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On-Premises vs Cloud: Understanding Key Differences & How to Choose the Right Infrastructure

May 28, 2024 eye-glyph 78

Table of Contents

    “On-premise or Cloud? Which one is right for my business?” This question is growing in the minds of business leaders and decision-makers everywhere.

    “On-premise infrastructure offers robust security and control, while cloud solutions provide unmatched scalability and flexibility.” This ongoing debate needs a definitive answer, and if we aren’t wrong, you are also here to find the right answer and select one of these two.

    The trend is clear: Nearly 48% of companies aim to migrate half of their applications to the cloud, and 20% target a full cloud migration. Yet, a significant number of businesses still rely on on-premise infrastructure for critical operations.

    Regardless of your choice, it’s crucial to have an infrastructure built on a well-designed hosting strategy to avoid issues like over-investment, frequent downtime, and restricted scalability. Understanding which infrastructure—on-premise or cloud—best meets your business needs requires careful consideration of various factors such as security, budget, scalability, and more.

    Here is the blog to help you make your decision making easy as pie.

    Cloud Infrastructure: An Overview

    Often referred to as a term, “Cloud Computing” is a kind of infrastructure where a service provider is responsible for hosting, managing, and upgrading the IT environment on their servers and data centers. This setup is entirely virtual and spread across various regions to maximize availability.

    Cloud Computing has three major kinds of services:

    • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service), which offers basic compute, storage, and networking frameworks.
    • PaaS (Platform-as-a-service), which empowers organizations and development teams to develop, deploy, run and manage custom applications.
    • SaaS (Software-as-a-service) is the most popular and heavily trending cloud computing service. It provides hosted software on a vendor’s system.

    What makes the cloud a good choice is that it transfers all the burden of upkeep, patching, and overall system maintenance to the service providers. Users don’t have to pay any major upfront costs for systems, servers, or software and can spend wisely through the pay-as-you-go model.

    Cloud computing already offers a lot and is expected to grow exponentially in the future. Innovations such as Artificial intelligence in routine life, Internet Of Things (IoT) services, Edge and serverless computing, and Quantum computing are on the way to revolutionizing several industries, making cloud computing an increasingly preferable option.

    Now, let’s have a look at on-premises infrastructure.

    What is On-premises Infrastructure?

    On Premises Infrastructure

    On-premises infrastructure is the traditional framework for managing computing resources like software, systems, networking, storage, etc., where the entire system is hosted and managed in the company’s physical server rooms.

    What makes on-premises infrastructure a great choice is the overall control it provides to the users over hardware and software and its settings and configurations. This creates a strong and unbreakable layer of security around the computing environment.

    However, with the native management of a computing system comes the endless need to manage and maintain all resources constantly, which can increase capital expenditure. Also, the native system needs upgrades and patching of hardware and software every now and then.

    It’s also vital to manage licenses, take care of integrations among various systems and give attention to performance issue rising occasionally. It gets even more difficult when your IT teams is not well-skilled on updating and maintaining systems, causing frequent server failures and downtime.

    Reason why On-premises Infrastructure is still popular

    Reason why on premises infrastructure is still popular

    1. Control

    On-premises infrastructure gives full control over the IT system management environment. This control is mandated for some industries, such as finances, healthcare, life sciences, government entities, and more, where regulatory compliance cannot be compromised. Direct control over networks, data, and servers makes organizations implement customized settings and configurations to meet every business requirement.

    2. Customization

    On-premises systems allow you to easily customize your business application, workflows, and business processes. They are best for businesses with highly customized needs or legacy systems that aren’t easily transferable to a cloud environment. On-premises systems also offer the flexibility to build and maintain infrastructure tailored to existing technology, keeping you out of the loop of migrating complex systems to the cloud.

    3. Performance

    Since the infrastructure of on-premises is natively located, it delivers low-latency and impressive performance, allowing companies to achieve optimal performance of application requiring real-time data processing or low-latency connectivity. For industries like research and development, manufacturing, retail, logistics and transportation where users needs hands-on access to the data and response time must be as rapid as possible on-premises system excels everytime with its operational efficiency.

    4. Security

    Security for every business is not compromisable; be it for data, networks, servers or storage. On-premise security offers security control options like customizing security protocols, stringent access control and monitoring of the in-house infrastructure.

    This hands-on approach is a boon for industries dealing with sensitive data or strict regulations. Having complete control over security measures provides peace of mind and ensures compliance plus you can tailor security policies to your specific needs, addressing any data privacy or regulatory concerns head-on.

