As your business grows, your resources and data grow. You need more space to store data. Before the cloud environment was even invented, businesses relied on on-premise software for their storage needs. They would set up and manage their own servers to store information and run their websites and applications.
Now that cloud storage is in the picture and growing in popularity, the on-premises vs. cloud solutions crossroad has begun to confuse business owners. Honestly, managing your own servers is pretty messy. It can also get really expensive. On the other hand, how safe are your business information on the cloud?
As a business owner, you have a hefty daily workload. It won’t get easier or lighter as your business scales. The less you worry, the easier it is to make serious decisions. I wrote this blog post to help you choose the right storage solution for your business and take some of that weight off your shoulders.
This blog post will clearly define each storage solution and what they are used for and gives you detailed information on the on-premises vs. cloud storage comparison.
What Is On-Premise Software?
Before jumping to the on-premises vs. cloud storage comparison, you need to know how each solution functions. An on-premise solution is a software that lets you store and handle all your data in-house. You will purchase a copy of the software and install it on your own servers. Having your data on an on-premise server means you will have total control over the security and protection of your business information. If your business needs data security, the old-school on-premise storage is great for you.
Storing your data in-house has its own disadvantages. Installing the software on your own servers means that your servers need extra care and maintenance. If only one server fails, you will be at the risk of losing the information on your on-premise software. Servers need maintenance and management. This is not just financially expensive. You need the right human resources to take care of your servers. Managing your data in-house needs server hardware, software license, integration capabilities, and IT employees, and this is all on a normal day. God forbid a server breaks or needs to be repaired. All hell will break loose.
What Is Cloud Storage?
In terms of function, cloud is exactly the same as on-premise software; They both store data. The most important difference that encouraged business owners to choose cloud over on-premise software is the servers. Storing data on cloud means that a third-party provider host all the data for you.
A great advantage of using cloud is scalability. You can use cloud storage as needed. If you need more storage, you can scale up. If you have extra storage you don’t need, you can easily scale down. Now that you don’t need to buy one or multiple servers, and well, don’t need to maintain them, costs will drastically decrease. Cloud providers do all the server maintenance for you, and all you need to do is pay the subscription fee of your chosen plan.
Now, server maintenance is not all cloud providers do. Think of it this way: A storage unit that is updated, renovated, and organized every time you visit it. Everything on cloud is configured and updated all the time. Plus, any software integrated into your environment is ready to use as soon as you subscribe. Cloud offers you a ready-to-use environment. Although, there are some factors that might worry you when using cloud.
On-Premises vs. Cloud — Pros & Cons
As I mentioned earlier, the key on-premises vs. cloud storage difference is where the servers are based. Privacy, security, software ownership, and cost are some of the other differences. On-premise software are more reliable and secure. Cloud services are more affordable and easier to use. With on-premise solutions, you must put in extra effort and time to maintain servers. With cloud, on the other hand, you need a fast and reliable internet connection.
Before getting to the on-premises vs. cloud comparison, I’m going to focus on each solution and tell you the advantages and disadvantages of using them:
The Advantages of On-Premises
Control: Since you own the software and servers, you have full control over managing your data. Any changes, configurations, or updates will be done under your supervision.
Connectivity: You do not need third-party or external factors like an internet connection to access your stored data.
The Disadvantages of On-Premises
Cost: the upfront cost of buying servers and acquiring software ownership or license is not exactly affordable and can be out of your budget. Let’s not forget about maintenance and support costs.
Maintenance: On-premise storage needs maintenance. The hardware, software, storage, backups, integrations, and recoveries are all different aspects of maintenance. This can become an issue for small businesses with a limited budget and IT resources.
Deployment: Software deployment is the group of actions done to prepare the software for access and usage. Since on-premise software has to be installed on multiple servers and computers, deployment takes a lot of time.
Also read: Hosting Multiple Websites on a Single Server
The Advantages of Cloud
Accessibility: Cloud allows access to your data anytime, anywhere, on any device or web browser.
Affordability: Cloud storage does not require an upfront payment. You will be paying a subscription fee monthly or yearly based on the duration of using cloud, just like any other online service. The cost you pay monthly covers maintenance, storage, backups, and support services.
Security: You don’t have to go above and beyond to make sure your data are secure with cloud. Because the cloud providers are offering security so much higher than what you can do for your in-house storage solutions.
Deployment: Since there is no physical server to deal with, cloud storage deployment takes a few hours. Because, well, everything is done over the internet.
Scalability: Cloud services are extraordinary in terms of flexibility. You can scale your storage services up or down based on your business’s requirements.
