The days when every service was managed from a single server or location are long gone. When organizations build software and services, they have a variety of options depending on their budget, infrastructure, and security needs. Now teams can build software across a broad network of machines and software managed either by their own staff or external services.
What tools to use is a complex question and there is no one-size-fits-all for every organization.
Today, we’ve put together some analysis of the various pros and cons of some common cloud and on-premise options. Understanding the options for your team can help you make the right choice and save money and time in the long term.
With on-premise software, the software is usually located and operated within the organization's computing hardware. On-premise deployments are set up and maintained by the organization on its own network.
Security: By keeping everything in-house and cutting exposure to the outside world, organizations can retain all their data. Which is especially important if they are in a regulated industry. Teams can implement their own security policies to remain compliant and keep their data protected. And on-premise deployment allows them to establish a perimeter, which is inherently more secure than cloud hosting
User Control: In a more regulated industry, it’s important to maintain greater control of the environment and assets. Ideal for organizations that want to keep full control of their uptime, infrastructure, and prefer to maintain the software themselves.
Initial Cost: Depending on the size of deployment, an on-premise solution can be cheaper than a private cloud solution, especially in the short term.
If on-premise is already in use: While cloud is the most sleek and modern deployment model, it can actually cause problems if a company is already hosting a variety of other software on-premise and then choose to host one tool in the cloud. Organizations with a robust DevOps infrastructure that are used to deploying in-house will find it easier to continue adding on-premise solutions. Deploying to the cloud carries benefits but isn't a cure-all. It requires careful consideration for each unique environment.
Human Capital Requirements: On-premise solutions require dedicated IT support year-round to ensure the software is running properly.
Mobility: Unlike cloud-hosting, an on-premise deployment is not travel friendly - if members of the team are expected to be out-of-the-office or out of the approved field of use, an on-premise system may not be flexible enough to continue working while on the go.
Hidden Spend: Sometimes there can be hidden expenses associated with an on-premise solution. Anything from server space, to upgrades, maintenance, patches, and even natural disasters. This can end up costing an organization in labor and budget.
Infrastructure and Maintenance: From server space, deployment, downtimes, backups, and updates, an on-premise solution requires a lot of upkeep on the organization's end to keep it running like a well-oiled machine.
Scalability: On-premise means the need to know the approximate size and provisioning needs of an operation. This is where it pays off to be forward-thinking and estimate a business's potential growth far into the future. An on-premise system cannot scale as quickly and easily as a cloud solution, which has the potential to hinder a team’s speed of growth. Choosing on-premise means knowing the organization's needs before it’s too late.
Cloud deployments consist of a remote network of servers that are connected together and used to store, process, and manage data remotely. Unlike an on-premise or disconnected deployment, these are often managed by a third party.
Cost savings: Because cloud providers typically offer a pay-as-you-scale model, organizations can save money on hardware, maintenance, and other upfront costs.
Scalability: Cloud systems are highly scalable, which means that organizations can easily increase or decrease their usage as needed. This can be especially useful for those that experience fluctuating demand for their services.
Accessibility: With a cloud system, users can access their data and applications from any device with an internet connection. This can be especially useful for remote teams or organizations with employees in different locations.
Reliability: Cloud providers typically have robust infrastructure and backup systems in place to ensure that their services are always available. This can provide peace of mind for organizations that rely on their systems to run their business.
Security: Many cloud providers offer advanced security measures to protect their customers' data, which can be more secure than maintaining these measures on-premises. If it’s not a highly regulated industry, cloud solutions are plenty secure for the majority of teams.
Externally Managed: Because cloud providers are responsible for maintaining and updating their systems, organizations that use the cloud can take advantage of new features and innovations without having to invest time or resources. Cloud allows teams to put more dollars and hours towards innovation.
Limited control: When multiple customers share the same instance of the software, there is often less control over it. This lessens the room for customization that’s found in a single-tenant system. This can be a problem for organizations with very specific requirements or unique needs.
