Cloud vs. On-Premise Software Deployment – What’s Right for You?
As the two main methods of software deployment, it's important to compare both cloud and on-premise deployment to see what's best.
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In the modern world of enterprise IT, cloud computing has become an indispensable tool for the integration of outside services through remote servers handling requests and responses for the data that drives our lives. However, not too long ago, integrating with third-party services meant housing servers on-site and maintaining those connections yourself. This is referred to as On-Premise (on-prem) and is still a viable means for integrating the data that contributes to your application’s functionality.
Unsurprisingly, there are benefits and drawbacks to both means of integrating software and services into your codebase. In the following article, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons to both cloud and on-prem, and try to give you a better idea of what you should look for when building out your application.
On-premise software is just what the name suggests — software that is located on a company’s own servers and protected by its internal firewall. For a very long time, this was the only means of integrating outside applications or software with a company’s codebase. The benefits are quite obvious; an organization can fully manage and have complete control over their integrations with external functionality through this means. This means tighter control over a very important part of adding external services to an application — security. There is an unarguable peace of mind that can be attributed to knowing that your data is located in-house and not being passed through a cloud service. Usually, in order to host software on-prem, companies must purchase a license or a copy of the software they will be hosting.
Unlike software hosted in-house, cloud computing is hosted entirely remotely on another server by a third-party. Cloud-based servers offer data or functionality on a pay-as-needed basis, so they can effectively scale with companies needs in a much simpler fashion than with on-prem. The minimal effort in getting started with external software through the cloud is a major benefit to the remote infrastructure.
Cloud vs. On-Premises
So, now that we know a little bit about each of these means of integration, let’s jump into comparing them across a handful of factors to see which one lines up best with your application’s needs.
On-prem will always require a higher investment in getting off the ground because hardware and installation are necessary for the housing of on-site servers. One cost often overlooked with on-prem is the dedicated support and maintenance required for upkeep to the servers. However, over an extended period of time, on-prem’s costs may end up being less than a monthly fee accrued by using a cloud-based server’s subscription costs.
Cloud servers generally employ a monthly fee or a pay-as-you-go service fee. While these will require less money to get started, these fees can grow over time as a company scales up, leading to a higher amount of total money invested in the external software.
Scaling with an on-prem solution will require hardware and/or software upgrades to fully account for the increased data flow. Manual labor associated with said upgrades will also be a factor in growing the capabilities of an on-prem solution. If your company is capable of handling these upgrades in-house, they will pose less of a headache but will be a necessary undertaking as your organization’s user base or data stores grow.
Cloud-based subscriptions to a certain amount of data can always be increased, so this solution will generally be an easier undertaking when it comes time to scale up. Cloud servers are usually very flexible when it comes to the growth of its consumers.
On-prem can supply an application with their necessary functionality regardless of an internet connection, which can greatly add to their worth for certain companies. Data will also be available at faster speeds than a cloud-based server, although this is less of an issue in the modern days of high-speed internet connections.
Cloud servers, unlike on-prem, are only available through an internet connection, making them susceptible to an outage. Cloud-based solutions are more and more competent about keeping outages to a minimum but can be hit with unintended lapses of service due to unforeseen problems arising.
On-premise, unsurprisingly, will offer a much larger level of customization. This is as a result of software being housed on-site, which gives an application the ability to add or tailor code within their own servers to meet their needs. There are a few downsides to this, however. Customization can increase implementation time, as custom code must be added prior to the service being made available to users. Customization can also cause problems down the line when a vendor updates software, as the custom code may very well need to be refactored to account for the changes in the updates.
Cloud-based solutions offer much less in the means of customization. However, this allows for much more stability and frequent updates from the vendor as a result of less customization. In many cases, an organization can work with a vendor and request functionality that may not be present at the time to be implemented in future updates.
Security is a major selling point of on-prem solutions, as the data is housed entirely in-house. With on-prem, an organization’s data is in their own hands, which alleviates much of the concerns over data security being in a vendor’s servers. While this is a huge concern for many companies when it comes to external software integrations, organizations employing on-prem solutions should make sure that they are capable of handling the data security protocols themselves.
Because cloud-based solutions handle sensitive data from their consumers, one should always make sure that the vendor is aware of and proactive about security threats. Most vendors will be open with consumers and strict about their data security standards, but they generally cannot offer the same peace of mind that comes with an on-prem solution.
What’s Right for You?
Sadly, this is not a question that can be answered in one broad stroke. Different organizations have different needs, and what’s right for one may very well not be right for others. Larger enterprise companies with more capital are probably more capable of taking on the work that comes with an on-prem solution, while smaller to mid-sized businesses may appreciate the lower budget and less hands-on approach that comes with a cloud-based solution. There are even ways to implement a hybrid of the two integrations to fully account for a specific use case if an organization wishes to implement what it feels is the “best of both worlds.”
The only sure thing is to do your research first. Make sure that the vendor is willing to work with your organization to handle all of your software needs, be they on-prem or cloud-based. When planning out your application’s roadmap, take into account the level and scale that your codebase will need before deciding on an integration solution.
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