With more and more companies using cloud services to improve their productivity and ability to adapt to modern workplace challenges such as remote working, what are the pros and cons of keeping your companies’ data on your server, against moving everything up to the cloud?
Firstly, we need to understand the difference between on-premises and cloud computing before we can weigh them up. The main difference is where the data or software platform is being hosted.
- On-premises means the server and all of it’s associated data is kept on hardware within your organisations network and is managed by engineers internally.
- Cloud services therefore means the server and the data in this case is kept within a public cloud/datacentre such as Microsoft 365/Azure.
Companies that use on-premises servers have the benefit of being able to be very selective with the hardware that they use and can maintain and upgrade this equipment as and when they see fit. The modularity of this approach means that servers can be modified very easily and upgraded to keep up with growing demands of the company. Not only this, but the costs associated are fixed and once the hardware has been purchased and assembled, the only ongoing costs are to power the equipment.
Those that use cloud computing, however, have the benefit of not requiring the necessary skillset to maintain the server hardware being used as this is the responsibility of the cloud provider, Microsoft in this case. An organisation can benefit from all the computing power on offer without the need to employ a team of engineers to maintain all the necessary equipment. Whilst there are no upfront costs with cloud computing and cloud computing being flexible with regards to meeting the fluctuating demands of an organisation through cost scaling, monthly costs are based on usage and can therefore change month to month and as you don’t own the equipment, the costs can seem high.
From a data access standpoint, both solutions also have differences that will suit different organisations.
Companies and organisations that need high levels of security and control over their data may opt for on-premise solutions as it’s much more difficult for external parties to gain access to data that is protected within a closed network that is sat behind highly protective networking equipment such as a firewall. Whilst very secure if implemented correctly, this solution is not ideal when trying to adapt to the modern workplace and allowing users to work remotely as access to the data is reliant upon the internet connection from a user’s location to the location of the server.
This isn’t a problem when using a cloud solution as the data is stored in a datacentre that is managed by your cloud provider. The connection to your users and any given datacentre will have a higher bandwidth and resilience to be able to deal with however many individuals are required to access your data, wherever they are in the world. Unfortunately, this does come with some security issues due to the nature of user login pages being open to the internet and therefore technically accessible by anyone but using methods such as multi-factor authentication (receiving a code from a text or app) helps minimise this threat substantially.
The majority of organisations these days are benefitting from the flexibility and ease-of-use of the cloud in varying capacities. Whilst a lot have adopted an online document management system in OneDrive and SharePoint and user management in Microsoft 365, some have also decided to completely migrate their entire server infrastructure to the cloud to help eliminate the costs associated with running and maintaining their on-premises servers as well as being able to tweak the amount of required resources to help save further.
In summary, whilst neither solution provides the answers to every problem, one solution will provide more benefit that the other depending on your organisation’s needs.
If complete control over server hardware and configuration is paramount then an on-premises setup would be the ideal choice, however, more and more companies and organisations these days are realising that the ability to access resources remotely and manage servers on a central platform without the need for dedicated engineers increasingly appealing.
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