The best, and arguably the worst, thing about the rapid growth of technology is options.
Long gone are the days when chocolate or vanilla were your only choices. In a post-Ben & Jerry’s world of Truffle Kerfuffle and Chubby Hubby, how are you supposed to know what to pick?
And maybe the million-plus specialty ice cream flavors out there aren't exactly the same. But it’s easy to feel as overwhelmed by specialty ice cream as when you’re evaluating your server options.
So now that we’re all thinking about sundaes, let’s tackle the problem at hand. If Cloud and physical servers are both safe options, which is safer?
*Please note that there is an equal chance of being attacked with either in-house or Cloud servers. Hackers are opportunists. Where you store information doesn't matter, so long as they can get it.
Security of On-Premise Servers
Physical, on-premise servers have some advantages when it comes to security. The information is stored locally, and not transferred over the internet. All your data stays on your network.
Security options are also supremely customizable when you run the whole show. For one, you can control who has physical access to the server by placing it in a locked server room.
An in-house server is on your network sitting behind your network's firewall system. This sense of control gives you peace of mind and a sense of security.
But with control comes great responsibility.
You need to make sure your network is secure to keep your data safe. Layering security is the best approach.
At the minimum, you'll need an active firewall with intrusion prevention, antivirus, and a web filter. Plus, a reliable backup system. All this falls under your IT provider's responsibility when the server is in-house.
Cloud-based Server Security
An on-site server may give you more control, but control doesn't equate to more security. And while, yes, Cloud security practices vary, most make it a top priority. You need to be extremely picky when selecting your Cloud provider for this reason.
The best Cloud providers have practices in place to protect their servers. They monitor any possible attack and prevent the success or occurrence of said attack.
One of the biggest benefits of having a Cloud server is that the provider generally has state-of-the-art security.
Although you aren't setting your own security perimeters when using the Cloud, you are picking the provider. Work with your IT personnel to select a Cloud provider who meets your standards.
But don't grow lax; security on the Cloud is a two-way street.
A cloud server is only as secure as the company using it. Even with all the security measures set in place by the provider, if your company doesn’t manage it well, it will be compromised. It's important for your IT provider to set security policies and keep all security devices, up to date so your data stays safe. (Yes, you need layered security in the Cloud too.)
For Example: Your Cloud server is a file server. Secure passwords and password lockout policies need to be in place to avoid being hacked. These are policies your IT provider needs to manage, as your Cloud provider will not.
Hybrid Method – The Best of Both Worlds?
A hybrid solution gives a business the ability to have an on-premise server(s) and a Cloud server(s). Why would a company need this? Some services and/or business applications are bandwidth intensive. Because of this, it could be better to keep them on a local server so that they are available quickly and reliably.
What a lot of businesses are doing now is having business applications running on local servers, and email servers running on the Cloud. Again, security should be your top priority when choosing who will host your email in the Cloud.
In a hybrid situation, the IT security from both in-house and Cloud servers apply.
IT Management and Cloud, In-house, or Hybrid Solutions
An in-house server requires management and maintenance from your IT provider. From checking the Windows OS to making sure the hardware is running at an optimal level.
When you have a Cloud server, some of the maintenance is handled by the Cloud provider. But your IT staff may still need to manage the server and manage the OS. This can include any applications or services that run on the server.
If services like email or accounting software are in the Cloud, the Cloud provider is only responsible for their software. If your email goes down, as long as they can tell their server and software are functioning correctly, your business email’s functionality is not their problem. This is why it is important to work with your IT staff when thinking about moving to the cloud or a hybrid method.
What conclusion have you come to? Can you foresee a future with one of these options for your company? Servers and the Cloud aren't one-size-fits-all. And the security needs that come along with each option can be overwhelming. Talk to your IT professional about how your company currently runs. Ask about your projected future needs and how to plan for the safest options for your business's future.