    Both of them certainly bring something good to the table, but the choice between cloud and on-premises environments may still call for a clear distinction on some crucial grounds. This differentiation between cloud and on-premises will help businesses make the right choice based on their budgets, capabilities, and expertise.

    On-Premises vs Cloud: Key Differences

    On Premises vs Cloud: Key Differences

    Here we are comparing cloud with on-premises infrastructure on various grounds to help you see right through both the system and make the choice that is fruitful in the long run:

    1. Hosting

    It all starts with the system’s hosting. On-premises servers host and maintain infrastructure inside the company’s establishment, requiring additional staff to manage them. Server blackouts, for which technical expertise is required, are possible.

    Whereas, Cloud infrastructure is all hosted over the network and accessible through the internet. Cloud service providers (CSPs) will take care of handling, maintaining, upgrading software, repairing and maintenance and addressing downtimes of the cloud environment for the customer via public cloud computing servers. Situations like server blackouts and downtimes are very less to encounter since the cloud provider offers high scalability and manage before anything goes south.

    2. Deployment

    For on-premises, all the necessary resources required to run the computing environment are deployed in-house on the local servers. The company supervises all maintenance, security, and data integration.

    Deployment in cloud computing environment is differs from cloud types (private, public, hybrid or multi) and often done by a company offering cloud computing consulting services. The important thing to note is that deployment of data in cloud happens over a third-party server. The cloud offers a double win. Not only it takes away the stress of security updates and infrastructure handling but also saves cost of employing personnel for IT maintenance. What else? You get the access to cloud resources 24/7, so you feel free when you need to scale up or down the resources urgently.

    3. Cost

    When it comes to choosing an infrastructure, cost is king (or queen!). Maintaining an on-premises computing system can bring on certain expenses.

    On-premises costs often come with a higher upfront cost as you have to buy yourself all the hardware, servers, networking tools, software licenses, and staff training. In addition to this, maintenance and upgrades don’t cost any less and are a never-ending expense.

    On the other hand, Cloud solutions are comparatively cost-friendly. They don’t cost you a fortune, as the large upfront costs are already taken care of by the cloud service provider. You just have to bear the subscription fees or pay-as-you-go mode. This enables businesses to make scaling decisions without any stress simultaneously. Also, it saves a lot of money on hiring an IT team.

    4. Control

    On-premises infrastructure allows businesses to have complete control over their systems and data. This means they hold the reins when it comes to security and troubleshooting. If anything goes wrong, they are the ones who can handle it on their end. This level of control is particularly preferred by highly regulated industries like healthcare, finance, and government. These sectors often require specialized software and strict data privacy measures. On-premises solutions allow them to be the sole guardians of their data, ensuring compliance with industry standards.

    Here in cloud environments, businesses often need clarification on who truly owns the data as it’s all stored in third-party servers. This also means that the provider also have the encryption keys of the data in their control, raising concern about transparency. Even though it offers high accessibility,

    While this might raise concerns about transparency, the cloud offers a major benefit: accessibility. In the unfortunate event of significant downtime, the user won’t be completely locked out of their data. Usually, cloud providers invest heavily in recovery measures like redundancy and disaster recovery to ensure continuous access to the systems.

    However, the trade-off might only be ideal for some. Businesses with highly unpredictable data or strict privacy concerns might choose the on-premise approach, as it offers complete control and physical proximity to their data.

    5. Security Concerns

    For businesses handling ultra-sensitive data, like those in banking or government sectors, on-premise infrastructure remains a preference always. The ability to customize security protocols and maintain complete control over physical servers offers an extra layer of assurance when dealing with confidential information. While on-premise solutions get heavy billings for upfront investment in hardware and maintenance, these businesses will anytime prioritize data security and compliance above cost.

    Security is a major hurdle for businesses considering the cloud. News of data breaches involving cloud users is unsettling; from employee login details to intellectual property, potential threats are becoming reality. Irrespective of the number of security certifications and badges cloud providers have earned over the years, the lack of direct control over data is putting businesses in a dilemma regarding cloud adoption decisions.

    6. Compliance

    Today, almost all businesses are operating under some regulatory framework in their respective industries, like the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) in healthcare, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), etc. Companies must comply with such regulations to protect data and credibility in the market. Considering this, the on-premise model is the best-fitted option where users can locally store and process data in their control.

    While the Cloud has its advantages, security can’t be secondary in any circumstance. Before you partner with a cloud service provider like Salesforce, AWS, ServiceNow, etc., make sure all the due diligence and measures like data encryption, access control, and disaster recovery are covered. Further, you must make sure that the provider constantly audits its code to keep up with the updating industry regulations.

