Is your head in the Cloud? Maybe it ought to be. There’s a growing acceptance that for many companies, the Cloud makes commercial good sense. In fact, Forbes estimates that by the end of the year, 83% of businesses worldwide will be using cloud technology in some way or another.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean a wholesale migration of your infrastructure to the Cloud will be the best fit for your business. There are still many ways on-premise storage, software and applications might be the best way of working for your company. At the very least, you’re going to want to weigh up the cost, security, flexibility and maintenance benefits before deciding anything – because when all things are considered, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

So let’s take a look at the benefits of on-premise vs. cloud…

The Cloud

Cloud computing has grown exponentially in recent years. Ever since the credit crunch of 2008 made the cost of outsourcing vital services more attractive, countless companies have jumped into the Cloud headfirst. IT departments were forced to run lean, and the Cloud offered an ideal solution – managers didn’t need to find the capital for new hardware, and they could refocus in-house teams by outsourcing everyday functions like daily tasks, updates and security checks.

But popularity and cost aren’t the only things you’re going to want to consider when it comes to your own infrastructure. And there are many other benefits to cloud storage.

Flexibility

Cloud is a hugely flexible solution, offering time and cost savings, as well as opening up a smoother pathway to scaling your operations and being agile and responsive. With servers being hosted off-site by a third party catering to all manner of businesses, companies are able to pick and choose the applications and technologies that suit them best, paying only for what they use. This means an entirely bespoke package of support, which can evolve on a daily basis according to need. What’s more, because your cloud host will have everything configured, you can get nearly instant provisioning of different services. As soon as you subscribe to a new feature, a new application or some new software, it will be ready to use.

Time to innovate

The days when IT teams wanted to spend their days tinkering with hardware, solving connectivity issues and carrying out security checks are long gone. These days, they are hungry for innovation. They want to build relationships, develop systems and identify and explore areas for growth in line with their company’s own business strategy. The Cloud offers an opportunity for an entire culture shift for IT teams. Teams will need to be multi-skilled across different applications and networks, but it will also mean their day-to-day activities are massively different. Instead of spending their days updating software, resolving hardware issues and policing integration and security, IT managers and their teams are able to spend their time cultivating relationships, developing their infrastructure, refining their offering and adding value.

Collaboration

One of the greatest benefits of the Cloud in an on-premise vs. cloud comparison is the environment of collaboration and agility it fosters. For any company that embraces remote working or relies on global partners and subcontractors, the Cloud enables the sharing of data and applications to a degree that on-premise infrastructure struggles to attain. Through the Cloud, collaboration becomes seamless, with workers, team members and partners around the world able to access the same database, no matter where in the world they are or what time of day they are trying to access it.

Security

When done properly, the Cloud is every bit as secure as on-premise computing. Migrating any part of your operations to the Cloud will mean encryption and external server storage are part and parcel of your everyday operations, so you’ll be meeting all your data management and privacy obligations as standard. But it’s vital to check the credentials of your chosen cloud service provider to ensure they are as committed to updates, server maintenance and safety as you would want them to be.

You’ll also need to think carefully about how open access to your corner of the Cloud could lead to sprawl, when data, files or software find their way on to devices over which you have no control. You’ll need to run a tight ship of cloud management to ensure the risks of damaging data breaches are kept to a minimum.

Costs

Along with the ongoing savings of time and money mentioned above, having your infrastructure in the Cloud means your systems become an operational expense rather than a capital one. You’ll save on all the upfront costs that come with having your infrastructure on site, including buildings, power, staff and hardware. Add to that the cost of replacing and disposing of defunct kit, and the savings are not insignificant.

It’s important that when you’re choosing your cloud host, you tailor your package to be exactly what you need. It’s surprisingly easy to tie yourself into a costly contract for a level of service that is way beyond your actual need. One of the biggest benefits of the Cloud vs. on-premise is that it’s a solution you can plug into an ad hoc basis to meet your requirements, so make sure that’s what you’re doing – and is all you’re paying for.

Key benefits of cloud

  • Frees up resources in-house by saving time usually spent on updating software, resolving issues and policing connectivity, integration and security
  • Enables the sharing of data and applications, making collaboration a 24/7, global prospect
  • Makes it easier to be agile, responsive and scalable
  • Makes security and encryption an integral part of your day-to-day operations
  • Allows IT managers and teams to focus on adding value

On-premise storage

On-premise is the original IT solution. Having all your data, applications, software and security on-site, behind your own firewall, and being maintained by your own in-house team, is still the panacea for some companies. Knowing that everything that matters to your company – all that data – is located within your in-house servers provides a peace of mind the Cloud never can.

