Traditionally a server is a box (or boxes) that reside on-premise within a central comma space of a business. A server would represent an investment of thousands that would then be used for around 5 years (or longer in many cases).
Besides the cost of the hardware, you also have the cost of the server software. For most businesses this would be a variant of Windows Server plus a license for each user, known as a CAL (Client Access License).
In addition to the cost of materials and licenses, they would then either pay an IT supplier to set it up, or they would try and do it themselves.
The total cost of this can be high. A business with 3 employees would not go down this route due to the cost. A larger business may commit to the cost to have the benefit, but like all machinery they also take on the cost of ownership, maintenance and eventual replacement.
Additional costs come in when they want layers of redundancy and backup. A secondary broadband, a UPS, a second redundant server may be included.
All of these things add up to a significant ongoing financial commitment.
There is now a better way.
‘Software as a Service’ is trending at the moment. Instead of having software running locally within your office, you are instead given access to it on the provider’s platform for a monthly fee. You then access it from your device over an internet connection.
Software applications that used to be purchased and installed locally are now offered on this subscription model. Instead of paying hundreds upfront, or even thousands, you instead pay a small amount per month for each user for the lifetime of the application.
Software applications, phone systems, video conferencing, music streaming… all of these things are being modelled ‘As a Service’. For example, with Spotify and Netflix, instead of owning and possessing media, you pay a monthly subscription for access to a library that is available 24/7.
Microsoft Azure is designed to offer a hosted server on this principle.
With Microsoft Azure, there is no upfront server cost, no licenses for each user, no maintenance and no end of life date for any of it. It simply works in perpetuity until you cancel the service.
We have customers paying as little as £60 per month for a fully capable Windows Server 2019 instance allowing file server, Active Directory and all the benefits you associate with an on-site server.
When you have a server in Azure, you only pay a monthly cost. Nothing else. This cost guarantees availability of your server 24/7 for as many users as you wish to grant access. You will always be fully licensed for the latest version of Windows Server inclusive.
Historically, one of the difficult aspects when choosing a physical server is future-proofing. You might not need 16 CPU cores today, but you also don’t want to restrict yourself in future either. Azure eliminates this as a problem entirely by allowing you to change the server any time you wish.
You can grow and shrink it anytime with no commitment to keeping it that way.
Following this path eliminates the cost of Windows Server, CALs, UPS, the many layers of redundancy and resilience that are normally required to fully guarantee the server. All of this is washed away and replaced by the monthly subscription cost.
The question of security is also answered in the process, because the Azure server will be hosted in a secured Microsoft-accredited datacentre within the UK.
Like electricity, or even Spotify, you no longer have to worry about keeping your server running… it is simply there as a subscribed service 24/7.
With a Microsoft Azure server, a small business can enjoy all the benefits normally reserved for Enterprise level operations, minus the prohibitive upfront costs. The smaller the business, the lower the monthly cost.
This brings us to the question of… why? Why would you ever want a server, be it physical or virtual?
Here are a few of the benefits and doors that open when you invest in a company server:
Your users login with a username and password that works on any workstation. After logging in to their user account, their desktop and document folders are fully available no matter what station they are on.
Your documents no longer reside on individual workstations, rather they are on the server as part of a centralised store. Users and departments are given access based on their user account. User and departmental documents are then captured daily as part of your regular server backup.
Reduce the possibility of virus infection from malware to 0% by blocking all unknown software applications from running on any machine. Even benign software, if it is not added to the software whitelist, will not run. This way you can be sure the only software running within your company, on any device, is pre-approved.
These are just a few of the doors that open with a low cost Microsoft Azure server.