Most people love technology and the added conveniences of its modern advances. There are apps that can sync with your home to turn your lights off when you aren’t home and now there’s even a more sophisticated AI voice recognition program that will explain the meaning of life or direct you to the closest bar for happy hour.
We rely on IT systems for email, virtual meetings, conference calls and remote desktop connections on a regular basis. We even save and share files on a company shared network directory and rarely think about how it all works or who put it together. The company IT masterminds of the very systems you frequently take for granted rarely mean anything to you and you probably don’t even know their name – until something breaks. Suddenly the IT department, (which in some cases consist of a single person) – is on speed dial and he or she becomes your best friend until the problem is fixed – and that is if you HAD an IT department. IT quickly becomes a critical aspect of a business as it grows. We need technology to operate and do business efficiently.
The problem is the cost involved with maintaining and managing your IT infrastructure. Establishing an IT infrastructure is a critical step for a business, but establishing such systems are often time consuming projects that take you away from your core competency and steal precious time that could be spent investing in your business or building stronger relationships with your clients. For businesses in the early growth stages, outsourcing your IT and hosting is a viable solution to your needs, at least until you are large enough to sustain your own IT department.
Let’s add a layer of reality to the situation. You are the manager of a brewery and you consider yourself to be a pretty tech-savvy person. You’re an intelligent IT in a brewery businessperson with a passion for brewing great beer and knack for technology – ok mostly a passion for brewing great beer. You are proud of yourself for setting up your IT systems after watching hundreds of YouTube videos, trolling countless forums and reading mountains of IT reference books. You did a decent job setting up your systems, but since you were such a great businessperson with a passion for brewing great beer, things in your brewery are starting to take off and business is booming. Your brewpub is always packed for college game days and Monday Night Football, your fans love your beer and you just can’t make enough to satisfy demand. You wish you could increase output to meet the demand, but overall you’re not complaining. It’s a great problem to have.
Meeting the demand was your biggest problem…Until now. The IT systems you set up are filing for some reason and you are at risk of losing precious data. Luckily, you know how to fix the problem but it’s going to take some troubleshooting, and more importantly, time away from what you do best: brewing great beer.
IT related issues occur more frequently than people wish to think about. We often feel like they work about 90% of the time and we choose to forget or ignore the headaches caused by the other 10%. Here are the top 5 reasons why it makes sense for small craft breweries to outsource IT:
1. Protect Your Data
Simply hosting an on-site server does not guarantee the security of your data. It often presents a false sense of security by creating the assumption that nobody can touch your servers if they are locked in a closet. In reality, locked doors mean nothing to hackers, thieves and viruses. It will take a hacker .2 seconds to hack your on-site server if they really had the motivation.
Viruses are also becoming more powerful and increasingly malicious. You don’t even want to know what happens if a virus works its way into your on-site server. Outsourcing your hosting quarantines your data, so buying the latest virus and malware protection software for your servers is one less thing you have to worry about.
For established breweries, harboring precious data on your own servers in an unprotected environment is like stashing your life savings under your mattress. Let someone else worry about keeping your data safe – unless your servers are stored in a climate controlled vault equivalent to Fort Knox. For more on secure servers, Read Reshad’s previous blog post entitled: “Cloud Computing, The 21st Century Bank.”
Managed hosting companies will store your data in massive server compounds protected by armed guards. The hosting that we recommend for our clients is SAS 70 Type compliant. Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 70, is a widely recognized auditing standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). A service auditor’s examination performed in accordance with SAS No. 70 (also commonly referred to as a “SAS 70 Audit”) is widely recognized, because it represents that a service organization has been through an in-depth audit of their control objectives and control activities, which often include controls over information technology and related processes. Outsourced data hosting provides secured access 24/7 – ensuring that your data is readily accessible to the right people. Visit the SAS 70 website for more info.
2. Outsourced Hosting is Cost-Effective
Purchasing hardware is expensive. Paying an IT manager to manage the hardware is even more expensive. You’ll also have a hard time finding someone to manage your own hardware and IT systems for less than $40,000 a year if you plan on managing your own IT. Some breweries fail to consider the costs in human resources involved with managing an on-site server.
Our hosted environments always have the latest versions of software and hardware in order to maintain efficiency and guarantee that your data is being stored on the latest and greatest systems. Keep in mind that most hardware upgrades occur every two years. This means that the $8,000 server you bought two years ago is most likely obsolete and should be replaced – another cost that could be avoided by outsourcing.
Another aspect to keep in mind regarding cost effectiveness is opportunity cost. How much time are you spending on your IT problems when you can be spending it in the brew house? Spending two days troubleshooting an IT-related issue has taken you away from your core competency and will come back to bite you in the bottom line. It may not be something tangibly obvious, but think about it in terms of batches brewed: how many batches of beer were put on hold because of the IT problems? Time is money.
3. Hosted Servers offer Uncompromised Reliability
Perhaps you’ve installed your own servers to manage the terabytes of information you plan on accumulating over the next few years. You’ve planned ahead and anticipated the room needed for all the brewing processes and documents that contain your lab data and recipes for success.
Then one day there’s an earthquake and your server is knocked over and destroyed. Now what? Are your servers backed up? There could be a multitude of unlikely but possible catastrophic scenarios that are allowing your brewery to become susceptible to such events. Don’t take that chance.
The hosted environments that we offer to our clients are backed-up daily and are linked to various server locations throughout the country. Even if an earthquake hits the datacenter’s location in Illinois, the data is safely and securely linked to a mirrored database center in Texas or Washington State, allowing a seamless transition in case of emergencies. Because of this capability, some hosting companies have an up-time guarantee that allows you to access your data 24/7, 365 days a year.
4. Hosted Servers offer Unlimited Scalability
As your brewery grows, you will most likely outgrow your in-house server(s). You have the option to increase the capacity of your current server or you can purchase an additional server altogether. Either way, you are incurring costs every time you expand operations or outgrow your server. With managed hosting, expanding your server space means making a simple phone call to request more virtual space or virtual computing power. Adding additional users will cost you slightly more in ongoing monthly costs but isn’t that worth preventing the headaches of expanding your own in-house server?
5. Outsourced Hosting Provides Peace of Mind
Managed hosting is an intangible expense providing a priceless benefit: Peace of Mind. There’s a reason why 90% of our small to midsize brewery clients are utilizing a cloud-based hosting system. Many of our clients have the ability to manage IT themselves without a problem, but they realize that in order to maintain efficiency in the brewing industry, they need to focus on what they do best and leave the rest to the pros. Our clients have peace of mind knowing that their servers are always secure, always up-to-date, always scalable and always accessible. Outsourced hosting means you can worry less about your servers and focus more on brewing great beer.