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Plutora Blog - DevOps, Software Development, Test Environment Management, Test management

On-premise vs. Cloud: What You Need to Know

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With the onset of big data and advances in computation technology, many businesses made a shift from on-premise to cloud platforms for data storage and infrastructure management systems. But what led to this shift? Why do businesses continue making the move to cloud services? In this post, we’ll address these questions by looking at what on-premise and cloud services offer and how they differ.

Here’s what you can expect to learn from this article:

  1. What is on-premise storage?
  2. What is cloud storage?
  3. Differences between on-premise and cloud environments

1. What Is On-premise Storage?

Like the name suggests, on-premise storage entails storing your organizations’ data servers at the physical location of the organization. The data storage servers are built on the premises, giving the company full control and responsibility of computing and of administrating and maintaining resources and infrastructure.

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To set up a local storage environment, the organization must first purchase software licenses. Furthermore, the underlying hardware infrastructure (database, servers) necessary to run the software is purchased and built in-house. In-house IT teams and engineers operate, manage, control, and maintain the functioning of the whole environment (software and hardware components).

2. What Is Cloud storage?

Unlike on-premise software environments, cloud software platforms allow organizations’ to store their data and necessary infrastructure off-premise. This means that organizations’ don’t have to build their own data storage systems. Instead, data servers and software are provided by a third-party service.

Furthermore, your organizations’ in-house IT team is not responsible for managing the software or hardware infrastructure. Instead, your IT team focuses on controlling and managing data availability, access, security, and so on. The cloud service provider takes care of operating and maintaining data servers and upgrades.

Now that you have a brief idea of what on-premise and cloud environments entail, let’s dive into the details of their differences.

3. Differences Between On-premise and Cloud Storage

IT Manager’s Focus: On-premise

To fully understand the difference between working with on-premise versus cloud storage, let’s examine the roles of two IT managers. One is working in an on-premise computing environment at company A and the other is leading the technological developments and advancements at organization B, which is a cloud-based. The IT manager in organization A oversees the IT department and has the following responsibilities:

  • Establish storage infrastructure and set up in-house network access protocols
  • Supervise, manage, maintain, and administer the entire on-premise computing infrastructure
  • Deal with any malfunctions or equipment replacement in the on-premise environment
  • Build and maintain an in house security system: This entails monitoring all the hardware and software, checking access permissions, setting up firewalls and VPNs, and more. It also includes securing the physical infrastructure housed within the organization.

IT Manager’s Focus: Cloud

On the other hand, at organization B, the IT manager focuses on different responsibilities:

  • Since infrastructure is now provided as a service, responsibility for infrastructure maintenance and management is moved to the cloud service provider. Thus the role of an in-house enterprise and infrastructure team is pruned to strategic planning and monitoring technology and resource allocation to fulfill client requirements.
  • Oversee a team of cloud security experts that rigorously monitors the cloud infrastructure and data stored in the cloud; ensure that cloud applications follow security standard
  • Establish access protocols and data encryption to protect sensitive information and prevent data breaches. Carry out regular audits and checks to ensure cloud data is secure.
  • Innovate, optimize, and automate: find opportunities to optimize application development pipelines with better tools.

Although IT managers running on-premise computing have some of these duties as well, their main focus is on technical infrastructure management, whereas cloud computing allows for more time spent optimizing and driving business growth. Security concerns are higher with cloud computing due to the shared environment connected through the web. The responsibilities of the IT manager in each environment represents a shift in focus.

Cost

On premise computing requires a high up front cost because the organization builds its own infrastructure, hardware, and firmware. They must also purchase software licenses to distribute within the organization. Maintenance of the infrastructure is expensive and requires a full-fledged IT support team at all hours. On-going maintenance costs include repair or replacement of hardware, server power consumption, and other utility bills.

On the other hand, with cloud computing, organizations don’t pay to set up the infrastructure, servers, and hardware, and don’t pay for software licenses because they use software provided by the cloud service provider. Instead, a third-party cloud service provider takes care of the storage hardware and resource allocation requirements, as well as the associated maintenance costs. However, the provider charges an on-going monthly subscription cost, which sums to a fraction of the upfront cost of building and maintaining an on-premise environment.

Data Security

On-premise environments have their own data security systems that are not connected or shared with the outside world. Owing to this, many organizations that are responsible for highly sensitive data, such as banking details, customer data, and confidential government documents, prefer on-premise storage.

Cloud environments are more susceptible to external threats because the data is housed on a cloud shared by several other clients. Many cloud service providers offer highly sophisticated security tools and have accredited security certificates. However, because the cloud is accessible through the internet, there is a higher risk (cybersecurity threats and hackers) associated with cloud, than with on-premise environments.

Scalability and Flexibility

On-premise environments are fully dependent on their available infrastructure and available resources. Thus, if an organization wants to scale up and add more storage, they have to purchase or upgrade their physical servers. This is time-consuming and expensive, especially for data-driven organizations that are in constant need of more resources.

Cloud environments are highly flexible in terms of resource allocation. Organizations pay for the resources they use. They can instantly scale up and attain more storage or internet usage without putting effort into the underlying technical aspects. Moreover, when the organization needs less or no resources, it can scale down or shut down without inferring any extra costs.

Control

Organizations that use an on-premise environment have full control over their data. It is only shared within the internal network of the organization for the most part, although in rare circumstances they may choose to share it with other parties. On-premise environments also have more control in terms of tackling any data breaches or downtime issues. Thus, they can more quickly mitigate risks, address breaches, and reduce downtime.

On the other hand, the cloud service provider has access to the organizations’ data. Due to this, the organization doesn’t have full control of their own data. Issues concerning data privacy and vulnerability are challenging in cloud environments. Moreover, if the service provider faces any downtime, the organization can’t do much except for wait until they gain back access to their data.

Conclusion

Now that you’re aware of the key differences, you might wonder if it’s wiser to choose a cloud or on-premise environment. Organizations that are continuously deploying applications would benefit from a cloud platform. DevOps principles of continuous development, continuous testing, and continuous deployment are at the heart of these organizations. Many data-driven organizations are shifting to the cloud because of the scalability and flexibility needed for their goals. Plutora can help organizations attain rapid growth by mitigating and resolving conflicts in application testing environments. Since continuous testing is crucial to facilitate continuous deployment, Plutora can help grow organizations.

On the other hand, on-premise environments might be more suitable for organizations that house highly confidential information. Whilst both systems have their pros and cons, the decision of which to choose depends on an organization’s needs and goals.

Zulaikha Greer

Zulaikha is a tech enthusiast with expertise in various domains such as data science, ML, and statistics. She enjoys researching cognitive science, marketing, and design. She's a cat lover by nature who loves to read—you can often find her with a book, enjoying Beethoven's, Mozart's, or Vivaldi's legendary pieces.