Cloud vs on-prem is no longer an either/or scenario

September 28, 2019

Cloud computing has become a standard in the industry with a wide range of solutions now being offered by large cash cows like AWS and Azure and many other smaller startup companies. However, recent data seems to indicate that some CIOs are having buyer's remorse. A survey by Nutanix, a cloud software company, found that a number of companies were migrating away from cloud back to on-premises solutions. One of the biggest reasons for this was that the long-term costs of operating a purely cloud environment were actually more expensive than an on-premises environment, even with the discounts that were offered by the cloud vendor.

This situation is not a huge surprise to me because on-premises hardware is a one-time capital expense (aside from support and utility costs) while cloud solutions require ongoing costs to maintain the subscription. Another potential difficulty with cloud arises when companies wish to move that data away from one vendor to another. Depending on the cloud vendor, it may be difficult to extract that data from the cloud, particularly if the product is a SaaS solution containing a large amount of company data.

While the cloud discussion has typically pitted on-premises hardware against cloud offerings, I personally believe that the hybrid model, the utilization of both cloud and on-premises solutions, is the best way forward. The Nutanix survey also revealed that a large majority of companies actually prefer this approach as well. A hybrid model allows cloud and on-premises hardware to do what they are best at, and this results in reliable IT services for the company without placing unnecessary burden on IT administrators. For example, it may make more sense to keep email in Office 365 so that administrators would not have to host and manage an Exchange server onsite. On the other hand, large software applications which require multiple server instances and large storage pools might be cheaper to run on premises in virtual servers or a Docker container.

The 2020's is going to be the decade of the cloud, and it will be very exciting to see how the IT industry changes to utilize all the additional tools we have at our disposal. One thing is certain, it will no longer be an either/or consideration when discussing cloud vs. on-prem solutions.