The Great Debate: Cloud vs. On-Premises

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With cloud computing’s growth, there’s been a migration away from on-premises infrastructure models. But many companies still embrace an on-premises solution. It’s become a matter of debate – which IT infrastructure model is better – cloud vs. on-premises? Here are some insights to let you decide.

In great measure, the decision often comes down to company size. Larger organizations with more available capital and stricter data policies often lean toward on-prem solutions.

A smaller organization, on the other hand, often leans toward a cloud solution. Their goal is to avoid a capital outlay and eliminate or reduce the need for a hands-on approach.

Company size notwithstanding, the two solutions present differences.

What Is Cloud Computing?

To provide a bit of an overview, cloud computing stores and accesses data from a remote server. There are various cloud configurations, including a public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. In addition, there are service models: SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).

Delivery of computer services is over the cloud. Your company infrastructure still includes servers, networks, storage, databases, software, and other elements, but they are cloud-based.

What is On-Premises?

With an on-prem solution, the organization is responsible for the IT infrastructure. Data, software, servers, storage, and other items are housed in an IT environment in-house. As a result, the company runs the show, including expansion, support, and maintenance.

Cloud Vs. On-Premises Comparison

The comparison chart presented below offers an overview of the differences associated with each IT solution.

Parameter Cloud On Premise
Deployment Typically takes less time to implement owing to the virtualization of resources on demand.   With a public cloud solution, your IT infrastructure is deployed with a service provider and accessed by the public.   With a private cloud solution, your resources are still maintained by a service provider but accessed only by the company. IT infrastructure deploys on-site with responsibility for its maintenance by the organization. Access is limited to the organization only.   The more involved the infrastructure, the longer the deployment.
Cost Typically, a monthly subscription-based on the number of seats. Otherwise, there are no costs for maintenance, software, or equipment updates.   You may encounter a one-time setup fee.   The cost of ownership over three years is higher than on-premises. It requires capital investment for servers, software, licenses, upgrades, hardware, and storage. Costs incurred for installation, physical space, and power consumption.   Capital expenditures get depreciated. The cost of ownership over three years or more is lower.
Security The cloud service provider encrypts, secures, and protects your data. The company’s environment secures your data behind a firewall. Security and data privacy falls on the business.
Mobility Built-in anytime, anywhere access with the ability to auto-scale. Requires app creation to retrieve data from on-prem servers. Costs and time requirements can be high.
Scalability Your IT infrastructure can expand quickly without substantial costs or investments in equipment. Expansion often requires only a click. Infrastructure expansion requires an extension to the existing infrastructure.   Time and equipment investments are required, plus security profiles for data access.
Customization The cloud provider limits customization. You have the freedom to create your IT infrastructure.
Maintenance Your cloud provider handles all maintenance, including software updates, hardware, network, etc. Plus, 24×7 support is available. The company or outsourced vendor is responsible for maintenance covering servers, hardware, software, storage devices, and disaster recovery.
Compliance You need to confirm with your cloud provider what compliance guarantees get included. You have control over compliance standards.

5 Ways to Help You Decide Between Cloud or On-Premises?

Each solution has its pros and cons. So, how do you decide between cloud vs. on-premises? Here are five considerations:

  1. Agility: What level of agility does your business require? The more agile your business, the more a flexible solution like the cloud may be beneficial. Cloud solutions let you scale up and down readily to accommodate ebbs and flows in your business.

On-prem solutions are inherently less agile owing to the hardware, software, and setup costs required to scale.

  • Control: How much technical involvement and control do you want? An on-premises solution gives you control of your IT infrastructure. If your industry requires greater security demands, you can implement control levels. The same holds true for companies with compliance requirements.

Cloud solutions eliminate or reduce staffing requirements but give you limited control of your underlying infrastructure. You have no control over data security, and compliance gets determined by your cloud provider.

  • Total Cost of Ownership: To get a better feel for costs, determine your TCO for each solution over an extended time. Keep in mind that a cloud solution reflects a recurring expense, whereas on-prem reflects a capital investment.

Make sure you include hidden costs like power bills, maintenance, office space, and even personnel. You should also be aware that companies replace on-premises servers every five to seven years.

  • Downtime Costs: One of the upsides to a cloud-based infrastructure is uptime. Typically, cloud deployments present better reliability vs. on-prem. Determine how critical uptime is to your business. If uptime is essential, a cloud solution may be the preferred route.
  • Geography: The more geographically dispersed your business, the more sense a cloud solution makes. Mobile users have ready access to data. A smaller organization with tight geography may be more inclined to use an on-premises solution.

Can’t Decide? Consider a Hybrid Cloud

For some organizations, it’s not a matter of cloud vs. on-premises. It’s a matter of using both with a hybrid cloud model.

Hybrid clouds solve unique demands for companies. Let’s say your business requires a security level that’s more conducive to an on-premises solution. Other areas of your business are dynamic, with varying seasonal workloads that make them a fit for cloud computing. The answer is a hybrid solution.

Hybrid structures allow organizations to optimize operations. You can take advantage of the control aspects associated with an on-prem model. You can also retain your existing infrastructure and investment. At the same time, you can use the cloud to improve your agility and data accessibility.

What’s the Best Answer for Your Business?

If you’re a small or medium-sized business struggling to decide between cloud vs. on-premises, get in touch with IntermixIT. As a cloud services provider near you, we can assess your needs and come up with the right solution. We can also offer support through fully managed IT services or co-managed IT services.

We’ve supported clients in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Carlisle, Lebanon, Reading, and Allentown for nearly 15 years. You can count on us for a fast response and resolution to any technical issues. That’s why we own a 98% client satisfaction rating.

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