    For some government organizations, the Cloud might not be a choice that gives complete control over data storage. In this case, a hybrid cloud, combining on-premises infrastructure with secure cloud storage, will be an appropriate mid-way.

    7. Scope of Integration

    Connecting third-party tools with on-premises systems is definitely possible, but it requires technical expertise to establish smooth coordination between your internal infrastructure and external tools. You have two options: take help from a company offering consulting services or hire a software developer in-house to custom-build the integration settings as per your business needs.

    Cloud platforms, on the other hand, offer endless integration possibilities. With their vast ecosystem of pre-built connectors and APIs, users can easily integrate various external systems and tools with minimal technical effort. This results in faster implementation, reduced development costs, and a more streamlined workflow for your business.

    8. Technical Requirement

    Physical server deployment on-premises requires in-house IT expertise. Businesses should get an on-premises system to build a team of experts to develop, configure, customize, and maintain servers. This ensures that your infrastructure is safe, under control, and efficient enough to handle heavy workloads, even though it will add a lot more to your overall budget.

    In the Cloud, everything from systems to servers is entirely managed by the service providers, which gives businesses a loose hand in getting in-house technical expertise. However, many service providers offer customization within the cloud infrastructure. By outsourcing help from a cloud consultants, businesses can focus mainly on core revenue-generating activities.

    9. Flexibility & Scalability

    Flexibility is quite limited in on-premises environments, as servers run natively, making resource scaling difficult not only in terms of space but also in terms of costs.

    Cloud environments provide unlimited scalability, allowing you to upscale or downscale bandwidth, server resources, and internet usage. Plus, budgets won’t get shaken up with scaling, as you only pay for what you are using at the moment.

    Why is Cloud better than on-premises?

    Why is Cloud Better than On Premises

    Here are some reasons why businesses are noticing more advantages of cloud computing over on-premises infrastructure:

    • Instant Access to Customer Data

    In the Cloud, collecting and processing customer data is comparatively easy, which further helps in creating personalized and customized experiences for each customer, designing customer-centric campaigns, and formulating strategies based on customers’ buying habits, purchase histories, market trends, etc.

    • Enhance Engagement with Quality Content

    Customers are now surrounded by more engaging content than commercial ones. Cloud-based analytics and tools are the best way for businesses to identify the best-performing content, trends, strategies, etc., to boost engagement in the existing customer base and attract the attention of new ones.

    • Data Translated Into Actionable Insights

    Data narrates too many unheard stories; it just takes the right tool to comprehend them into simpler words. Cloud has tools for that, too. Tableau is one of them. It converts data into valuable insights and visualizations, giving analysts and decision-makers in-depth insights, allowing the creation of new marketing channels, and simplifying customer behavior with greater accuracy.

    • Cost-Effective

    With the service provider managing the significant expenses, the Cloud eliminates the need for any additional investments in hardware and software. By handling everything from deployment to maintenance, cloud infrastructure indeed reduces costs and saves you both time and money.

    • Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

    Cloud-based solutions minimize overall TCO by eliminating the need to invest heavily in IT infrastructure. This shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure frees up resources for revenue-generating activities like creating more foolproof strategies and improving products and customer services.

    • 24/7 Maintenance and Support

    Unlike on-premise maintenance and support, which are available during regular work hours, cloud providers offer 24/7 maintenance and support in the event of downtime and system failure.

    On-Premises vs Cloud: How to choose the right infrastructure?

    On Premises Vs Cloud How to Choose the Right Infrastructure

    Choosing the perfect IT infrastructure for your business requires careful consideration and a well-aligned cloud strategy. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision.

    1. Evaluate Your Business Needs

    Before you decide on any kind of infrastructure, it is vital to know your business inside out. Learn what your business needs in terms of user requirements, workloads, performance, scalability, storage, etc. You must adopt mission-critical applications that can handle routine operational loads and keep all kinds of data safe and supported.

    The driving force behind this can be your business’s current state, what you plan to achieve in the future, and the scope of scalability and evolution.

    2. Analyze Your Current Infrastructure

    Remember to examine your current infrastructure and where and what resources you need in addition. Also, if you are going with on-premises, assess the skills, costs, and time your IT team needs to be upskilled.

    Check the lifespan of your hardware and software and how well they can cope with everyday updating technology. Make sure to note any potential gaps that can disturb the progress toward more advanced infrastructure options.

    3. Address Regulatory and Compliance Requirements

    Regulatory requirements may dictate where and how you will store and access your data. Non-compliance might result in heavy penalties and disruption in regular operations.

