Hosts with the most can help save costs of doing it yourself

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RATHER than doing it for yourself when it comes to IT, paying for someone else to store company data could be a money-saving option for businesses.

A hosted service provider is a business that provides a combination of traditional IT functions over the internet or other networks.

Data storage over the internet is otherwise known as ‘cloud computing’ and is used on well-known platforms such as Facebook.

Services provided can include infrastructure, applications, security, monitoring, storage, web development, website hosting and email.

The major positive on outsourcing is that it enables customers of hosted service providers to consolidate their IT needs for a predictable recurring fee.

This avoids the need for major investment in servers and in the people needed to run them.

Industry watchers are forecasting that an increasing number of companies are opting out of owning their own IT assets, preferring to concentrate on their core businesses instead of having to devote in-house resources directly to backup, data replication and purchasing additional storage devices.

But there are also potential pitfalls and concerns. The main issue is over security of the data.

The Cabinet Office found that data breaches and malicious attacks are costing UK businesses £21billion a year.

However, with changes taking place at breakneck speed, considering the growing expertise of hosted service providers, it isn’t necessarily the case that internet or cloud storage will always be seen as a softer target for hackers and the like.

One such development is that of the Private Cloud, a form of internet-based computing where access to services is limited. Customers are granted the ability to execute some control or ownership of the service implementation.

There may also be an issue of the speed of a cloud-based network.

The internet can also be used to create a VPN – a virtual private network – which is a secure way of connecting to a private Local Area Network at a remote location, using the net or any unsecure public network to transport the network data packets. Encryption is used to make the data private.

VPNs are frequently used by remote workers or companies with remote offices to share private data and network resources. VPNs may also allow users to bypass regional internet restrictions such as firewalls.

VPNs reduce network costs because they avoid a need for physical leased lines that individually connect remote offices or users to a private internal network (intranet).

Virtual Private Networks be varied and offer a minefield of different services depending on customer needs.

> Government support network Business Link has produced hints and tips to help companies make the right choices when they choose their IT providers.