The Disadvantages of Cloud
Connectivity: Since everything is happening over the internet, you need a reliable connection. If you have a poor internet connection, it will get pretty hard to access your data.
Cost: It’s true that you don’t need to pay anything upfront for cloud. But, based on the duration of using cloud storage, your total payment might be much more for the cloud service than the on-premise software upfront costs.
On-Premises vs. Cloud — Comparison
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages in the on-premises vs. cloud storage dilemma, it’s time to learn how exactly the two differ. There are different factors to consider when comparing two products or services. In the on-premises vs. cloud storage comparison, the factors we discuss are deployment, control, security, compliance, cost, and mobility. These are serious factors you need to consider in order to make the right decision. You need to decide how each factor matters. Based on your business storage needs, you can decide whether cloud is the suitable solution or on-premise software is the right answer to your storage needs.
I have already spoken a little about deployment and on-premise software. On-premise solutions have a hard and time-consuming deployment process. The deployment happens in-house and using the business’s infrastructure. You and your team will be responsible for software deployment, maintenance, and every other related process. So, it’s important to have the necessary knowledge about the software and installation process. Basically, if you don’t have the right people on your IT team, you will be in trouble.
In a cloud environment, everything, and I mean everything, is done by the service provider. Every process related to deployment, maintenance, and support is done by the cloud provider’s IT team. You don’t need to worry about anything. As of deployment, the process is easy and takes no time compared to in-house software deployment.
It’s fair to say that in the on-premises vs. cloud storage comparison, cloud is much easier to set up and maintain.
On-premise storage allows you to control absolutely everything related to your data storage processes. You will have 100% control and privacy over your servers, software, and data. If your business associates with confidential information, on-premise storage is an assuring storage solution in terms of safety, privacy, and control.
Using cloud storage has raised an important question for business owners: Who owns the data? The thing is that all your data and encryption keys are in the possession of the third-party provider. What happens if you have no internet connection or experience downtime? You lose all control over your data.
Conclusion? Between on-premises and cloud storage solutions, you have more ( or better say, full) control over your data and storage solution when using on-premise software.
If you handle highly sensitive information in your business, security is as crucial as control for you. You will be seeking a high level of security and protection that only on-premise software can offer. Security is the main concern of the majority of businesses. That’s why they would prefer not to use cloud storage solutions. If you are a large enterprise and can handle the costs and maintenance of on-premise software, then this is your best storage solution.
I’m not saying cloud is not safe. As I mentioned before, cloud providers do all they can to keep their client’s data safe. But still, it’s all the internet’s fault. Anything on the world wide web can get breached and hacked, and that’s a fact as old as the existence of the internet. Information like login credentials and personal information “can” be at risk when stored on cloud.
If you want my final opinion, I’d say that on-premise software is safe and cloud is relatively safe. If you can, go for on-premise software. But, the promise of cloud is still worth taking the security risk if you are not handling sensitive information.
Have you ever read the terms and conditions or privacy regulations when buying a product or signing a contract? Let me tell you why now, all of a sudden, I’m talking about terms and conditions. Every business, regardless of industry, works under some sort of regulatory control. This means that they will notify you in their privacy policies that your personal information like credentials and credit card information will be stored and kept safe with the company and any third-party companies involved.
How does this affect storage solutions? Companies that are associated with these regulations have to be compliant and always know where their data is stored and managed. So, for example, if your business operates under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), it’s best to use on-premise software in-house.
Now companies that choose to use cloud storage have to ensure their third-party provider is up to code and compliant with the regulations that matter to the company. This is to ensure that company, employee, and client information is safe, secure, and trackable.
I don’t think we need to spend too much time comparing prices between the two storage solutions. You already know the answer.
Building a storage solution from scratch is a hefty job. The biggest downside of using on-premise software is the upfront cost of software license and purchasing servers. As you already know, expenses don’t end here. Maintaining and managing the software is not exactly cheap either. You need to have the money to work with on-premise software.
Cloud, on the other hand, is the affordable alternative. It’s like the third-party providers are the real heroes here saying, hey, let us handle everything for you and store your data in return for a small portion of your monthly budget. Even if the total cost of cloud in the period of time you are using it exceeds the initial costs of setting up on-premise software, it’s still totally worth it because you are not suddenly going bankrupt only for storing your data
My final verdict? Cloud wins the cost comparison.
How accessible is on-premise software? The best way to access your data on on-premise software is through the computers and servers the software is installed on. There are ways to connect to the software remotely, for example, using an RDP solution. Still, RDPs usually need third-party solutions, and working with them might be difficult.
