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On Premise versus The Cloud

For many businesses, moving to the cloud is a quick win in terms of scalability and resilience – but it’s not always straightforward. There are gotchas you need to be aware of, and sometimes the cloud simply isn’t the right answer.

It’s fair to say that “the cloud” has taken the IT world by storm. There are cloud providers that can provide practically any IT service nowadays, and many businesses are avoiding running their own servers altogether. Cloud-based services provide lots of advantages over running your own services “on-prem”, but there are of course drawbacks: it’s not for everyone, and not all IT services are a natural fit for a cloud-based infrastructure.

Don’t just copy what you do now

The cloud isn’t just about taking the servers you have in your office or data centre and running the same things on somebody else’s hardware. You can do that, of course, but often a dedicated cloud service is a better fit. For example, there’s no need for a dedicated database server: most cloud providers make a database service available.

Cloud-based server offerings – for example those available from Amazon – also operate very differently to traditional server models. You will need to re-architect your systems at least a little. To take full advantage of all the cloud has to offer will be a significant project.

Will you save money?

Cost is often the first question when considering a move from a model where you buy your hardware to one where you pay a monthly fee. It’s easy to compare the cost of buying a server to the monthly cloud computing cost, but don’t forget that once you’ve bought a server, you still have to power and cool it; you need the right people to maintain it; you need to find the right set of applications to run on it; maintain those applications; take backups and store them somewhere; and so on. By the time you account for all of those factors, outsourcing to the cloud is often far more cost effective even if you need multiple cloud services to replace a single server.

Will it be fast enough?

Connectivity is paramount when dealing with the cloud. The cloud is, after all, just “someone else’s computer” and you now have to get to it over the Internet rather than your office network. If your offices are out in the sticks this may be a real problem, but if you or your staff regularly work out of the office (or don’t even have an office) then moving your services to the cloud can be a big advantage.

If staff are going to work from home, make sure all of them have adequate Internet access.

Data protection

Security is of prime importance in today’s world. Can you trust somebody else to be the custodian of your most precious business secrets? Can you sufficiently restrict who has access to your data or systems? The big cloud providers all offer advanced firewall capabilities, data encryption at rest and while in transit, and more technological measures that mean security can be much better in the cloud than outside.

Trust and Accountability are critical, particularly if you work with larger organisations or government departments. Such clients may have onerous reporting requirements or require adherence to standards including PCI-DSS, ISO 27001 and ISO 9001. The larger cloud providers are far more likely to be able to adhere to strict compliance requirements than smaller providers.

Dealing with workload peaks and troughs

Scale is an area where cloud providers are unbeatable. If you have a seasonal business or the occasional need to run complex computational jobs, the cloud lets you bring in resources as you need them and pay for only what you use.

What the cloud excels at is “making it somebody else’s problem”. You can delegate your difficult problems to someone else so that you can get on with your core business. This involves giving up a measure of control over your systems, but the payback is that you no longer need to worry about many aspects of those systems.

What we do and how we can help

At Tiger Computing, we build and support scalable Linux solutions for high tech, fast growth businesses, using both on-premise and cloud technologies. Our client base includes engineering companies such as Ericsson, the NHS and a number of leading bioscience companies.

If you’re considering a move to the cloud and want to explore your options, book one of our Strategy Sessions. There you can discuss your situation with one of our Solutions Consultants and come away with an outline plan to move you forwards.

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