Cloud vs. Data Center: Important Things to Know

By Steve Anderson, Contributing Writer  |  May 18, 2017

It would be easy to look at the landscape and say that everyone needs to be in cloud computing right now, but there are some important things to know about the cloud before making so big a decision. In fact, there are even some good reasons to maintain a data center on the premises, though these are highly dependent on situation. With so much potential at stake, and so many different situations to fit, it's important to know just what goes into the decision between cloud and data center operations.

First, it's worth knowing that, for many firms, the default has switched to cloud. Where formerly, the move to cloud had to be justified, many have changed to the point where the move to remain on-premise must be justified. The impressive cost savings and improving security of cloud has made it the new go-to option. 

Second, most apps these days start in the cloud. Trying to justify on-premise operation of customer relationship management tools, email operations, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) is therefore a lot more difficult. This changes somewhat when it comes to custom applications or moving legacy applications around, but most still start in the cloud.

Third, it's not all about cost anymore. While cloud is still pretty much the winner when it comes to costs, there's a lot more than costs to recommend cloud these days. The advances in architecture, for example, are mainly taking place in cloud-based operations.

While cloud is still a winner when it comes to cost—a recurring monthly bill versus an occasional massive bill—it's not just the costs that's making cloud attractive. Cloud service providers have to continually upgrade systems lest they fall behind other cloud service providers and lose ground in the market. This means, cloud services are often powered by the very latest in infrastructure technology out of sheer necessity. Plus, there's value in the response time; many cloud services come with service level agreements (SLAs) that require a certain amount of uptime. That's valuable to businesses that need services on at all times.

About the only real reason to keep a system on-premise anymore is the control factor. With on-premise systems, users control how often things are upgraded and to what, as well as how rapidly things are fixed. That kind of control often serves as peace of mind for users, and peace of mind has value too.

Still, regardless of the ultimate outcome, there are a lot of things to keep in mind in the cloud vs. on-premise argument. It's one that never really has a right answer, more a right one for an individual.

Edited by Alicia Young
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