Well, I’m always a cautious adopter of new technologies; I like to think them through carefully, weigh up the pros and cons, and of course do a proper cost-benefit analysis. Sure I live and play with technology daily and shiny new gadgets speak to my inner-geek, but I am still running a business and responsible for guiding my clients in their technology investments – so a little pragmatism goes a long way.
A few months ago, spurred on by Eskom (let’s not even go there) we decided to migrate the companies e-mail to a VPS (Cloud) server. The logistics took a little planning to avoid downtime, a few grey hairs developed in the process – but I cannot tell you how happy I am to have made the move. Previously, my mail ran quite nicely on a server in the office. Johannesburg and Cape Town offices both pulled their mail from the server sitting upstairs in the tech-support area. A nice traditional solution that required an upgrade of the server every 3 years, re-purchasing software licences every 3 or so years and of course a little maintenance to keep it on the go – and obviously a connection to the internet with a dash of speed to make it all happen.
While very reluctant to have my mail sitting far away from me, I must admit that the business benefits far outweighed the in-house solution. Here’s how I set about calculating the costs:
On Site Server
Hardware Costs – R 20 000 (divide by 3 to achieve an annual cost) R 7 000.000 (yes yes, I like to work with round numbers)
Connectivity (Fibre over Air) – R 1 500pm (ADSL was just too slow for 20 people’s e-mails, let alone browsing)
Licencing – R 5 000 (annual budgeting against estimated upgrade costs and Rand/Dollar)
Annual on-site costs – R 2 500pm (and yes, I’ve rounded things to keep the numbers pretty)
Cloud Based VPS with Exchange – R 2 300.00
So, there we’re talking nuts and bolts really. A cost saving of R2500 per year, not really worth too much attention. What did get my attention however, was the peace of mind that the VPS is regularly backed up, my mail is stored securely in a state-of-the-art data centre straight onto a fibre line, so that I have fast access to my mail at all times. Add to that the convenience of being able to sync my calendar to my cellphone and tablet and it’s a pretty good deal. Then I started accessing my Outlook from outside the country while I was travelling and I really felt the benefit. Speeds were as good as ever, I had instant access through Outlook, irrespective of where in the world I roamed. No certificate errors, no latency – just quick e-mail on demand on the device of my choice.
Certainly there are other benefits that come with an in-house server, but there are as many benefits with a hosted solution. To me the main problem solved all the way around, is that with or without load shedding or Telkom working on the lines, I have my mission critical business e-mails all the time flowing to my phone/tablet or laptop. As a business decision, it’s all about continuity, stability and reliability. Those three stacked up well and I’m as happy with my VPS based mail as can be with a fixed monthly cost that is independent of the exchange rate.
If your company has more than 15 users, I would strongly advise that we talk about the features and benefits of cloud based e-mail and file access.