What is the advantage of creating a windows domain for my small business?

A Microsoft Windows Domain allows central management and control of usernames, access control, security policies, etc. One (or more) server is configured as an Active Directory server for a Windows Domain. The Windows Domain Name can be the same name as the internet domain name, but could also be different.

All desktop and laptop computers can be configured to be a part of the Windows domain if they are running the Pro (or Ultimate or Enterprise) versions of Windows.

Active Directory can be used to manage additional resources (printers, for example) and as the authentication server for VPN logins.


What are the options and considerations when choosing an ISP?

There are three primary internet service providers (ISP) in the Licking County markets: the telephone company (Windstream or CenturyLink), the cable company (Time Warner) and Horizon. The telephone and cable companies have been in the area for decades. Horizon is new to this area and is in the process of building out a new fibre optic network throughout South Eastern Ohio. Other providers exist, but they generally lease network bandwidth from either the telephone company or the cable company.

The considerations for any ISP are reliability, availability, service, performance, and price.

Reliability – Internet connectivity is now a utility. It needs to be as reliable as any other utility. With any business, if the electricity, water, gas, or sewer utilities are unavailable, an organization’s ability to function is diminished. In today’s business environment, if internet connectivity is interrupted, the ability to function is diminished.

Availability – Different technologies inherently have different levels of availability. Networks using telephone lines or fibre optic cable are powered from central offices, which usually have battery backups and generators. Networks on copper coax (cable TV) need signal repeaters every half mile or so. If power to a repeater fails, the network past the repeater is unavailable.

Service – If there is an interruption in service, can you talk to a support person who is able to understand the problem you are describing?

Performance – There are several aspects in internet performance, in particular bandwidth and latency.

When choosing an ISP, the most critical question is bandwidth, usually measured in Kilobits per second (Kbps,) or Megabits per second (Mbps) where 1 Kbps is a thousand bits per second and 1 Mbps is a million bits per second.

In general, larger is better but more expensive.

Network bandwidth is often expressed as two numbers, for example “6Mb/768Kb”. In this example, the service provides 6Mbps downloading from the internet but only 768Kbps uploading to the internet.

To put this in perspective, a document (such as this one) that contains primarily text would take about 1/10th second to download, but 1 second to upload. A larger document containing lots of pictures or scanned text might take 7 second to download but 50 seconds to upload.

It is possible to get symmetrical network links that have the same bandwidth in both directions. Symmetrical network links are more expensive than asymmetrical links but have advantages when working with a remote server.

If the topic of network performance were not already complicated enough, there is another factor called “latency”. Latency is a measure of how long it takes for a network message (packet) to get from one location to another. Latency is a function of how network messages are routed from one location to another. In Newark, for example, a network message between a Windstream customer and a Time Warner customer might be routed from Newark to Cleveland to Washington DC to Cleveland to Newark. This will take measurably longer than transferring data between two sites which use the same ISP.

Price – The factors that determine network price are bandwidth, asymmetrical or symmetrical, distance from the central office, and competition. The only way to get an accurate cost is to get quotes from multiple vendors with several different network bandwidths.

What are the options and considerations when choosing an email provider?

There are many email providers. Reliability, availability, service, price are key considerations. With an email provider, security and records retention also become important factors. The major national players are Microsoft, GoDaddy and Google and there are numerous regional and local providers. It is also possible to host your own e-mail server, but for a small business, this is likely to be more expensive than using a provider.

If security and records retention are critical to your business, any email solution should be evaluated in terms of the corporate security and records retention requirements.

Any e-mail solution will provide mechanisms for accessing e-mail both from desktop/laptop environment and from mobile phone or tablet devices.

What business expenses can be eliminated by choosing a cloud solution over an on-site solution?

There are direct and indirect expenses that are eliminated when a company moves from an on-site server to a hosted server solution.

Examples of direct expenses that can be eliminated:



Low-end standalone server, 4GB ram, 300GB raid set disk space

$ 2,200

MS Windows Server 2008 R2 license

$ 700

7 MS Windows Client Access Licenses – CALs

$ 200

1 year anti-virus for the server

$ 50

Battery backup for the server

$ 150

Tape drive for backup and 10 tapes

$ 1,100

Backup software with 12 month basic support

$ 700

Firewall/VPN device with 1 year support

$ 700

5 VPN licenses for laptops

$ 150

Shipping and tax

$ 550

Total direct cost

$ 6,500

Examples of indirect cost that can be eliminated:

  1. Server maintenance – OS upgrades and patches, anti-virus updates, etc.
  2. Managing the daily backup procedure
  3. Temperature controlled environment
  4. Managing h/w and s/w maintenance contracts
  5. Cost of electric power consumed by server

Additional financial advantages are that you pay for only what you use and you can more evenly distribute the costs over time rather than encounter the entire cost of a hardware and software upgrade in a single event.

Choosing a cloud based solution allows a business owner to focus on his or her business and leaves the computer issues to the cloud services provider. However, a contract with JCC Hosting is more than just a vendor to customer relationship. JCC Hosting will partner with a business to provide IT recommendations and mentoring for short term and long term technical goals. JCC Hosting will assist clients with technology to help them grow their business without growing the number of people it takes to manage that business.

Will JCC Hosting help me to determine if a cloud solution is right for my business?

Yes. At your request and at no cost to your business, JCC Hosting consultants will visit your offices to evaluate your environment and make recommendations. All information obtained during these on-site investigations will be held in strict confidence and under a rigid non-disclosure agreement.

Typical considerations include an evaluation of current hardware and software used to support the organization, availability and reliability of the technology used, backup procedures for files and databases, business work flows, maintenance costs of current environment and systems security.

JCC Hosting often recommends that businesses support their organization with more than one service provider to minimize the impact of a significant disaster. For example, using a single provider to supply ISP service, an application and file server and email service would expose that business to a larger threat should a fire or storm destroy the single provider facility.   JCC Hosting can work with your distributed service providers to create the best possible environment in terms of cost and service.