The hosting company essentially eliminates the need to purchase the core of and internal network, or phone system.

Listed below are some of the items that the hosting company provides for a flat monthly fee.

File Servers – These servers can be increased in size and performance, based on VLC needs. All the costs of purchasing equipment and setting up that equipment are now transitioned to the hosting company. VLC is no longer in the business of purchasing and supporting file servers.

Tape Backup Hardware and Software – As part of the monthly hosting fee, the backups are performed by the hosting company. VLC will no longer be required to purchase backup hardware and software or shoulder the cost to set up and support an onsite backup system.

Microsoft Networking Software – Microsoft makes software that allows R&D to share information from the file servers. Networking software installed on the file servers allows multiple users, printers, and software applications to connect. This software is expensive to buy, complicated to configure, and expensive to support. The software, setup, and labor to maintain it is all included in the hosting fee.

Exchange Email system – This is the main email, calendar, and contact system that all VLC staff uses. The software is loaded on one of the servers. The current version of the email software is Exchange 2010, which means the software was released in 2010. The email system requires monthly software patches, enhancements, and R&D labor dollars for support. The email system also requires Spam Soap software to filter email for spam and viruses. As part of the monthly fee, the hosting company purchases all the software, performs the updates, filters the email, and provides technical support for VLC users.

Microsoft Office – Office is a software package sold by Microsoft that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. This application has been purchased and supported internally by VLC for the past 15 years. MS Office has had many version upgrades over the past ten years. VLC users are currently running multiple versions of Office (2003, 2007, and 2010) on their various machines. There is no standard version of Office set up for the network. This software also has to be supported, so VLC pays R&D every time a user has a problem opening a file, merging a document, or printing. The hosting company provides the copies of Office and all the support for it as part of the monthly hosting fee.

Labor to support file servers, backups, and other R&D – Setting up, upgrading, and maintaining the servers is a complex process. It requires skilled computer technicians to perform these tasks. Moving to a hosting company eliminates the need for these services. The hosting company provides all these services as part of the monthly hosting fee.

Labor to support email – As noted above, supporting email can be a time-consuming process. Users can have all sorts of issues on a day-to-day basis. The mail system also requires storage space. One of the issues at VLC is that the servers are running out of space and the size of each user’s mailbox can’t be increased once it is full. Users have to delete and archive data. The hosting company provides all the support and disk space for the mail system as part of the monthly hosting fee.

*** Hybrid Hosting Model ***

Hosting relies on a redundant Internet connection. The VLC Internet connection today is a single 100 x 10 MB coax connection. We would probably recommend hosting email at a third-party site. This is called a “hybrid hosting model.” Running the club accounting software on a local server and having email hosted by a third party balances the capital, operating, and onsite costs for maintaining the applications, as well as optimizing the performance of the overall system. Today, VLC does host email offsite with Microsoft Office 365. This is a good example of moving to a hosted environment.

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