Those of us who work in IT will find it easy to know the differences, advantages, and what not to do with on-premise and cloud servers. However, those on the business side of things might not have a clear idea of these types of servers.
You may get questions about the differences between an on-premise and a cloud server, which one is better, and what is best for your business.
On-Premise vs. Cloud
Most people mistakenly think that on-premise servers are physical units. It’s not always the case.
On-premise means that the server is hosted on a network that is within your control or within the company. It can be a virtual server that you have within your premises. Conversely, a remote server is not necessarily a cloud server. Some remote servers are hosted in data centers.
You can quickly tell the difference by the way you log on to your server. Cloud servers require you to have an Internet connection to be able to gain access to it.
Data center hosted on-premise servers, on the other hand, needs a VPN or some other direct connection.
So what’s the main difference between these two?
A cloud server is going to be hosted by a service provider. Think Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS). These service providers will be the one in charge of the upkeep, maintenance, and administering the physical hosts or resources needed to deliver the server to you.
On the other hand, an on-premise server will be controlled, administered, and maintained by your IT team, and it stays within your business’ infrastructure.
Which Is Better?
The answer to this question would largely depend on your business needs. There are benefits and disadvantages to each kind of server.
When you go for a cloud server, you will benefit from being able to deploy it fast. You can also scale it up or down, depending on your needs. As such, you are only paying for the actual resources you are using, and nothing more.
Furthermore, you don’t pay too much upfront. And if you ever need more infrastructure and hardware, it’s easy and quick to do as well. You also do not have to worry about maintaining the hardware. These are all taken cared of by the service provider.
What else can you forget about? Regulatory compliance. For instance, it is Amazon who will be in charge of keeping your data secure and safe from hacking. But of course, you need to do due diligence to ensure that you select the right provider with the capabilities to deliver what you need.
Moreover, you can access your cloud server from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection.
Disadvantages of cloud servers
However, here are some caveats when choosing cloud servers. First, you will be entirely dependent on the Internet connection. If the Internet goes down, you will not be able to access your server. This can become fatal for your business if you have a widespread calamity in your area, such as massive flooding or tornadoes cutting down the Internet.
What’s more, you do not have control over the hardware that is used. If something happens to the infrastructure, your server will go out along with it.
You also give a third party access to your data. Plus, you have no control over your data’s security. Not only that, you have more people accessing your data.
The advantage of onsite servers is that you can still access it even without an Internet connection. That means you can always use data and apps that are critical to the business. You also have full control and oversight of everything: hardware, software, and the network. That means you can have everything to the right specifications.
You also do not have to deal with third parties gaining access to your information and data. Plus, security is pretty much your domain.
Disadvantages of on-premise servers
However, you should know that having an on-premise system is not going to let you be as agile as you want. Capital expenditures are going to take its toll and you would need a lot of manpower to set everything up.
Money and IT staffing aside, you will also be responsible for complying with regulations. Plus, IT security might not be easy to do. What’s more, you might have problems accessing your server from the outside. Unless of course, you set it up to be accessible with VPN and other direct connection.
So, Which One Is Better for Your Business?
The short answer: It depends on what your business is and what you need.
Do not be pressured by cloud fans. There will always be those who will praise the cloud and say that it’s the only choice. Some consultants and IT specialists will recommend the cloud for everything. However, it may not be for you.
Choose a cloud server if you have a lot of employees who will be using it frequently while they’re on the move. Because you can access the server without a VPN, the cloud is very convenient. Cloud servers are also perfect for those who are running applications that you need to be always up and available.
On the other hand, choose an on-premise server if you work with large image or video files that need to be accessed a lot by users who are located in the same office. Large files often eat up a lot of bandwidth, so moving to the cloud will most likely slow everyone down.
Or you can look at a third option: mixing cloud and on-premise in a hybrid server. You get the best of both worlds: convenience, agility, and accessibility that a cloud server offers while also having a place for workloads that are accessed by people who are onsite.
The only drawback to a hybrid approach is that it can be complicated to set up. It makes sense to study its implementation, along with the resources you need to get it off the ground.
Photo courtesy of SparkFun Electronics.