Technology – The death of the on-premise server

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This is another installment of my Technology posts, geared towards those of us who are technology professionals and support users or clients.

The catch line that’s trendy today is that of the imminent death of the on-premise computer server. With all the technological advances in cloud computing and hosted services, it makes sense to believe that the on-premise infrastructure will disappear. But in all reality, will it ?

I believe that we’re getting far too ahead of ourselves when we make statements like “on-site servers are going to be gone within a few years”. There are many, many aspects to consider when we talk about on-premise ownership compared to cloud hosted services. Here are just a few of the questions that need to be asked:

– Who owns the data ?
– Does this comply with local privacy legislation and statutes ?
– How secure is the data ?
– Do international laws apply, or will my data be governed by laws outside my jurisdiction ?
– Do I have the bandwidth required for cloud hosted services ?
– How much control do I really have when I farm out my requirements to the cloud ?
– Is it really cheaper ?

There are so many questions and considerations that need to be taken into account when we think about the death of the on-premise server. One of, if not the biggest is going to be price. When we look at today’s small business servers, we can get into brand new hardware and Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 Essentials operating system (which includes all licensing for up to 25 users) for around $2,000.00 USD. When we look at annual or per-user costs for popular cloud services, they can add up pretty quickly. 100 GB of shared storage on Dropbox will cost $164.85 USD per month for 15 users. That’s $1,978.20 per year. After your first year, you’ve already paid what it would have cost to buy that on-premise server. Sure, there are additional considerations when it comes to TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership, like what support and administration for that on-premise server will cost, but keep in mind the additional features and options you will get as well with an on-premise server in this hypothetical scenario. Not only do you get file sharing abilities, you get a built-in VPN features, Active Directory, Group Policy Management, DNS and DHCP services, etc.

My point is, different scenarios will require different solutions. Some organizations may benefit from having an on-premise server, and some organizations may do just fine with something like Dropbox. Bottom line, the on-premise server still exists and still serves purposes than can’t be filled with cloud hosted services. Will that change in the future ? It very well may. But that’s not today.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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