Cloud vs On-site: The Pros and Cons
Are you tired of hearing the word cloud and everything related to it? If so, you should know that this word isn’t going away. In fact, it is a relevant strategy for numerous IT departments. Recently, the idea of hosting computing resources off-site, such as in a provider’s data center, has gained plenty of traction. In spite of this, there are IT departments that still struggle with whether they should continue with the traditional on-site servers or adopt cloud computing technologies.
There is plenty of momentum behind cloud. Some startups already use Amazon Web Services to run everything. According to Spiceworks, around 93% of organizations use some type of cloud service, such as IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, or some other hosted IT services. On the other hand, there is plenty of reasons for keeping everything, including your servers and equipment, in-house. If you are trying to decide what to do, here’s a look at the pros and cons associated with both the cloud and on-site storage.
CLOUD: PROVIDES MORE FLEXIBILITY, WHILE REDUCING CONTROL
- It almost goes without saying that convenience is the primary benefit associated with cloud-based software and infrastructure. After all, someone else is responsible for maintaining the public cloud infrastructure and if you are using a public cloud, such as Microsoft Azure or AWS, they also maintain the hardware. The cloud service provider will be the one swapping out buggy components, replacing old hardware, spinning up new servers, and making certain security measures stay up-to-date.
- Ongoing support is simple. Once again, you don’t have to worry about replacing hard drives or patching firmware, which eliminates all those tedious tasks related to system maintenance. As an added bonus, OS patches are automatically rolled out in the case of SaaS and PaaS, which takes a significant amount of work off your IT department’s back.
- Cloud setup is easy. In some cases, getting started with a SaaS solution, such as a file sharing application or a cloud help desk, is as easy as completing a short form and hitting submit. On the other hand, on-site storage requires you to acquire hardware, while also taking care of installation, project managing, and any other issues you may run into.
- Cloud is flexible. Cloud service can give as much or as little as you need by automatically responding to fluctuating computing requirements. Even if you need a website for a couple of months, you can quickly and easily set it up and shut it down when you are done, without buying the first piece of hardware. In fact, according to a 2014 Gartner survey, “operational agility” is the primary reason for cloud uptake.
- Cloud is scalable. If most of your operations are ran on-premises, scaling often requires you to purchase and deploy new servers, which is expensive and labor intensive. Cloud gives you the option of pay-as-you-go with scaling instantly done behind the scenes. (It’s somewhat similar to a utility company.) If your company sees a spike in activity during certain seasons, you can opt to add cloud resources or user licenses during this time. When things slow back down, simply scale down.
When you have a huge or exceptionally specialized task to take care of, cloud service providers give your IT department the chance to focus on it by offloading other tasks to specialized teams, processes, and infrastructures.
ON-SITE: OFFERS MORE CONTROL WITH LESS SCALABILITY
Let’s switch gears and look at the benefits of server vs cloud. In most companies, on-site IT is the default setting. The truth is that there are still several good reasons for running applications on your own servers, such as:
- On-site performance tends to be better. Cloud computing is simply IT resources delivered over an IP network. For you, this means that if your internet connection is running slow, you can anticipate latency, which will likely result in complaints that your server is slow and decrease productivity. An in-house approach to computing means your data is right there, so you can quickly access it and it never has to leave your private network.
- Hardware choices are left up to you. When using a public cloud, you may get stuck with commodity servers that allow the provider to save a ton of money, but doesn’t necessarily benefit you. If you choose to DIY, hardware choices are entirely left up to you, which gives you the option of splurging for the most up-to-date machine or opting for a more economical option.
- You have access to your on-site data offline. With a public cloud, anything from a problem with your ISP to an internet wide issue can leave you cut off from your data. When you opt for on-site, this is less of an issue because you still have access to files even without being connected to the internet.
- On-site costs may be more affordable. When you decide what and when to buy, you’re less bound by what a provider may be charging for a key service. As your company grows, scale could work in your favor, meaning that local servers may be less expensive than cloud servers.
- With on-site, you know exactly where your security stands. Using your own infrastructure means that you know where your data goes and where it rests. You don’t have to worry about sending sensitive information over the internet and you can rest assured it doesn’t end up on a server in a random data center.
When it comes to cloud vs on-site, your choice should be based on your organization’s specific needs. Many companies opt to do both, by mixing and matching public cloud services and on-site for various applications. This allows them to get the best of both worlds. In the end, it’s all about finding the ideal combination of scalability, control, and cost savings.