As an IT company, we get asked all the time, “cloud-based or on-prem?” The truth is, there is no one size fits all approach. It depends entirely on what's important to your business. Here, I'll analyze the pros and cons of each to help you discern which option works best for you. But before we do that, let’s go over some basic server knowledge.
What is a server?
A server is a type of computer or device that allows for the transformation of data. Its purpose is to fulfill requests from the client. A server delivers the information that your computer (the client) requests. Say you (the client) order food from Uber Eats (the server), which then delivers it to you. A request is made and an answer is delivered.
What are my options?
When you're setting up the IT infrastructure for your company, you will be faced with numerous, high-cost decisions that will set the foundation for your company’s infrastructure. My goal here is to ensure that you make the right choice for your business.
What is an on-premise (on-prem) server?
An on-premise server is a physical, on-site server that a company must manage and maintain individually.
What is a cloud-based server?
A cloud-based server is a virtual server hosted through cloud computing.
Now that you know your two main options, it's time to decide which server is best suited for your organization. Let’s compare both options across four main competencies: cost, security, scalability and reliability.
On-prem requires a larger upfront capital investment for hardware and installation. Once the server is installed, dedicated support and maintenance will likely be required. An on-prem server will always be more expensive in the short term.
Data security is in your hands, and it is much more of a manual process. On the other hand, you also have more control over how to secure your data. For some companies this is a serious positive, while others might not have the expertise to secure their network.
Manual labor and hardware/software is required to properly scale.
On-prem servers are not reliant on an internet connection, which is important for many companies.
There's typically a monthly fee and you pay as you grow. A cloud solution is much quicker to get set up and running and it has fewer maintenance expenses.
Cloud solutions are reliant on third-party security measures. The data backup process is automated, making it quicker and easier.
You'll probably find it more flexible in terms of growth, and it should be less of a hassle to expand your storage.
Cloud solutions depend on an internet connection.
Still undecided? Maybe a middle-of-the-road solution works best for you. It's possible to take the security of an on-prem server and combine it with the flexibility of cloud-based solutions — more to come on that.
Making A Decision
Knowing what you know now, it's time to decide which option is the best fit for your organization. Are you a larger enterprise with the resources to make a bigger capital investment? In that case, on-prem might be your best bet. If you're a small-to-midsize business that is budget conscious and looking for a less hands-on approach, you might consider cloud-based. If neither provide you with the results you want, stay tuned for my next article on hybrid solutions.