With the growing adoption of cloud solutions, more and more organizations are wondering which is the best option for their IT infrastructure in an “on cloud vs. on-premise ” comparison. The answer is not unequivocal but is based on a series of considerations that can tip the balance in one direction or the other. Let’s see why.
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On cloud vs. on-premise
Simplifying as much as possible, the difference between on-premise and on-cloud lies in the place where hardware, Software, and applications reside.
On-premise means that a company maintains all IT infrastructure in-house and manages it itself (or eventually has it managed by a third party). On cloud means, however, that all IT infrastructure is hosted offsite, and someone else is responsible for monitoring and maintaining it.
From this simple distinction, however, several aspects arise that must be considered in an on-cloud vs. on-premise comparison. In fact, both on-premise and on the cloud are able to provide the company with all the IT infrastructure it needs. Choosing one or the other option generally depends on the desired level of security and the preferred cost structure. In fact, on-premise applications are reliable and secure and allow companies to maintain a level of control that the cloud often cannot provide. However, many CIOs agree that, in addition to their on-premises and legacy systems, to achieve the business goals, they will need, however, make use of new cloud applications and Software as a Service (Saas), passing through hybrid infrastructures.
The pros and cons of the cloud
As mentioned, transferring your IT infrastructure to the cloud means “renting” that of an external provider. This offers two important advantages: first of all, it allows you to pay based on the resources actually used. Second, it allows you to effectively scale up (or down) in real-time as user needs and business growth.
A cloud server uses virtual technology to host a company’s applications. It, therefore, goes without saying that a managed IT service like the one you get on the cloud implies that the service provider is responsible for the problems and costs that would weigh on the IT departments, such as software updates, security patches, and maintenance of the ‘hardware. This avoids capital expenditures for Software or hardware.
The same goes for safety: the person offering the service must ensure it, thus relieving the client company of this burden. The cloud also eliminates costs related to energy consumption and saves the space required for installing an IT infrastructure and all that follows in terms of air conditioning, physical security, uninterruptible power supplies, and so on.
Finally, remember that the cloud offers almost instantaneous provisioning because everything is already configured. Thus, for example, any new software that is integrated into an environment is ready to use and will be immediately available once the subscription has been activated. This eliminates the time required for installation and configuration.
Conversely, deploying legacy or highly customized applications in the cloud may be challenging, if possible.
The pros and cons of on-premise
Whether a business puts its applications in the cloud or decides to keep them on-premise, data security will always be paramount. In the case of those companies that operate in highly regulated sectors (such as banking, finance, or insurance) or that have to keep important industrial secrets (such as in the pharmaceutical, automotive, or manufacturing sectors), the choice of hosting the IT infrastructure in-house could be a mandatory way. Knowing that the data is located within your own servers could provide greater peace of mind and also ensure greater compliance with regulations.
The downside of on-premises environments is that the costs associated with managing and maintaining the entire solution can be exponentially higher than with a cloud solution. In fact, an on-premise configuration requires the (capital) purchase of servers, computers, network devices, and software licenses. Not to mention the costs of maintenance and stops that need to be implemented when something breaks or doesn’t work properly. Not only. It would be best if you also had integration skills and skilled IT employees who can handle potential issues that may arise.
Furthermore, suppose the business makes it necessary to expand the IT infrastructure. In that case, new machines must be purchased and must be ordered, delivered, configured, and put into operation before they can be used. In this case, the cloud comes out as the winner in the on-premise vs. on-cloud.
A mix between on-premise and on the cloud: the hybrid infrastructure
The debate on the pros and cons of on-premise vs. on-cloud is very heated and involves various companies. However, there is an alternative to choosing only one solution over the other, an increasingly widespread solution that allows you to have the best of both worlds: we are talking about hybrid infrastructure, a mix between on-premise and on the cloud that allows you to have a “static” part of the IT infrastructure in house and a “dynamic” part on the cloud. This allows you to always have the right IT infrastructure available to meet the most diverse needs, for example, to use on-premise strategic legacy applications not available in the cloud or scale up in real-time when you need more power calculation. In the case of hybrid infrastructure, the difference can be made by the WAN connection, which must be adequate to support significant data traffic.
Infrastructure as a Service: Leverage the benefits of the cloud through on-premise infrastructure
Recently, there has been an increasing diffusion of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) proposals, such as that of HPE GreenLake, which expect to exploit all the benefits of the cloud on-premise.
In practice, a service provider installs the infrastructure on-premise and in an agreed and personalized configuration based on the company’s growth needs and takes care of all maintenance, updating, management, and assistance services. The company pays only for the resources it uses and for the time it uses them.
Such an approach not only allows you to benefit from rapid scalability should the need arise, but it eliminates the capital expenditure of your own machines and systems (and the risk of them becoming obsolete) and turns it into an operating expense. All with the certainty of operating with the security, performance, and compliance aspects ensured by the on-premise.