Cloud versus on Premise
Most organisations now face a major crossroads when their infrastructure platform needs upgrading or reaches the end of its life - at least in the manufacturer’s eyes (yes, we know that's in their interest). In years gone by, the decision was to buy an updated version of the current manufacturer’s platform, or switch vendors. Nowadays, however, you have another option: instead of installing new servers and internal networks on your premises, you can opt for Cloud hosting.
Cloud hosting typically involves a number of virtual servers, hosted by a third-party and accessed via the Internet.
There’s a strong marketing buzz around cloud computing, and it’s easy to see why. Cloud hosting is cost-efficient because it does not require organisations to make CAPEX investments in additional, depreciating IT infrastructure. With the Cloud you normally only pay for what you use and you will never again have to worry about maintenance, upgrades or support, leaving you more time to focus on growing your business.
However Cloud isn't the nirvana it can be cracked up to be and certainly isn't always the correct solution for every situation, because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of hosting. One organisation may find the cloud to be a better choice, while another will benefit more from an on-premise solution, or even a hybrid combination. You need to assess your organisation’s business needs before making these decisions, because there are advantages and disadvantages for both options.
To know what works for your organisation, consider the pros and cons of each option, for the following key factors:
|Initial cost||Your organisation will pay licensing fees to use the software. These may be pay-as-you-use, pay-per-month, pay-per user, depending on the Cloud service option you select. However, consider the other costs involved in changing over to a new system and be aware that subscription fees can increase over time, in line with usage.||Your organisation will pay Capex licensing fees to own the software. Payment is upfront, so you can expect a fixed price.|
|IT infrastructure||Your organisation will need to invest in high-speed resilient connectivity to ensure access to your cloud environment.||Your organization will have to provide its own servers, hosting, backup, internal network connection, Internet connection, and all other kinds of hardware and software as needed.|
|Customization||Customization is limited, and is dictated by what the provider allows.||Customization can be extensive, to suit the exact needs of your organization.|
|Control||Your organization will have to hand over control to the provider. This includes giving the provider access to your organization’s data (under rigorous security conditions).||Your organization will have control over its data and the whole system.|
|Implementation||Implementation time is usually quick, because the provider has done this many times (providing you have chosen wisely) and already has the infrastructure set up.||You will have to wait for the IT staff to complete the integration, which can take a while, depending on the complexity of the IT infrastructure.|
|IT support||Your provider will handle the majority of the IT support as part of their service.||Your organization will have to create or maintain a team of dedicated IT staff to address maintenance and support issues.|
|Mobility||As long as you have Internet connection and secure log-on permissions, you can access your data from anywhere, using a mobile device.||You have to go through client servers or terminal servers like Citrix to access your data on a mobile device, unless your organization exposes the service to the Internet.|
|Security||There are more risks in accessing data using the Internet. Your organization has to choose a provider that offers reliable security. Some customers may require that you store your data in the UK.||Because data is stored on location and is only accessible internally, there are fewer security risks involved. Also, your organization can make access as restricted as possible.|
As you can see from the table, Cloud hosting is an ideal option for start-up companies that need flexibility and scalability, or organisations at an investment crossroads but with the need to keep capital spend to a minimum. On-premise hosting is typically a better choice for established companies with existing IT infrastructure that can support the services they need, with a minor upgrade.
You might be really pleased you did!
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