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How to migrate to the Cloud

November 18, 2012 8:41:39 AM

We have 12 users using Windows, and are planning to move to the Cloud, and I need some suggestions on which services to use.

Current setup:
- 1 Windows 2003 Small Business Server running Active Directory.
- 12 Windows Vista computers, users logging in and get their email in Outlook, see their private home folder, private windows Desktop and a shared common folder.
- All computers are connected to Internet though 2mbit down and 0.5mbit up, and on a 100 mbit LAN.
- Windows 2003 server does nightly backup, to an external harddisk which is moved off-site manually at regular intervals.
- If a users computer fail, he may grab one of our spare computers. When he logs on, his profile and settings are automatically transferred to that computer, and he is up and running in 5 minuttes.

The current solution works fine, but if Windows 2003 server dies, I will probably need a couple of days to get new hardware and recover backup. Estimated cost of 1 day of downtime for our business is about $4000, so we can't afford this risk. For this reason, I'm considering moving to the Cloud.

This is what I have been looking at:
1) An email provider. Gmail looks the most promising. It has good spam filter, fast search, easy to set up to handle our domain and easy integration with Outlook if needed. For only $5/user/month we get 25 GB of storage, and 99% uptime guarantee.

2) A storage provider for our files. Currently it is at about 200 GB, but growing at about 200 MB/day. Common shared folder that is big, private folders are in the 1-3 GB range. Dropbox seems ok. Assume it will be too slow if files where to be fetched from the Internet, so they need to be stored locally, either on one or several computers. If stored on one computer, we have single point of failure again. If data is stored on all computers, and Dropbox is set to sync them, this will probably clog the LAN as the file will have to be duplicated to the other 11 computers. CPU usage will be high, and most computers have about 200-500 GB
disks.

3) Not sure how to handle the case that a single users computer failes. A user can't just grab a free computer an logon as now.

Cost is not a very important factor. We need to keep using Windows on run programs locally. From my experience I feel MS products are a little bloated. Windows 2003 server have way too may settings, and makes things more complex than they need. We just need email, shared folder and a private folder for each user. Hope to get rid of the Windows 2003 server.

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