Cloud vs. On-Premises: Which Is Right For Your Business?

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Everything seems to be in the cloud these days. Documents, data, even telephone and PBX systems. Cloud is the need of the decade, never mind the hour. But many businesses are hesitant to embrace cloud platforms when it comes to their servers, their storage and their data, preferring to manage them in-house instead.

That’s why we thought we’d take a look at the cloud vs. on-premise pros and cons, to set the argument for each straight.

What Is On-Premises?

In the matter of cloud vs. on-premise, On-Premises software and solutions are ones that are based at your physical location. They are servers and networks that are kept at your offices, and you are responsible for their setup, configuration and maintenance. This ensures that businesses maintain full control over their infrastructure, deciding when to update and upgrade components, and where and how to store their data, which is just one of advantages that on-premise solutions offer in the cloud vs. on-premise debate.

What Is Cloud?

So many people talk about the cloud without truly understanding what it is. When you’re talking about cloud vs. on-premise solutions, cloud services are internet-based, allowing for easy, global access to facilities, often at a lower cost. Whether you’re looking at cloud storage, cloud backup, or cloud hosting for your infrastructure, cloud solutions offer servers and networking facilities based in data centres around the city, country, or even around the world. They are configured to a business’ needs, but are not owned by the business themselves. Rather, a third party owns, controls and maintains the necessary hardware and software, and companies rent the facilities or services that they need. When looking at the cloud vs. on-premise argument, this is a big advantage, as it is one less area that a business needs to worry about maintaining themselves.

Which Should My Business Be Using?

Now that we’ve answered the questions of ‘What is On-Premise’ and ‘What are Cloud Solutions’, it’s time to look at cloud vs. on-premise to see which solution would be better for your business. We’ve put together this handy cloud vs. on-premise comparison, and break it down further below:

When looking at the difference between on-premise and cloud solutions, it’s important to understand that there are pros and cons on either end of the spectrum. There is no one-size fits all solution – each business will have their own unique needs. While cloud may be the obvious solution for one company, on-premises services may be better suited to another.

There are 6 factors to consider when looking at on-premise vs. cloud pros and cons

  1. Cost

    Investing in infrastructure can be a costly process. There are always going to be costs to consider, but when it comes to the cloud vs. on-premise debate, what you’re really looking at is whether these costs are immediate, or long-term. 

    Right off the bat, on-premises solutions require a large outlay of cash to buy the infrastructure and components that you need. Maintaining them in-house can also result in unexpected expenses, both in the form of upgrades that may be needed, and in the time your teams may need to spend on them. This means that many start-ups won’t have the capital readily available to invest in on-premises solutions.

    Cloud solutions, on the other hand, can be used for a reasonable monthly fee, which not only covers the infrastructure, but the maintenance as well. This makes them an ideal solution for start-ups and SMEs. However, while monthly payments are perfect when starting out, they can be more costly over the infrastructure’s lifespan.

  2. Maintenance
    Any server needs maintenance, but when it comes to the argument of cloud vs. on-premise solutions, the question is this: Who is responsible for doing it?

    When you’re running on-premises hardware or software, you are responsible for ensuring that they’re maintained. You will also be responsible for the fees relating to the upgrades and updates, and for the man-hours that will need to go into it. This will often include monitoring your on-premises solutions and knowing when upgrades and updates are, in fact, necessary.

    When you are using a cloud solution, all of this falls to your third party provider, taking the responsibility off your shoulders. Maintenance will almost always be included as part of your monthly fee, and your teams will have the opportunity to work on more business-oriented projects, rather than monitoring your infrastructure.

  3. Security

    In an age of increasing cyberthreats and compliance regulations, you need to ensure that your data and infrastructure are secure.

    Keeping your solutions on-premises may seem like an ideal security solution at first glance – as you limit the number of people who can access your information, and since it doesn’t require internet connectivity to access, your data seems more secure. However, this is only the case if you maintain your infrastructure, ensuring that software updates are done timeously and monitoring it for potential failure. It can be a timely and extremely costly process, and the security benefits that you receive from reducing access can be outweighed by the inconvenience, cost, and expertise required. Plus, if something does happen to your on-premises server, there is a greater risk of information becoming permanently lost. 

    When it comes down to cloud vs. on-premise, cloud solutions are often in fact more secure than on-premises ones. You will gain access to security experts from your third party providers, and will quickly and easily be able to implement security features on your servers. Shared environments also mean lower costs to your company, but for businesses that require utmost security and privacy, higher-end solutions can provide private cloud storage.

  4. Control

    There are no ifs, and, or buts about it – when looking at cloud vs. on-premise, if you manage your servers and infrastructure on premises, you maintain a great level of control over them. You choose which software to install, updates to do and when. You control who can access the information and how. It’s entirely up to you how your data is setup, stored and maintained.

    When it comes to cloud solutions, since the infrastructure belongs to a third party, you have little control over how it is configured. While this does mean less time setting up your servers, some companies want to have full control over their infrastructure and environments.

  5. Accessibility

    While on-premises solutions give you more control over your infrastructure, they are less accessible than their cloud counterparts. While they can be set up to be accessed remotely, on-premises solutions will almost always require an on-premises team to maintain them. 

    Cloud solutions, on the other hand, will be accessible from anywhere in the world, whichever device you or your teams may be using. Granting access to the people who need it can be done with ease. The one downside, however, is that access to these solutions will always require connectivity, while on-premises solutions don’t.

As you can see, the question of cloud vs. on-premise solutions is not as clear cut as one might expect. There are certainly advantages to either side, from a cost, maintenance, security, control and accessibility perspective. But finding the best solution for your business’ unique needs is not cut and dry. This is why you need a reliable IT company by your side, ensuring that your company is using the best possible services that will see you stepping into the future confidently.

Michael Claxton

Michael Claxton

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