    Before choosing Cloud or on-premise solutions, understand your industry’s data governance requirements. Some data might require the tight control offered by on-premise setups, while others might benefit from the advanced security features of the Cloud.

    4. Calculate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

    List all the direct and indirect costs for both on-premises and Cloud. The first one covers expenses like servers, software licenses, maintenance, power, cooling, and personnel. The latter includes service costs, data transfer fees, and potential downtime. Now, compare both costs and determine the most cost-effective option.

    6. Consider Scalability and Flexibility

    Cloud scalability can be a plus if your business experiences frequent demand or rapid growth. For regular and stable workloads, on-premises is the right option. Consider the flexibility each option offers to meet your business’s changing needs.

    7. Evaluate Vendor Options

    If considering Cloud or hybrid solutions, research various vendor offerings that have experience, expertise, and credibility in the market. List down some reliable ones and compare their costs, features, customer support, and compatibility with your existing systems. Connect with the one you find suitable, and before finalizing, make sure they can grow with you and adapt to your business’s future needs, avoiding the need for a new solution sooner than expected.

    8. Sign SLA and Get started with development

    Once you are done with the comparison, formalize the agreement with the chosen vendor. It is essential to sign the Service Level Agreement (SLA) so that both parties are on the same page regarding performance, uptime, support, and other crucial aspects of the service.

    Once the SLA is in place, you can move ahead with the infrastructure development.

    You can either build an in-house team or get cloud consulting services (if Cloud is the choice you are moving ahead with); just ensure that your development team is aligned with the chosen infrastructure strategy. Here is what you can do: set clear objectives, align resources, and keep track of progress for a smooth transition and successful implementation.

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    The Final Take

    The cloud computing world isn’t slowing down from its evolution, making IT teams more confused about whether to adopt new cloud apps and services, develop their own solutions, or maintain existing legacy systems.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle alone and make such difficult choices. Cyntexa, as a leading provider of cloud consulting services, specializes in smooth transitions from legacy systems to the cloud.

    With Cyntexa by your side, you can get past the complexities of cloud adoption without any headaches. Ready to see the power of the cloud infrastructure? Schedule a free demo with our cloud experts today.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Cloud computing offers several advantages over on-premises computing like cost savings. Cloud providers take care of server maintenance, upgrades, hardware, and software, saving businesses loads of money. It also offers scalability, allowing businesses to adjust their resource needs and pay only for those they are utilizing. For those businesses with security as their topmost priority, the cloud offers heavy security with disaster recovery, which most on-premises failed to provide. Cloud computing solutions are easily accessible, empowering employees to work from anywhere without having to compromise on collaboration and mobility.

    Cloud computing is often more cost-effective than on-premises solutions. Whereas in the cloud, you incur ongoing fees, you save millions in upfront costs for hardware and software and scale without having to extend your physical infrastructure. For most businesses, cloud computing is becoming an ideal choice for every industry.

    The level of control in on-premises vs. cloud environments boils down to direct management versus service reliance. On-premises infrastructure gives you complete control over hardware, software, and data security. Whereas in cloud computing, cloud providers have more control over software and infrastructure. You get control of your data and access settings but rely on the provider for security and maintenance. This offers scalability and reduced IT burden but gives you less direct control.

    Cloud computing is generally the more cost-effective option for most businesses due to its flexibility and avoidance of sizeable upfront hardware costs. It scales up or down to match your workload, so you only pay for what you use. On-premise solutions can be more cost-effective in the long term for businesses with very predictable workloads and a dedicated IT team. Still, they require substantial upfront investments and are less adaptable. Consider your workload predictability, budget, and IT expertise - the cloud is often ideal for its scalability and cost-efficiency. Still, on-premise might be suitable for businesses with specific needs and the resources to manage their IT infrastructure.

    The primary difference between on-premise and cloud solutions lies in their deployment, cost structure, maintenance, scalability, and security. On-premise solutions are installed and operated within an organization’s facilities, requiring significant upfront investment in hardware, software, and IT personnel for maintenance and security. For example, a company might host its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system on internal servers, necessitating dedicated IT staff for upkeep and troubleshooting.Contrary to this, cloud solutions are hosted by third-party providers and accessed over the internet, operating on a subscription or pay-as-you-go model that reduces initial costs. Salesforce CRM is a cloud-based solution that allows businesses to manage customer relationships without the need for extensive IT resources and offers access from anywhere with an internet connection. Maintenance, updates, and security in cloud solutions are managed by the provider, alleviating the IT burden on the organization and offering easy scalability to meet demand.

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