Why does it so often seem like more fun to attend the party than it does to play host? Perhaps it’s because attendees don’t have to do any of the work, pay for supplies or clean up the inevitable mess at the end.
Correspondingly, cloud-based solutions, which organizations access via the Internet and are hosted by a third-party vendor, leave users with a lot less work overall. Meanwhile, on-premises solutions – which are installed on users’ computers – seem to burden companies with added administration chores, upfront costs and more headaches in the end.
Even so, many organizations still surprisingly believe that – for the sake of security, compliance and control – they need to run their solutions on-premises. If you happen to be one of these companies, then you’re probably also painfully aware of the mountainous responsibilities that go along with maintaining an inherently multifaceted on-premises system.
In an ironic twist, however, it’s the very responsibilities associated with an on-premises solution that often chip away at its main benefits: namely, boosting productivity, lowering overall total cost of ownership (TCO), and shoring up stability and security. Let’s take a closer look at some of the risks organizations face with on-premises solutions and concurrently, some of the conveniences companies enjoy with cloud-based solutions.
The price is not right
One of the most glaring differences between cloud-based and on-premises solutions lies in their pricing structures. Typically, cloud solutions are priced on a monthly or annual subscription basis and incur additional recurring fees for support, training and updates.
Conversely, on-premises solutions equate to a one-time upfront license fee based either on the size of an organization or on the number of users. Similar to cloud solutions, on-premises solutions also carry with them recurring fees for updates, support and training.
The literal bottom line is that on-premises solutions require one hefty, initial investment (also known as a traditional capital expenditure) while cloud-based solutions bear only an ongoing, overhead cost (otherwise known as an on-demand usage service model). Indeed, perhaps one of the most enticing features of a cloud solution is its low cost/low entry point, which has contributed mightily to its widespread adoption.
A cloud-based solution can also save a company ongoing IT expenses, since it lessens and often erases the need for hardware, software and internal IT reliance. To be sure, once an on-premises solution is launched, IT departments will be regularly burdened with troubleshooting, monitoring, managing uptime, keeping pace with upgrades and maintaining performance.
Of course, over time, system costs do tend to converge, but the benefits that cloud solutions yield – including predictable costs over time, a dramatically cheaper initial investment and zero server infrastructure investments – seem to ultimately outweigh the drawbacks.
Stability over customization is tailor-made for most
In addition to its often-prohibitive initial price tag, an on-premises solution requires customization, which means that it will typically take more time to implement. Alternatively, a cloud-based solution – as a result of less customization – not only offers a greater level of stability but also continuous updates from the vendor.
Admittedly, organizations operating within specialized industries may crave the ability to customize a system to their precise needs, but those companies with fewer individualized needs will likely discover that a cloud system’s out-of-the-box capabilities will prove more than sufficient.
Data security is crystal clear in the cloud
Just as cost ranks as one of the weightiest considerations for organizations when it comes to deciding between an on-premises solution and a cloud-based one, so does security. It’s no wonder, since the solution a company selects will house the holy grail of company riches, including financial details, corporate trade secrets and client data.
With a cloud-based solution, data security lies in the hands of the third-party vendor, which can make some companies understandably wary, but cloud adoption rates show that those companies are becoming less apprehensive by the day.
Although it may seem safer to contain all matters of data security within the organization, some companies may not be overly adept at implementing and practicing proper data security protocols. Comparatively, reputable cloud vendors – by virtue of the fact that company data is entrusted to them – are characteristically meticulous when it comes to adhering to strict standards to keep data safe.
Mobile accessibility clouds the issue
Another area in which on-premises deployments seem to fall flat is mobile accessibility. That’s because on-premises setups often require a third-party client to enable communication between a mobile device and on-premises software, which is not so much impossible as it can be headache inducing.
Luckily, most cloud systems easily enable mobile accessibility and many even offer native mobile apps. But, because this ease of access often means that employees are accessing company data on their personal mobile devices, this introduces greater security considerations, which companies will need to discuss with their cloud providers.
Clearly, there are many reasons (overall affordability, increased productivity and mobile accessibility, to name a few) organizations are increasingly choosing cloud-based solutions over on-premises ones. Yes, spending already-limited IT resources on an on-premises solution may yield user control, but often at the expense of innovation and agility. Looks like it’s time to get this hosted party started.
Kim Kay is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who specializes in technology and possesses more than 20 years of experience in B2B and consumer publishing. A noted writer and editor across a myriad of mediums in both in the U.S. and overseas, she has also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Computer Technology Review for more than a decade. Follow her on Twitter @kimberlygkay and like her on Facebook at Ink Spot Publishing.