Mon, November 23, 2015

Choosing a Side: Cloud or On-Premise

Cloud vs. On-Premise Deployment

Every day more companies are taking the plunge into cloud computing. But, with the cloud, it’s not quite an all-or-nothing plunge as some might assume—there are still several situations where critical business processes are best housed and maintained securely on-premise. On-premise technology infrastructure and systems are still very much needed, even today. There are several ways your business can pick and choose which processes and systems to deploy in which space, utilizing the best of both worlds: cloud-based technology and on-premise.

The following information is intended to help you decide whether moving all or parts of your business to the cloud is right for you.

Cloud Software

Chances are, you are already familiar with cloud-based software. Most companies begin their exploration of the cloud through moving all or a piece of software to a cloud-based solution, which is basically software that is run off the Internet, sometimes referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS). Using cloud-based software is the typical way businesses dip their toes in the cloud waters with minimal risk/change to their technological systems. Most large software companies offer both cloud versions and hard-copy versions of their products. The advantages of cloud-based software is that it will always stay up-to-date, and users aren’t required to pay a large up-front fee; rather, they pay an on-going monthly fee or subscription.

Many software platforms take a hybrid approach. Microsoft Office 365 is completely cloud based, but users have the added ability to download software to their actual machines. Meanwhile, the Microsoft cloud keeps all of the data and documents synced between your allotted devices (based on your subscription type), or even company-wide for all users to access. This allows for the instant collaboration between team members that the cloud is known for.

Infrastructure Options

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) means that a third party provides servers, virtual machines and other network services in a remote data center, allowing businesses to pay for what they use. Moving to an IaaS model can be very cost-effective for organizations. They essentially avoid the cost and employee resources needed to install and maintain the machines required. Within the data center, businesses are usually allotted a specific machine, or machines that are solely dedicated to that organization. Other benefits include enhanced capabilities for backup and recovery and ease of remote access. Additionally, if you house your own on-premise infrastructure, server and system failures could result in data being lost if it isn’t properly backed up (which can also be cloud-based, or on-premise).

Hardware

Obviously, when it comes to acquiring new hardware, your options are limited to an on-premise deployment. There is no magical cloud space that can make computers appear. There are, however, all-inclusive leasing options grouped with cloud-based solutions that greatly simplify hardware deployment efforts. Companies who use this type of offering can not only deploy all of their software, infrastructure, operating systems, desktops and computing platforms in the cloud, but they can also enter into a hardware leasing plan that ensures they always receive the latest, most up-to-date hardware for their users. The leased hardware doesn’t actually store anything locally. Instead, these machines are intended to be interchangeable and easily replaceable without the need for data transfers, since all of the data is stored in, and accessed through, the cloud. This is a very appealing model for highly regulated industries such as health care, because sensitive patient info can be kept off of local machines and stored securely in one single location.

Centrality’s Complete Cloud is an example of this type of all-inclusive offering. Companies pay a per-user fee based on the software and cloud platforms they actually use, hardware requirements and infrastructure needs. The Complete Cloud even groups all technology-based bills into one monthly, per-user fee. Internet access, phone systems and hardware are just some of the many items that roll over into a month to month bill.

Private Clouds

As technology continues to improve, private clouds become more feasible, even for smaller businesses. A private cloud is a data-centric in-house or outsourced solution. It is a closed environment that is not accessible by the public. Private clouds usually reside within a company’s domain and firewalls, and are not readily accessible through the web. This alternative to the public cloud offers the added benefits of enhanced security, though upkeep and maintenance sometimes costly. For businesses with a high level of IT resources or a dependable IT provider, private clouds can be extremely beneficial because of their combination of accessibility and enhanced security.

What is right for your business?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when considering cloud deployment vs. on-premise deployment. In general, businesses with security concerns or those complying with strict information security regulations should probably use caution with how they use the cloud. For smaller businesses, start-ups and organizations lacking in technological resources, an all-in-the-cloud-deployment approach might be the easiest, most cost effective, way to hit the ground running with a new initiative or process enhancement.

To assess your systems and understand what the best options might be for your organization, contact Centrality. We would be happy to direct you towards the solution that fits best with your unique business situation.