Todays Networking Environments
Local Networks and the Cloud
Today’s networking environments consist of both local servers and clients that also use integrated services that can either be on a public or private cloud. There are pros and cons associated with both platforms, but for the most part this is the future of networking and infrastructure in the present day and age. Cloud computing can be established on local networks connecting remotely to local servers or to services located on the Internet. Users of cloud services can connect using smart phones, tablet computers, desktop, laptop computers, and even using mobile devices to connect to the cloud by using a browser.
Many people are asking the question, are local servers still needed as cloud based computing continues to expand and grow. The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’ because local servers offer performance and reliability, and local servers also offer faster access than the cloud presently offers. Also in the case of loss of Internet connectivity, employees can still complete their work by accessing local servers. So having a local server can still be a vital part of a networks environment.
A really great reason for having a local server setup in your network is the ability to implement TCP/IP services such as a Dynamic Host Configuration Services (DHCP) server to automate the assignment of IP Addresses to all your clients. You can also support the use of Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDNs) to those IP Addresses by configuring and installing a Domain Name Services (DNS) server. Two key services that support infrastructure communication between servers and clients.
Local servers also allow access to server application services such as Microsoft SQL servers and Microsoft Exchange servers. In many cases for some organizations, state and federal laws require that these services be hosted locally on a local server to insure that a customer’s privacy is protected. Another benefit that is derived from locally hosting these types of services is improved performance and cost reductions, as this can become expensive on cloud-based networks.
File and Print Servers
Access to files and printers is another plus area for hosting on a local server. It provides a central point from which all employees in the company working on a project proposal for a client can access files. A major benefit of having a file and printer server centrally located is the speed and efficiency of performing a backup of a single server as opposed to backing up files located on individual computers. Authenticating and authorizing user access to resources can also be accomplished more efficiently through the use of a local server. Local servers respond much quicker to authentication and authorization services than a cloud-based server.
Server based applications such as Microsoft System Center 2012, which can be used to deploy server installations and updates to server and client operating systems can consume massive amounts of bandwidth during deployment and initial installation. This is reason enough for the use of a local server during initial installations and updates of server and client computers on a local network. Another reason for the use of a local server could also be based upon the availability of broadband Internet service to your company's location, which might preclude access to high-speed internet access. Organizations unable to obtain broadband usually use a local server in the implementation of a local network. The alternative to local server networking is cloud-based server networks.
Three types of cloud-based networks are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This type is usually configured using virtual machines to host VM’s in the cloud. Virtual Machines are used to simulate an actual physical hardware server, and can be a host to multiple virtual machines simultaneously. Microsoft Windows Azure Compute is an example of an IaaS server.
Platform as a Service (PaaS). Is another type of cloud-based server hosting which can be used to host components of an application. Allowing a cloud hosting ISP to provide clients with SQL database hosting services.
Software as a Service (SaaS). This cloud hosting service provides a platform for a specific application infrastructure to be hosted, giving users access to an Internet based version of an application such as Microsoft Office 365.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Cloud services can be configured on a local network to connect to public or private cloud networks. A public cloud can be configured to offer services to multiple public clients or to just a single large organization. The advantage of a using a public cloud is reduced cost. The disadvantage is reduced security as opposed to a private cloud. You could also choose to host your own private cloud using your company’s own resources or use a cloud service provider to host you cloud.
Service providers and organizations can use Virtual Machine Management software such as Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix to manage the cloud. Windows Server 2012 and Windows System Center 2012 can also be installed on cloud virtual servers, and used to install and update server applications and operating systems.