Last night I wrote a piece about the use of 802.11n, asking for opinions on whether it was worth it (or even a good idea) to roll out Draft-N routers (the response was mixed, but the general consensus seemed to be to stick with cheap 802.11g access points for now). Tonight, as I'm migrating our school website from an internal server to an external host (actually just our ISP; they offer web hosting for free with our T1 line), I pose another question: Host it yourself or host it somewhere else?
Our student information system is currently hosted by the vendor/developer (X2 Development Corporation) and in almost all cases, this has worked out very much in our benefit. The more districts for whom they host the application, the more they can expand their data center and allow economies of scale to save money for the company and its customers. They can handle software updates and fixes centrally and have staff dedicated to managing the servers and associated hardware. Backups are their responsibility and, in general, most issues (though few and far between anyway), are their problem. That's much better than the issues being my problem.
The only time I questioned the decision to have them host the SIS for us was 2 days a couple weeks ago when dying network hardware at the high school blocked our access to the Web, including the SIS. Since X2 does support districts that host the system internally, we would have still had access to this mission-critical application (especially since it's transcript season for students applying to college). Of course, had we hosted it onsite, the rest of the district would not have had access while we offline.
We also host our email offsite (again, handled as part of our Internet service by our ISP). I'm not seeing any upside to being in charge of an email server, especially as we begin archiving everything to comply with FRCP rules.
As I mentioned, our website is the last of this sort of application to head offsite. Since the service is free, I'm again not seeing any downside to getting the administration out of my hands. My hands are full enough. I'd rather simply train selected users on accessing and updating the site via FTP and call it good.
How about you? Take the poll and talk back below.