Entrepreneur with a dozen or so servers and… a canister

Outsourcing of IT infrastructure
Author: Atman

Own server room or leased servers in the data center? Find out how (apparent) saving can backfire – because it’s best to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Imagine a Christmas tree, carols, children waiting for presents. Outside the window in the light of streetlights, snow is shining, colorful Christmas decorations are blinking. A local Entrepreneur would like to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere with his family. However, he runs out of the house every four hours, removes the snow from his car and drives to the gas station with a canister. Why?

Due to a power failure, the Entrepreneur must regularly add fuel to the power generator that keeps the IT equipment alive in the company’s server room. He cannot afford to interrupt the work of his servers because he is so-called content provider: feeds several local cable TVs with content.   He cannot disappoint his clients during the prime time, otherwise he will probably lose them.

This is a real-life story of a Warsaw entrepreneur.

Is it really cheaper and safer to keep the server in the company rather than to use outsourcing?

Many companies believe that their own server kept at their premises, under the care of their employees, is a more economical solution, and even safer for their data and applications. In turn, when we look at the prices of dedicated server lease, they may seem to be surprisingly high. Although, of course, a lot depends on the chosen hardware configuration as well as the term of the contract.

Is this right? Let’s have a look at the components of a lease service, and compare them to the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the equipment.

Own server located in the company

When assessing the cost of owning a server, we usually think first of all about the purchase price (let’s divide it, for example, into 36 months of useful life, in order to be able to compare it with the price of the service). Maybe we add to it the estimated energy consumption.

We forget about the rest, because most often it is about things that also serve other purposes, so it is difficult to assess the costs of their use for the needs of a specific operational element of the company. Examples of such distributed costs:

  • Fee for the Internet connection through which the server connects with the world, and which also serves employees to communicate with clients
  • remuneration of an IT department employee who also cares about other IT resources of the company: applications and internal systems, LAN, employees’ computers, printers, etc.

Alright, we already got it. And what about the costs of:

  • service contract for replacement of damaged components
  • increasing the link bandwidth if the traffic is too large
  • anti-DDos protection
  • disposal of the device after replacing it with a new one, say after 3 years of use (the equipment is getting old quite fast)?

If the company’s activity requires 24/7 server work and availability, then we should add the costs of shift work of technical staff and backup internet connection in case the basic one fails. What about emergency power supply – will we invest in a UPS or maybe a power generator in case of a long-term power outage?

Let’s also think about physical security: can the server – the heart of our IT infrastructure – be accessed only by authorized persons, or can a customer or courier delivering a parcel approach it?

In addition, if the number of servers increases, you will need to adapt a room for them and equip it with an efficient air conditioning system.

Your head can start spinning when you think about all of that. However, it is clear that you certainly underestimated the cost of maintaining the IT infrastructure at your company’s premises.

Dedicated server, hosted in a professional data center

Remember that this is not about shared hosting, for example VPS. Dedicated server is a physical machine made available for use to only one company.

If – in the case of a machine maintained in the company – you only take into account the cost of purchase and electricity, then the price of leasing a server with similar configuration is much higher. However, let’s analyze what is provided to you – as a data center client – in the service price in addition to the device itself:

  • technical support and replacement of damaged components and even the entire server
  • power that you will never run out of: power reserve, redundancy, and in case of failure of the basic power supply, an emergency power supply will be activated (UPS, power generator)
  • ambient conditions suitable for server operation (temperature, air humidity) and a fire protection system
  • redundant (spare) high-bandwidth internet connection with anti-DDoS protection
  • online panel for remote 24/7 server administration, so you do not have to leave your desk or even home
  • 24/7 remote hands service, as you do not have physical access to the machine
  • network if you have more than one server

…and you do not have to worry about the space for another device.

If you sum it all up, it will turn out that the difference in costs between maintaining the server in the company and using the leased equipment kept in DC is small. You may even be surprised that it covers such a large package of benefits.

It is worth emphasizing that by leasing, you also gain flexibility. You can quickly add some component to the used server or replace it with a machine with a different configuration, more suitable for the current tasks. Just as quickly and without any problems you can choose additional servers, if you want to increase the infrastructure, and also resign from some if your needs have decreased. Such flexibility in the company’s server room is unattainable.


Immediately after Christmas, the Entrepreneur asked a professional data center for help. He did not want to spend his private time – important for himself and his family – surrounded by the company servers ever again. How about you?