On-Premises vs. Cloud: Benefits, Risks, and Which is Better

On-Premises vs. Cloud: Benefits, Risks, and Which is Better

Although cloud usage and adoption is continuing to grow, many organizations are still battling with the thought of moving to the cloud. And this hesitation is not entirely surprising. For years, companies have relied on physical hardware to store and manage their data. So, why change now?

Organizations that have reliable, smooth-running systems are the first to wonder why they should uproot their entire network for the cloud. In this article, we’re going to put on-premises infrastructure and the cloud side by side, noting the pros and cons of both. By the end, you will be able to decide for yourself which option is right for you and your company. 

On-Premises vs. Cloud: What’s the Difference

The key difference between on-premises and cloud environments is where data is stored.

When you are using on-premises infrastructure, all of your software and data reside in-house on your server hardware. It never leaves your organization. You can touch the equipment and see the indicating lights of power flashing. 

With the cloud, your data is not stored at your facility but instead is hosted in a data center. A third-party cloud provider then runs this data center. You then access everything through the internet. In a cloud computing model, a laptop could potentially be all you need. 

So, how does this difference in where data and information are hosted affect businesses? Let’s take a look. 

On-Premises vs. Cloud: Management

In an on-premises environment, everything falls on your organization’s shoulders. You are responsible for managing and maintaining all of the infrastructure and all of the data. This increased level of management requires more time and resources for IT as hardware will inevitably fail.

For instance, say a hard drive in your server fails. Now your IT team or managed service provider (MSP) has to take the time to order a new hard drive, wait for it to arrive, and replace the drive. And when they replace it, they have to take the entire server offline. This process soaks up a lot of time and resources that could be otherwise used working with your team on their technology needs. 

On the other hand, when organizations use the cloud, some of the maintenance falls on the cloud providers back. Organizations are still responsible for the configuration of their cloud environment and their data, but cloud providers take on the role of infrastructure maintenance. This means your IT resources can be used in other places, like building and deploying a new app.

On-Premises vs. Cloud: Control

One thing that holds organizations back from moving to the cloud is the fear of loss of control. When your data is stored on-premises, you have full control of all of your data. You can see with your own eyes the servers that hold it all. This can be comforting, knowing you have full reign.

In the cloud, however, your data lies partly with a third-party provider. One of the results of this additional party is the possibility of downtime. This is because data and encryptions keys reside within your third-party provider. When the provider experiences downtime, you may be unable to access your own data.

On-Premises vs. Cloud: Security

Because organizations have full control of their data in an on-premises environment, many believe security is better on-premises. However, control doesn’t equal security. It really all comes down to configuration. The way you set up your network will determine how vulnerable you are. And you are in charge of configuration in both on-premises environments and cloud environments.  

One advantage a cloud model presents in the security debate, however, is the access to advanced security measures. Cloud providers invest heavily in cybersecurity, much more than a typical business could. And because of this investment, they implement state-of-the-art physical and digital security safeguards. 

On-Premises vs. Cloud: Cost

When you host your servers onsite, your cost structure includes large capital investments every few years for new and additional servers. On top of these upfront costs, you have to pay for power, space, and maintenance.

With cloud computing, there are no initial investments, only monthly payments. And your amount depends entirely on the resources you use. This pricing model means you never pay for resources you aren’t using, which can happen with on-premises environments. You also don’t have the additional electricity and upkeep costs. Many forget about these costs when calculating their cloud migration costs.

So, in the cloud, not only do many businesses end up saving money but they can spend their money more strategically too. This is because of the lack of large capital investments. See, instead, organizations can use this money to invest in other areas like marketing, research and development, or product creation. 

On-Premises vs. Cloud: Backups

Let’s talk about backups on-premises vs. cloud. With an on-premises backup system, data is copied from your hardware to another storage device. Because the backup is also stored onsite, it is vulnerable to physical damage like flooding or fire. In these cases, the backup would not be useful as all of the hardware would be destroyed. An onsite backup can also be vulnerable to theft.

With a cloud-based backup, your data is replicated in an offsite data center. These data centers are highly secured, meaning there is less risk of data loss due to theft. Data centers also rely on redundancy, meaning if one data center is hit by a disaster and goes down, your data is not lost.

Hybrid Cloud

We’ve spent this whole article comparing on-premises infrastructure with the cloud, but there is another option. Let’s discuss hybrid cloud models. 

A hybrid cloud model is a combination of on-premises and cloud environments. With this type of cloud model, you can move certain workloads to the cloud while keeping others on onsite servers.

Many businesses have chosen this approach because it allows them to match the best features of both environments with their different needs.