If you need to access your data anywhere and at any time, go for cloud storage. As long as you have an active internet connection, you can access your data from any device.
As long as mobility matters, cloud solutions win the cloud vs. in-house servers or on-premise software battle.
Take a look at the table below to have an overview of the features offered by the two storage solutions:
|Data center single tenancy||✔||✖|
|Highly secure data encryption||✔||✔|
|Large and regular investment need for infrastructure||✔||✖|
|Data visibility and control||✔||✖|
|Automated data backups and recovery||✖||✔|
|Near-zero downtime risk||✖||✔|
On-Premise Data Center vs. Colocation Data Center — Which one’s better?
Before I move on, I want to talk about another storage solution. Colocation is relatively more similar to on-premises than cloud storage. Say you want the advantages of in-house storage but can’t afford to purchase servers or don’t have the physical location for them. Colocation allows you to rent the space for your servers or any other computing hardware from third-party facilities. These facilities have the power and internet systems to support your servers and storage needs.
On-premise data center vs. colocation is not a crystal clear comparison like on-premises vs. cloud. The decision solely depends on what works best for you. With colocation, you need to know that the initial setup fees are somewhat the same as on-premises. Transitioning to colocation can also get risky and expensive. But, colocation facilities often offer high-security protection. The internet systems they offer can also minimize downtime.
Migrating from On-Premise to Cloud
The cloud vs. in-house servers comparison usually ends with a question: Should I migrate from on-premise to cloud? If you concluded from this comparison that cloud would work better for you as a storage solution, then yes! Absolutely. Migration means transferring data from your in-house servers to a cloud storage solution. But, migrating from on-premise to cloud is not an easy process. Don’t let this migration business scare you. There are two methods to transfer data from on-premise to cloud: Online and offline migration. As long as you know which method is easier for you and what you should do, you will be on the right track.
In an offline migration, you will physically transfer data from your servers to the cloud. You need to use physical storage hardware like portable disk drives to transfer data. This method is a bit time-consuming and requires planning since it’s a manual transfer. Your admins will copy your data from your servers to portable devices and then deliver them to your chosen cloud provider. The cloud provider will then transfer your data from the portable device to its cloud servers using internet systems that are way faster and more secure than the public internet. This method is a bit more expensive than the online method because you need to buy or rent a number of portable devices and also pay for the physical transfer from your company to the provider’s location.
The online migration method is the easier method. You will transfer data directly from your server or computer to the cloud using an internet connection. Your IT team has to copy files from the computer and paste them on the cloud. Online migration is relatively faster and more affordable. All you need to pay for is network bandwidth and data ingress fees. The online method is more popular because businesses usually don’t own huge volumes of data that would be hard to transfer online. There are also online cloud transfer tools like Google Cloud Migrate that offer automation capacities to smooth out the data transfer.
How to Choose the Right Method?
Choosing the right method to transfer data from on-premise servers to cloud mainly depends on the amount of data you need to transfer. Another factor that contributes to the decision is time and speed. How quickly do you need to transfer data?
While online migration is the more popular method, it can be tricky for businesses that need to transfer a large amount of data in a short period of time. So, the first thing you need to do is to figure out how much data you are migrating.
Let me give you an example. If you have 1 TB of data to transfer over a 1 Gbps network connection, the online migration will probably take less than 3 hours. However, if you need to transfer 1000 TB of data over the same network connection, you will be living in front of your computer for the next 100 days. In that case, offline migration is a better option.
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On-Premises vs. Cloud — Making the Final Decision
Choosing the right storage solution really only depends on your business. It depends on a lot of factors like your budget, the scale of your data, the sensitivity of your information, your compliance, and your IT team’s proficiency. Compared to cloud, on-premise software are pretty vintage. The access, prices, and technology cloud storage providers offer cannot be compared to in-house servers. On the other hand, handling sensitive data requires security and control that you can only get with on-premise software. Cloud storage is perfect for small and growing businesses that deal with less sensitive data. This on-premises vs. cloud storage comparison has given you every bit of detail you need to know to make an informed decision on which solution is best for your business. Also, if you came to the conclusion that you need to migrate from in-house servers to cloud services, don’t panic, you now have all the information for a smooth transfer.
Is cloud more secure than on-premise?
Cloud’s security depends a lot on the third-party provider you choose. But using an on-premise storage system is way more secure than cloud because you will be in control of the servers’ management.
What are the cloud vs. data center differences?
Deployment, costs, accessibility, compliance, scalability, security, and management are the comparing factors between cloud and data centers.
What is the main problem with using cloud?
The fact that cloud providers cannot offer the security levels you have with on-premise storage is the main problem with using cloud.