well.

- Service & Support - With in-house systems, support and service is a constant struggle. Not only do operating systems and security patches have to be kept current on servers, but on user systems as well. New systems have to be put in place on a regular basis to ensure compatibility with software. For a large corporation, this can require thousands of dollars per quarter and requires an IT department with a large staff. With cloud computing, businesses can maintain a much smaller IT budget since users only need as much computer as required to access the internet with current browsers. Since many computing models are based on cloud computing, this opens the door for desktop systems to be replaced with significantly cheaper thin clients.

- Cost - This section is probably the biggest concern for most companies. In-house servers and networks require not only constant maintenance and updates but hardware upgrades and replacements as well. As businesses grow, server capacity has to be increased, more user systems have to be put in place (which requires even more maintenance) and software has to be changed and replaced as well. While the power of each individual computer has increased dramatically over the last few years, the costs for hardware and software have remained somewhat static.

However, cloud computing changes the cost picture dramatically. Whether you switch to a total off-site cloud based setup or you build your own in-house cloud for superior control over security and updates for servers, costs are significantly decreased. That's because client systems such as Windows desktops can be replaced with thin client terminal-type solutions. Not only are these much cheaper to buy than desktop systems due to simpler designs and lower build costs, but maintenance costs virtually disappear. Most updates and upgrades take place on the server side of the equation which, if your cloud is totally off-site, can reduce your server maintenance costs to virtually nil.

On the whole, especially with bandwidth being cheap, cloud computing becomes significantly more attractive as a networking solution than in-house hosting. Costs for client systems, bandwidth and support services have always been a significant part of doing business and, with cloud computing, those costs drop dramatically. If your business is looking for a way to reduce IT costs, cloud computing may be the next stage of your computing evolution.