Flexibility

Anything you can choose to opt into on the Cloud, you can have sat in your on-premise infrastructure. One of the major benefits of an on-premise setup is that it can be configured in the way that best serves your business. All the software, data, applications and hardware you need to enable optimal functioning of your business is exactly where you need it to be, where you can keep an eye on it and update and upgrade however and whenever you need to. The peace of mind to be gained through being able to actually SEE your infrastructure working cannot be overstated.

Innovation

The IT infrastructure you can have on-premise is limited only by the imagination of your IT manager. (And their budget, of course.) Driving a solution that fits with the overarching growth strategy of a company is the dream of any IT manager, and being able to develop, revise and refine this on-site is the easiest way to keep track of what is and isn’t working. This might mean in-house resources are focused more on the day-to-day hardware operations than they would be with a cloud-based infrastructure, but there is an argument to be made that an IT team is there to do just that.

Collaboration

In a comparison between on-premise/cloud, an on-premise IT infrastructure is never going to enable the sort of 24/7 global collaboration the Cloud can offer. But there are benefits to hosting everything on your own in-house servers. First and foremost is the ability to see – and control – who has access to which data, software and files. IT managers will also be able to control what happens to those files when they are downloaded, and to ensure files are ‘clean’ when they are being uploaded. For some companies, this level of security will always be of paramount importance.

Security

On-premise IT infrastructure is not immune to security threats. As well as the external threat from security breaches and cyber crime, there are the added risks associated with having your kit physically located on site, such as theft and vandalism.

That said, it is still generally accepted that on-premise is the most secure way to host your infrastructure. When data, software and applications are all licensed and residing on-premise, there is generally greater protection than with a cloud infrastructure. Moreover, companies that hold extra-sensitive information – such as government and financial organisations – must meet a certain level of security and privacy that only an on-premise infrastructure can provide. There have been many publicised cloud breaches, from loss of intellectual property to the theft of personal information and login details, so keeping your IT infrastructure (or certain elements of it) on-premise might be the only way you can meet your compliance and privacy obligations.

Costs

When comparing on-premise vs. cloud, there’s no escaping the fact that the upfront costs of an on-premise IT solution far outstrip anything the Cloud has to offer. That said, the ongoing costs could be drastically less, depending on the level of cloud services required and the integrity of your in-house hardware. There are, of course, going to be increased staffing costs that come with on-premise computing, because you’ll always need a team to carry out updates, checks and fixes.

Key benefits of on-premise

  • Major costs are all upfront
  • Increased security
  • Peace of mind over matters of compliance
  • Complete control over every aspect of your IT infrastructure
  • Ability to tailor every element of infrastructure to your operational needs

The best of both worlds

The issue needn’t be on-premise vs. Cloud, because choosing to outsource infrastructure to the Cloud doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing solution. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t go for a pick ‘n’ mix solution and take the tastiest bits of the Cloud and the tastiest bits of on-premise. In fact, for many (arguably most) IT managers, this type of hybrid solution is going to be the best fit.

There are many benefits to a hybrid solution that features different elements of the Cloud, working seamlessly alongside a reduced on-premise infrastructure. For starters, operating on-premise/cloud-based deployment models in tandem means the configuration and functionality possibilities are virtually endless. IT managers are able to put the right data and applications in exactly the right places, with both operational and commercial benefits.

The ability to be dynamic with your data, moving them between your on-premise servers and your shared cloud, is what’s going to help you see great returns not only for your team, but for the wider company. Whether you are looking to add an SaaS solution to address a specific need or move individual processes and data to a cloud-based platform, it’s increasingly important to have a scalable infrastructure that can support hybrid integration, end-to-end visibility of data, and fast and secure file transfer.

Having your own private compute/storage environment, in a fit for purpose environment such as a data centre, with the ability to leverage a hybrid approach (i.e. integration with public cloud hyperscalers) is also beneficial.

With a hybrid infrastructure, you benefit from the time and cost savings associated with the Cloud, while being able to retain governance over all-important security and maintenance issues. It really can be a win-win solution.

But if nothing else, it’s worth remembering that it’s rarely wise to put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you have a plan B. You don’t want to be left floundering if your cloud server goes offline, suffers a breach, or throws some other spanner in the proverbial.

Key benefits of an on-premise/cloud hybrid

  • Ability to tailor to your needs
  • Cost and time savings
  • Secure and streamlined processes
  • Allows IT teams to focus on development, while remaining up-to-date on technological advances
  • Ability to retain governance over sensitive data and processes
  • Leverage Private and Public cloud solutions where appropriate to the data resource requirement

If you need any help choosing the solution that’s right for you, please get in touch.

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