I often look into getting databases or applications hosted for clients. Resilience and reliability are generally the key drivers for this and for sure, a secure data centre is safer than a standard server in a typical office. I have looked at some further pros and cons in an earlier article.
As a result of its popularity, there is a trend for more use by small business of SaaS (Software as a Service) and hosted, or web based applications generally, including hosted Exchange and hosted CRM - the IoD is pushing both of these for its small business members.
But ... internet connections are not getting better, due to cost there is a major resistance to leased lines and in many cases ADSL is just not good enough - response times to fix problems at exchanges and questionable technical support services should often rule out ADSL as a connection that a business depends upon.
As soon as you move your critical data off site, the internet connection probably becomes mission critical, however, an ADSL line is probably far more vulnerable and may well take longer to get repaired than a server in your office.
Therefore, if you are a small business moving towards hosted applications but don't want to spend thousands every year on leased lines, you need to consider alternatives:
- 3G data via a mobile network - as well as 3G cards for PCs and laptops, there are some business firewalls that will take a 3G data card and provide a cost effective 'fall-back'.
- WiMax - a wireless based internet service provision for business. These are becoming available in major cities, provide really good SLAs and excellent resilience at about the same cost as SDSL.
- It's normally regarded as waste of time having two ADSL lines as they are likely to come from the same exchange, however, if you can get a second cable based DSL, this can make a good backup.
- A more dispersed workforce - encourage home working or at least provide the facility for staff to do so as part of a DR plan.