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I have some newb questions I want answering please about cloud hosting - we are currently looking at Rackspace and getting a windows box. This is the situation:

  • We have 15 computers in our office.
  • We have 3 printers, some wifi and some network plugged.
  • We have a standard router and the office share things via dropbox.

The computers are not on Windows SBS or something similar. We want a cloud hosting solution that will offer

  • User can login on any machine in the office and see the machine software
  • User can login on any machine in the office and open Outlook and their emails and signature will be on exchange automatically
  • A shared company folder on the network
  • All printers automatically installed on the network
  • Users can login remotely to access emails via the web

At the moment we have a network company saying we need Xeon server in house with backup and psu and Windows SBS with license for each machine and also we need cabinets and cabling setup and also load balancers and modification of our DNS for emails.

My question is this. Can cloud offer this? Can we have a server in the cloud that does this? Is it possible I mean the computers would be wireless connected to this cloud and you turn the machine on and its hosted?

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There is no magic in the cloud, just servers... –  dusan.bajic Sep 11 '12 at 14:01
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Hi, please take a look at our FAQ. This site is meant for professional IT SysAdmins / Engineers etc rather than end users or customers. You need to do some serious research on what the cloud is and what it isn't (A magic way to solve your problems). All of what you want is possible but it doesn't mean that it's a good, cost effective idea. As we don't do product recommendations, and you're not going to be implementing this stuff yourself, then you should really speak to some consultancy that specialises in this sort of thing. –  Dan Sep 11 '12 at 14:03
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"Cloud" is a meaningless marketing term. It is not a specific technology or even something new. The marking guru's in silicon valley realized people didn't want to buy computers or buy into technology terms, so they picked a word that has nothing to do with computing and marketed it as a silver bullet for all computer problems. That might sound cynical, but it's exactly what happened. Even tech giant CEOs have publicly lamented the invention of "cloud". –  Chris S Sep 11 '12 at 14:18
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2 Answers

You can definitely do that with a cloud based system, you could run an SBS server on a cloud platform or use any number of different applications to achieve what you've specified in your question.

However, you're going to be limited by the amount of bandwidth you've got through your Internet connection when it comes to any file sharing activities and moreover, that's probably the simplest of many potential problems you will run into. You should probably hire someone to advise you on this.

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You are clearly misunderstanding what the term "cloud" means. Don't worry, it's somewhat common.

What you're referencing, what you really want, is a Windows domain. You set up (or hire a consultant to come in and set up, would be a better idea) a Windows domain using Active Directory.

And while you can do this from a cloud server somewhere, the network company is giving you good advice - it's much better to this with a server located in house (well, two, actually, you want redundancy in case something happens to one of the servers) than to put all that functionality out on the cloud somewhere. You have more control, have physical access to the critical point in your infrastructure, and this prevents a lot of issues that you run into when you have so such an important piece of your infrastructure dependent on things beyond your control.

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2 servers for a small office network with 15 clients? –  HaydnWVN Sep 11 '12 at 14:41
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@HaydnWVN Yup, if they want to go AD, as the OP implied. I'd obviously recommend getting some used kit (AD isn't all that resource intensive), but only having one Domain Controller is a recipe for disaster. We've seen a lot of questions on here that start with "our only domain controller" and end with ~"yeah, you're probably fucked; you should never have only one Domain Controller." Might be an argument for not using AD at that size, but if one chooses to use AD, one should always have at least 2 DCs. –  HopelessN00b Sep 11 '12 at 14:47
    
With good complete (at least daily) backups in place there's really no need for a company of that size. If the DC dies just restore it from backup - certainly much cheaper than having to setup replication and the costs of a secondary server. But you're right about AD, is there really any need (same could be said of Sharepoint). Certainly if they also require Exchange then 2 servers would be better. –  HaydnWVN Sep 12 '12 at 10:02
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