World Hug Day

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Published on 28 Nov 2023.

2022 Server Hugging 2048x1204

We begin the blog post first by dwelling on "regular" hugging. The idea behind World Hugging Day is to encourage everyone to hug family and friends more often. A hug is an easy and meaningful way to show appreciation.

So here's a hug for you from us too, Kinamo Style:

"Server Hugging" brings us back again in our comfort zone. 😉

It sounds cute, but it really isn't at all. It describes any person who doesn't feel secure unless they can physically touch their server. That usually means companies prefer their IT infrastructure on-premises.

In other words, investing themselves in the necessary hardware, accommodating it, providing the maintenance, etc. Everything on-premise as they say and nothing in the cloud.

A lot has changed since the term server hugging was introduced in 2014 as a result of a survey. Back then, 46% of IT teams preferred to keep data on hardware they can see, touch and operate: i.e. on-premises.
For only 37% of the respondents to the survey at the time, the "cloud" was part of their hybrid on-premise and off-site storage strategy.

A more recent survey of the Belgian IT landscape indicated that most have since been largely cured of their server hugging addiction. Now 80% finds a hybride cloud approach the ideal model for their company. But that means that still 13% of them prefers to have their own server room.

By cloud, we mean servers and services operating elsewhere, not on-premises. This involves leased systems, maintained by an outside party. Made available from professional data centers with high-speed Internet connections so they can be accessed from anywhere.

The hybrid cloud is a mix of the on-premise environment and the cloud environment. Here you keep certain parts of the infrastructure local, while another part of the infrastructure is just going to be placed with cloud providers. This way you still enjoy the benefits that the cloud can offer for that part of the infrastructure, without putting everything in the cloud.

Our affection with servers

We briefly asked our system administrator and CTO Koen for his opinion on Server hugging:

As I write this I am sitting next to a server rack. It looks pretty cold with that metal chassis. Maybe I should let it warm up first before hugging it shortly? 😉

I'm not a server hugger myself, despite the fact that there is one right here next to me in my home office. The one here is for tests I run locally, there is also one for local services, everything else runs in the "cloud". See, even my home office is a hybrid solution!

According to the research mentioned earlier, about 13% of companies would still have their own server room. Whether that includes the servers that are sometimes found in the organization's storeroom, we don't know.

But does it still make sense to keep servers local? There are a number of things needed to keep your servers running locally....

For starters, it's best to put the server in their own room. On the one hand your employees will not appreciate sitting next to such a noisy machine and on the other hand it is best to provide some access control to the servers. It is also best not to use just any storage space. Preferably you use a room with some temperature control, the necessary reliable network and power connections. All those things are standard in a professional data center.

If you have all that, then we can start to tick off the other risks. Here we're talking about theft, damage (can even be caused by a power surge), the risk of data leaks through unauthorized access, loss through fire, ... .
A number of these risks can be covered by making proper backups (with storage preferably outside the building, just to be sure) and the insurance policy (although the recovery time may be disappointing if this needs to be invoked).
Again, in a professional data center, you're a lot safer.

Then there are the temporary breakdowns, especially power outages and internet connection failures. In Belgium you can't just connect to a 2nd power grid, so you'll have to arrange that backup power yourself with the help of UPS systems and possibly a generator.

As for the internet connection, to reasonably de-duplicate this you will need to find 2 different providers with completely separate infrastructure. Finally, you will also need to install a router that allows seamless switching between networks, which will also come at a cost.

In a professional data center, on the other hand, you can choose more easily between different providers. The Kinamo network, for example, is always connected to the internet through multiple providers. This with our own IP addresses so that in case of a breakdown of one provider, the switch is made automatically and transparently for the end users. This is not something you can achieve in the office.

Finally, in recent years we have seen the phenomenon of working from home. We sense that this will still exist in some form, which further removes the usefulness of a server in the office. After all, connections to a professional data center are in many cases much smoother than those to the office.

We believe that a hybrid solution was a temporary solution, a transitional phase.
However, the COVID epidemic seems to have started the next phase. When a company centralizes the server environment in a data center, it not only means less infrastructure worries, it also means that employees can continue working from any location. Whether the employee is sitting at home because of a quarantine arrangement or regular work from home, if they can continue to work in comfort, peace and quiet and by any means means, it not only means a benefit for the employee, it also benefits the employer by minimizing lost productivity.

For almost all cases and situations, I would recommend the last 13% to switch to a professional datacenter with or without the support of a company specialized in that matter. And preferably so via Kinamo 😉

— Koen D.

What does this mean practically...

In our opinion, the local server is outdated, also the hybrid model is crumbling, it is now time to fully focus on the cloud and fully embrace the flexibility it offers.

An office has long ceased to be a physical place that houses a desktop. Rather, it is a meeting hub for employees for social and professional consultation. Everything else should be possible from anywhere, right?

Devising full-fledged solutions to work smoothly in a "cloud environment" has long been part of our standard Managed Services offering. Add to that the total care of your IT infrastructure, the provision and monitoring of the necessary backup strategies and even more advanced solutions such as VMware Horizon Virtual Desktops and you know you've come to the right place.

Still having doubts? Feel free to ask your questions!

If, after reading this post, you still want to proceed to effectively physically hugging your servers, we would recommend watching out for wool sweaters and fleece, as well as other static electricity generators. Unless you've already put your data securely in the cloud, go ahead, at your own risk.

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