August 26, 2018

Onsite Versus Cloud-Based Computing

In our previous blog we referred to cloud-based computing. LBT Computer Services Ltd, IT consultancy specialists assist a wide range of organisations with evaluating onsite versus cloud-based computing, so we thought we would compare the key advantages and disadvantages.

Cloud-Based Computing

Firstly, we should explain that cloud-based computing enables businesses to utilise clusters of distributed computers that provide on-demand resources and services, usually over the Internet. This can provide any size company with the scale and reliability of a data centre and much more flexible IT capacity. Increasingly companies are scaling back use of onsite company servers and moving to public and private cloud-based systems.

Cloud-based technology can be based upon Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and/or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). LBT assists companies by forming IT strategies that can include detail on cloud-based computing and cloud-based software, all tailored to the company’s requirements.

Growth of Cloud-Based Computing

The growth in confidence of embracing and changing, in part or wholly, to cloud-based computing and software is being well publicised. IDC states that 50% of IT spending is expected to be cloud-based during 2018, which could equate to 60% of all IT infrastructure and 60-70% of software, services and technology expenditure by 2020[1].

Given the cloud choice available, 96% of respondents to RightScale’s State of the Cloud Survey 2018 are now using one or more cloud[2].

Advantages of Cloud-Based Computing versus onsite

There are many advantages that companies can gain through embracing cloud-based computing and these are the main ones.

  1. Cloud-based computing uses technology provided by a host company (or host companies) whose business and purpose it is to manage, update, upgrade and maintain cloud-based infrastructure, platforms and/or software so that they are operational and available 24/7 and reliable. Cloud providers with high uptime will normally promote their uptime level, with some achieving 99.99%.
  2. There will be inbuilt security that will be actively monitored and upgraded, which the host company is responsible for.
  3. All staff can access the company’s system, software, data and documents when working in any location at any time. This also enables and facilitates greater collaboration, which can include giving staff of projects and/or partner organisations access to sharing and jointly working on documents simultaneously or connecting processes between their organisations.
  4. Everyone can share information, documents, plans and work in progress and the company can manage and monitor version control, data storage and use.
  5. The company is paying for flexible cloud capacity as it is utilised, with monthly payments rather than incurring capital investment and then upgrade costs.
  6. Sharing such systems reduces environmental impact as fewer companies buy, recycle or scrap large-scale equipment.

In summary, these advantages together can create a range of benefits for your company:

  • Quicker time to market for products or services
  • Enhanced process efficiency
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Reduced IT spending
  • Reduced IT maintenance costs
  • Greater company growth.

Disadvantages of Cloud-Based Computing versus onsite

Companies considering a partial and certainly a complete transfer from onsite to cloud-based computing need to seriously consider the risks and disadvantages when evaluating their options.

Everyone in an organisation can only access cloud based systems with internet access so any slowdown or outages will impact staff productivity and efficiency. Outages can also cause further disruption to business and dramatically impact upon sales, plus product and service delivery.

Cloud-based systems can be attacked and hacked so breaches are possible, including those involving very sensitive data. The consequences can include loss and/or anxiety for staff or customers and damage to company reputation. It also means that if all of a company’s data, documents, information and transaction processes are cloud-based it could potentially all be sabotaged, lost or stolen at once.

It is important that if a company uses a variety of platforms that anyone using the company’s systems can easily move between these. However, companies also need to ensure that permission levels are clearly defined and access is managed to and within clouds and is in accordance with individuals’ roles and responsibilities.

Companies need to ensure that they can, and do, scale down cloud capacity as well as up, when they need to. This way the company is always paying an appropriate amount for usage.

Conclusion: Onsite versus Cloud-Based Computing

The advantages of moving to partial or total cloud-based computing depends on many factors such as the size and type of your business, your products or services and your market sector.

LBT offers strategic IT consultancy where we can undertake an audit and review of your business. This then informs an IT strategy that identifies a full solution, which will often be a combination of cloud-based and/or onsite hardware that aims to provide you with the most advantages.

For many businesses a hybrid model of the two can be most efficient and provide excellent value for money. LBT clients are increasingly implementing new cloud-based technologies after they have a proven track record while keeping some hardware onsite as back-up or for key processes. LBT reviews these arrangements with clients periodically, to ensure you are aware of and utilising the best hardware and software solutions that become available.

Essentially, the cloud offers businesses some great opportunities and LBT is at the forefront of helping customers to implement cloud-based solutions when appropriate but it is not always necessary or optimal to put everything into the cloud straight away, even though this is such an emerging trend.

If you are thinking of investing in cloud-based technologies or new onsite hardware and would like a free initial consultation, please contact us here