Cloud and On-Premises Difference: 5 Common Comparisons

Jennifer Deming Burnham

When considering the move to cloud, the perceived notion of giving up control of one’s data can be difficult for CIOs to accept. Before choosing the right deployment model for your company, take time to understand common assumptions (or shall we say myths?) behind preferences for on-premise versus cloud deployments, and compare the strengths of each model.

As an IT leader, choosing the right model for your company’s deployment of a data availability and governance solution is essential for your long-term business success. Obviously, that’s true from a financial standpoint; you want to make the most of your investment. You also want the deployment to be a huge success. That’s why before you make the call to stay on-premise, check these common assumptions (or shall we call them myths?) about on-premise deployments versus a public cloud deployment, and opinions can vary greatly across a range of viewpoints.

Among these assumptions:

  • A private cloud is more cost-effective than a public cloud option.
  • A private cloud gives us sufficient elasticity, better than public cloud options.
  • Private clouds are more flexible in serving our unique needs.
  • Private clouds are more secure and more compliant than the public cloud.
  • A private cloud has better disaster recovery (DR) and/or reliability than the public cloud.

Here’s the top five reasons why customers are choosing public cloud deployments:

1. Cost Effectiveness

Objection: A private cloud is more cost-effective than a public cloud option.

The debate is waged daily between operating expense (a.k.a. OPEX, the cloud’s approach) and capital expense (a.k.a. CAPEX, the on-premises approach). Cost or expenditure outlays can be capitalized (spread out over a period of time) or built into a specific time period’s profit/loss (the time period during which they were incurred).

Although there are trade-offs to each option, OPEX is increasingly favored by finance departments. In the age-old rent-versus-buy debate, the cloud is making rental very compelling. Cloud computing is much faster to deploy. Businesses have minimal project start-up costs, predictable ongoing operating expenses, and they pay only for the capacity they need right-now, with the ability to scale as their requirements change.

recent study conducted by Forrester Research investigated the cost avoidance savings for on-premises solutions by companies that had implemented inSync in the cloud. As Forrester reported, one global pharmaceutical firm estimated that inSync was 60% cheaper than the storage infrastructure it would have bought. The enterprise estimated that inSync saved at least $1.5 million, based on the organization’s estimate for the upfront costs to upgrade its legacy on-premise environment. If they had stuck with the on-premises environment, the enterprise also expected to incur additional staffing costs for three people to manage it.

2. Economies of Scale

Objection: A private cloud gives us sufficient elasticity, better than public cloud options.

No private cloud can compete on price with the likes of public cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Plus, the public providers are constantly investing in R&D that leads to technological innovations that directly impact their public cloud’s cost structures; it’s their rate of innovation and development where the true economies of scale reside.

The ability to scale on demand (in both storage and compute power) is one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing. When you need more resources, you get them immediately. When you don’t, you don’t pay for anything you don’t use. And you don’t have to install new hardware or infrastructure on the off-chance it’s needed, or for the worst-case scenario. This allows organizations to support business growth without expensive changes to existing IT systems.

In traditional on-premises deployments, often IT capacity decisions have to be made prior to deploying an application. IT managers must guesstimate the right balance between sitting on expensive idle resources and dealing with limited capacity (and whiny users) during heavy traffic spikes. With any on-premise solution, you pay for all of the servers and infrastructure you might need, even if your current need is lower. You might pay for capacity that never gets used. Whereas a cloud deployment allows a more granular approach.

One of the best features of cloud computing is that you use what you need — whenever you need it. That gives you more control, not less. In the cloud, scalability and elasticity provide opportunity for savings and for improved ROI.AWS uses the term elastic to describe the way computing resources stretch to accommodate demand for projects with variable consumption rates or with short lifetimes.

In short: Instead of acquiring hardware, setting it up, and maintaining it in order to allocate resources to your applications, Druva inSync deployed in the cloud allows users to scale on demand to suit your needs.

3. Business Speed and Flexibility

Objection: Private clouds are more flexible in serving our unique needs.

Ofttimes, it’s easier to let everything continue “as is” in the data center with little change to the IT architecture. But, as the business grows and changes (whose doesn’t?), the data center has to grow and change, too. There’s no longer a possibility of doing things the “old way that always worked,” no matter how tech- or business-process-nostalgic we are.

If the current facility becomes a constraint, then it has to be replaced — never the best option under any financial conditions. Therefore, something else has to provide the flexibility that IT and the business demand. Most of the time, the cloud is the best way to respond to that change, since it gives you more control over the data, and how it’s stored, accessed, and safeguarded.

In a cloud computing environment, new IT resources are only ever a click away, which means you reduce the time it takes to make resources available. Instead of asking IT and developers to work together to provision servers, a process that can take weeks, resources are available in just minutes. This is beyond, “the organization has control” but rather an advantage for the human beings who aim to further the company’s goals: “Let me just get my job done, so the right data gets in the right hands, soonest!”

4. Security & Compliance

Objection: Private clouds are more secure and more compliant than the public cloud.

The biggest security risk in any infrastructure is overlooking serious security flaws because of time, expertise, and resources (or the lack thereof). It’s understandable — and appropriate — for IT managers to be concerned about access to cloud data, and to pay attention to security vulnerabilities. The reality is that a well-staffed cloud provider, with highly-trained staff who are dealing with security every day, may be better equipped to reduce the chances of security breaches occurring, compared to an overworked and under-resourced corporate IT department.

Really, you could spend less time conducting security reviews on infrastructure. Mature cloud providers have teams of people who focus on security, relying on industry standard best practices to ensure you’re compliant. For example, AWS’ data centers feature numerous industry certifications, including SOC1 (Covers SAS-70 Type II, SSAE-16) and ISO-27001 as well as use state-of-the art electronic surveillance, multi-factor access control systems, and 24×7 physical security guards. Those Amazon data centers’ environmental systems minimize the impact of disruptions to operations, backed up by multiple geographic regions that are equipped to cope with failures such as natural disasters, system failures, or zombies. (Well, perhaps not the zombies.)

In fact, security and compliance are why some of our most highly regulated customers such as Pfizer and Shire, have decided to deploy inSync in a cloud environment rather than on-premises.  

5. Disaster Recovery & Reliability

Objection: A private cloud has better disaster recovery and reliability than the public cloud.

Planning for business continuity in the event of a power outage, fire, flood, zombie apocalypse, or other disaster is expensive and challenging. It requires investments in redundant infrastructure and staff across multiple data centers, costly storage replication solutions, and is typically reserved for larger enterprise that can afford investing in disaster recovery (DR).

In an inSync cloud deployment, we achieve availability by replication of your data in different AWS availability zones (distinct regions engineered to be insulated from one another) to ensure swift recovery in case of disaster. The service runs within Amazon’s proven network infrastructure and data centers designed to 99.99999% durability (that’s measured in seconds of downtime per year) and a commitment (backed by a service level agreement, SLA) of 99.5% availability for each Amazon region.


While the reasons for choosing a cloud deployment over a on-premise deployment are pretty clear, the perceived notion of giving up control of one’s data can be difficult for CIOs to accept. But with a reliable cloud service provider (guaranteed by rock-solid SLAs), companies have more control, not less. Despite these commonly held viewpoints, we at Druva have found that a public cloud deployment makes sense for most inSync users.

Delegating responsibility to a cloud service provider means that someone is motivated to ensure that everything is working properly. If it doesn’t give the best, most flexible, most secure service, the provider doesn’t stay in business. As the role of the CIO evolves to become more of a business enabler at the end of the day, CIOs need to remind themselves it’s not what’s good for IT that matters: It’s what’s good for their business and users.