June 30, 2021

The Cloud and On-Premises Debunked

Brian Gagnon

Everyone’s using the cloud right? Well, yes, but that’s only part of the story. Uprise CTO Brian Gagnon recently debunked cloud myths and spoke to trends that answer the burning question “to cloud or not to cloud...and how much?” The right solution depends on many factors.  

In a recent webinar, Brian outlined the distinctions between cloud vs. on-prem IT and shared how to determine what’s right for a business’ needs.  Here’s a breakdown of the webinar’s highlights. (You can also watch it here.)

Ultimately, companies are looking for the golden goose – asking for more capabilities and agility while also seeking a reduction in costs - but these things don’t always work well together. Typically, an increase in capabilities and agility will cost more. The question then becomes how to best balance the cost and capabilities in line with what your business needs to succeed today and as it grows and matures.  

For new businesses, the cloud is a great place to start reducing upfront capital cost and to rapidly scale. That said, there is a point in the growth curve where 100% cloud needs revisiting. For example, Dropbox and Netflix both exited the cloud relatively early because their storage costs skyrocketed.

Mature organizations should consider on-premises as an asset and cloud as an addition to meet scale, continuity, and total cost requirements. Like physical goods, it might make sense to do fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to start, but as you get bigger, it will eventually come time to consider your own warehouse.

Let’s take a high-level look of the pros and cons of both the “old school” approach of on-premises and the “new kid” the cloud.


On-premises is a hardware-centric approach. Scaling relies on equipment, and more often than not the problem-solving does too. Have a problem? Throw more equipment at it. Backups and disaster recovery sites need to be maintained. Over-provisioning is commonplace to ensure sufficient capacity exists when needed. Networking and security are typically complex, and the software stack is difficult to maintain. Cost containment typically happens through virtualization.  

The advantage of on-premises is that once an organization is sizable enough, the cost of a data center could be less than it would if the same thing were done in the cloud – provided data durability and availability requirements are met. Security, if done right, can be less complex for the company, and they maintain complete control over their information and infrastructure, which means cloud lock-in and policies do not affect them.

The Cloud

On the other hand, the cloud is immediately appealing because it’s fast to implement and has a low initial cost. It’s the go-to for new companies – and with good reason. The cloud has lowered the barrier to entry for new tech companies because of the aforementioned speed and cost, but prices are rising, and many businesses are questioning whether their cloud bill makes sense as they grow.  

Trust and control are also big considerations that many businesses are now weighing. Politics aside, take the example of Parler in this past year. AWS determined that Parler was in violation of their content policy and disabled their app’s hosting. Whether you think this was justified or not, it is clear that if Parler used an on-prem solution, they would have maintained control of their application.  

Finally, cloud lock-in is real. While Amazon, Microsoft, and Google will assure you they are not trying to lock you in, there are several features and functions (literally lambda functions) that can make a transient cloud strategy hard or impossible. Planning and understanding what entry and exit from a platform looks like is an important consideration any time a company evaluates new technology. Game-changing technology is ever-evolving, and companies want the flexibility to take advantage of new tech that helps support and grow their business.  

The winning solution for most companies is a thoughtful combination of both the cloud and on-prem that suits that company’s unique needs.

If you want to chat with us about a solution for your business, please reach out.

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