For modern businesses, the database serves as the core of their tech stack and organization. Hence, selecting the right database software approach is crucial. The choice between on premises and cloud services is a critical decision that can affect agility, reliability, flexibility and cost-efficiency.
As companies strive to stay competitive, many have transitioned from legacy on-premises technology to embrace cloud databases, which have emerged as the future of IT infrastructure. However, the choice between on-premises and cloud-based solutions should not be solely influenced by trends, but rather by a comprehensive understanding of each organization’s specific requirements and benchmarks.
While on-premises solutions have long been dominant, cloud services have lured businesses away from traditional approaches. The notion of a “cloud first” or “cloud only” future is not entirely straightforward and is likely to remain complex for some time. There are a few major key differentiators between on-premises and cloud-based solutions, making it a critical decision for a company. These differentiators include:
With a public cloud provider, the deployment process is relatively straightforward. Businesses can quickly get up and running as the cloud-service provider handles hosting and provides access to their resources. However, businesses relinquish the responsibility of building, deploying and maintaining their own cloud servers. On the other hand, an on-premises approach requires the in-house IT team to take full ownership of deployment, and maintaining every element of the database becomes the organization’s responsibility, including addressing any physical server issues that may arise.
The level of control offered by on-premises database solutions is a compelling reason for some businesses to retain this approach. Complete ownership of servers translates to full control over all stored data, making it particularly valuable for enterprises operating in highly regulated industries. In contrast, cloud storage entails relinquishing some control by entrusting the database architecture to a commercial provider. This may result in limitations on tool integration and expansion of the database management system infrastructure. However, it is important to note that the “managed” approach provided by cloud-service providers is not uniform. By carefully evaluating different cloud data-storage options, businesses can find a solution that aligns with their specific requirements.
Security and Compliance
Control is closely linked to security and compliance considerations. On-premises databases are favored by highly regulated enterprises, such as government agencies or health-care providers, due to the ability to manage all data in-house, providing greater protection against security risks. Similarly, having full control over data makes compliance adherence easier for organizations governed by stringent regulations.
Regardless, on-premises database management requires organizations to assume complete responsibility for addressing breaches and outages without the immediate support offered by cloud providers. Cloud solutions, when chosen wisely, can provide robust security measures and dynamic compliance capabilities. It is crucial to carefully evaluate different cloud providers and their offerings to ensure that security and compliance requirements are met effectively.
Cost is a pivotal aspect where the cloud has dominated conversations. Cloud enthusiasts often highlight the pay-as-you-go model, eliminating the need to budget for infrastructure maintenance and resource allocation. While the cloud can offer potential cost savings, accurately estimating the costs of a cloud database can be more complex than initially perceived. The cloud is not necessarily cheaper overall, but it offers a different expense structure.
The decision between on-premises and cloud-based database solutions is a complex one that requires careful consideration of deployment, control, security, compliance and cost factors. While the cloud offers agility, scalability and cost-efficiency, on-premises solutions provide organizations with full control and ownership of their data.
Highly regulated industries often prefer on-premises solutions due to security and compliance concerns, but cloud providers have made significant strides in addressing these issues.
Cost considerations also play a crucial role, with the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model offering potential savings but requiring accurate cost estimation. Additionally, the hybrid cloud approach has gained traction, offering a blend of public and private cloud databases for enhanced flexibility. Ultimately, organizations must assess their specific needs and priorities to determine the best database strategy for their business.