Shared resources: In a multi-tenant system, the resources of the software (such as processing power, memory, and storage) are shared among all of the customers. This means that if one customer experiences a high level of usage, it could potentially impact the performance of the software for other customers.
Security concerns: Some organizations may have concerns about the security of a multi-tenant system, as they are sharing the same instance of the software with other customers. While a security breach is unlikely, it is still less secure than an on-premise or disconnected deployment. Choosing the right provider and service can ensure a more secure cloud.
Misconfiguration - Just as with on-premise service, effective policy and administration is important. However, because of the ease of access and high availability, mistakes in the cloud can quickly spiral into disasters. After all, turning on sharing for a file or server enables it for the whole world.
Integration - Although this is constantly improving, cloud services often don’t have the same connections that on-premise servers have. This is especially true for some compliance standards and legacy systems.
Public cloud vs. private cloud
Cloud computing is the current wave of software delivery, and many services today are offered through varying cloud service models. One of the primary divisions is whether an organization draws from a collective resource pool or gets a specific service commitment (private vs. public).
In a private cloud service model, also known as a single-tenant cloud service, each customer has their own dedicated instance of the software, This means the customer has complete control over their instance of the software, including the ability to customize it to their specific needs and requirements.
On the other hand, in a public cloud service model, businesses deliver a multi-tenant cloud service where multiple customers share the same instance of the software. You may see this as SaaS, Software as a Service. This means that the software provider is responsible for maintaining and managing the software, which can be more efficient and cost-effective for the customers.
However, it also means that the customers do not have as much control over the software and may not be able to customize it as much as they would in a single-tenant system. There are some concerns that a multi-tenant solution is less secure; if customers choose a multi-tenant solution from an organization with good security policies, it can be just as secure as a single-tenant deployment.
Overall, the choice between single and multi-tenant cloud software options depends on the specific needs and priorities of the customer:
- Private Cloud: Single-tenant systems may be more suitable for organizations with very specific requirements or strict security needs.
- Public Cloud: Multi-tenant systems may be a better fit for organizations that want a more cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.
A disconnected deployment is exactly what it sounds like. These on-premise deployments are cut off from the public internet for security and compliance reasons.
These are also referred to as “air gapped,” meaning a clear physical separation to create a private network. This isolation may avoid connections even from networks within the same organization.
Security: Disconnected environments are hands down the most secure deployment model. In a highly regulated industry, organizations can benefit from the iron walls a disconnected deployment has around data or intellectual property. This helps address both known attacks and theoretical threats.
Compliance Requirements: Disconnected deployments are the only model compatible with air-gapped developer environments.
Cost: A disconnected solution will cost teams the most. Due to the additional infrastructure resources required, disconnected deployments are not the most cost-effective.
Data Lag: While any disconnected deployments worth their salt will ensure daily data updates, some updates may take longer. For the majority of teams, this is not a major concern, but if real-time data is a priority for an organization, disconnected deployments may be too slow for their needs.
Infrastructure and Maintenance: Ensure the right infrastructure is in place before buying a disconnected solution. From server space to compute and administrative resources, there is an additional cost to running a disconnected deployment.
What solution is right for me?
No deployment model is perfect, and all come with their challenges. An organization needs to know which capabilities will best suit its specific needs. A general understanding of which direction to proceed can save time and research.
To sum up what we’ve discussed so far:
- On-Premise: If user control and security are top priorities and an organization doesn’t mind maintaining software in-house, an on-premise solution is probably the best fit.
- Disconnected: Organizations with a mandate to run their DevSecOps in an air-gapped environment. This is typically found in government or highly security-conscious commercial organizations.
- Cloud: Organizations who don’t want the overhead of maintaining software and need to scale quickly across many distributed teams may prefer this option. If an org wants an easy plug-and-play solution ensuring quick company-wide adoption, cloud may provide the most benefits. Private Cloud carries security advantages, while Public Cloud offerings are more cost-effective.
More questions about deployment models? We’re always happy to chat. Schedule a demo with one of our experts to learn more.