Deciding on a Cloud or On-premises solution may not be the correct choice.

Cloud vs. on-premises: Finding the right balance

So let me just stop you right here for a moment. If you though, reading the title, “Yeah, which is the right choice?” You have been misled. Where your hardware sits does not make your system a Cloud, despite the fact that many people talk about the cloud vs on-prem dichotomy. You can have a Cloud on-premises or off.

As an educator in a field where understanding “the Cloud” is foundational, it’s just one of those not-so-fine points that just get to me. If you subscribe to the NIST model (NIST SP 800-145, The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing), where your hardware sits – on-premises or off – has nothing to do with cloud or not-cloud because access is mediated by your ability to connect via a network. What people are really seem focused on in this (false) on-premises vs Cloud distinction is who manages your hardware, and to some extent, how much control over the data your system serves have you relinquished. Really it is (or should be) a private (possibly on-premises) cloud versus public cloud discussion or a cloud verus not-cloud discussion.

Some of this discussion continues to be fed by the generally incorrect assumption that moving your system to the Cloud will save you money. Many users of Public Cloud have seen costs increase as users fail to delete public cloud infrastructure that is idle, but still being rented. In other cases the costs of moving data to and from Public Cloud systems incur greater than expected costs. We’ve explored the potential cost/benefit relationship here: Public vs Private Cloud: the rent or buy question. The where the break-even point lies (and who wins out) may surprise you.

But really it is worth noting that while there are some resource management wins from Cloud Computing, the real benefits come from increased agility and faster time to market. It is the on-demand, self-service model of resource access that real provides the greatest benefit to cloud users. When developers can access resources needed to develop and test software at scale, development is accelerated and final products are more robust. When clients and customers have self-service access to tools and products, focus can be shifted to adding value rather than provisioning users.

But don’t just take my word for it. If you’d like Robert Starmer, our CTO’s, take on whether a Public or Private cloud solution is the right solution, check out this VLOG post on why Public Cloud is not the answer. If the NIST Model is new to you, we have a free micro-class that breaks it down and goes into what the actual value of Cloud is to sysadmins, developers and businesses in general: CCB-050 Introduction to Cloud Computing.

John Starmer,
Director of Education