Assessing cost and suitability of different IT infrastructure setups

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Assessing cost and suitability of different IT infrastructure setupsThe idea of owning every element of your IT infrastructure may be appealing for a variety of reasons but often mixed ownership provides greater benefits. Key to deciding what method to apply is understanding the particular requirements of your specific IT structure

Whether your ICT Strategy is devised internally or by consultants there are a few key factors to keep in mind:

  • Consider each component of your infrastructure separately and how it operates in your company's IT environment
  • Consider what are you key business applications. What are the challenges, goals and issues that are likely to arise
  • Consider existing usage requirements and how those requirements are likely to scale in the future as well as how much scalability can be afforded

Owning your Server or Hosting your Software

Cost is the central factor determining the benefit of purchasing a server and there are several factors that determine a server's cost effectiveness.

Pros

  • The initial outlay is likely to be less in the long term when compared to the accumulated monthly payments associated with renting servers
  • Software is purchased upfront and usually remains functionally intact regardless of whether or not you purchase upgrades
  • Older hardware can be useful for long periods particularly with a "break-fix" contract that involves occasionally calling in IT support technician to deal with server issues as they occur.

Cons

  • On site solutions are likely to involve additional power and cooling costs while also being more vulnerable to local service interruptions such as power outages.
  • Judging how much additional server capacity to purchase for future growth without overspending is challenging
  • Ongoing maintenance may require permanent IT staff

Connecting to the Cloud or Investing in Software as a Service

The overarching benefits of remote services are clear. There are no additional IT maintenance costs. The product is paid for only as needed. The processing burden on local machines is significantly reduced allowing companies to use less expensive or more portable devices.

However, each type of service has its own attributes to consider.

Cloud Considerations

Pros

  • Minimal upfront layout
  • Similar or better security to servers with almost unlimited scalability
  • Software can be purchased outright or paid by subscription

Cons

  • Over time accumulated expenditure can exceed upfront purchase of servers
  • Difficult for different applications such as ERP and CRM to integrate without cooperation between vendors
  • Where you pay per application, costs can rise quickly if many applications are used in conjunction

SaaS (Software as a Service) Considerations

Pros

  • Upfront costs are limited or nonexistent and ongoing costs are ‘self provisioning'
  • Bundling of implementation and upgrade costs is particularly attractive to companies with limited resources for large outlay

Cons

  • It can be difficult to determine whether the costs over a 5-10 year period will exceed those of a server purchase
  • Should payments to the vendor cease, system access is lost completely
  • If the vendor goes out of business it may take months to set up a new system which may cripple a business

When weighing up the various benefits and challenges of each solution it becomes clear that certain solutions are likely to work best for particular aspects of an IT system. Complete reliance on one solution or another may not be prudent. Understanding your IT infrastructure, its needs, and requirements allows for more refined solutions such as a gradual integration of cloud services where they will be most effective.

More and more businesses are recognising the benefits of hybrid IT infrastructure with combined solutions becoming increasingly common.

Clearly defining the long term objectives of your IT structure is critical to developing a cost effective solution. Long term IT infrastructure costs should be measured against requirements for achieving those objectives.

Working with professional ICT consultancy is the most efficient means of assessing IT infrastructure needs. Comprehensive services such as those offered by Trilogy Technologies in Dublin can help you to develop a complete ICT strategy that includes business continuity planning as well as providing managed services such as infrastructure optimisation and monitoring.