Online or on-premise?

Considering Cloud?

It is not always cut and dried that when considering cloud vs on-premise that there is a clear answer.

There are many reasons why there has not been a dash to the clouds since the rebranding of “outsourcing” to something more “PC”.

Fear remains the over arching principle upon which the doubters hang on to their precious racks, switches, cable ties and UPS setups.  Whilst, techno fever fuels some of those who rush to get online.

However, the reasons to be a doubter reduce with every year that cloud builds in momentum.


Choosing between cloud and on-premise

So how do you choose between on-premises or SaaS

Read through the marketing hype and assess what is promised over what is practical

Everyone has “the best, most secure, most scalable, most effective” etc but in reality you should be looking to see how the service model offered computes when you review what your priority is based on the above table.

Don’t forget to assess long term ownership over short term pricing but equally remember that technology is fast moving so capital investments such as new servers should not be seen as 5-8 yearly exercises unless you want to reduce net benefits from your core systems over time.

Don’t dismiss the need to manage backups, new patches, versions and fixes all of which can have dramatic soft impacts on your systems ownership.

Finally, remember that to have the hardware locally means you need to allocate a fair cost of the IT function to tin oversight. Another soft cost…

Don’t just plunge in, this is not a “gut” decision and you could feel the repercussions for a long time

Consider the stages of system development which you are going to impact when you embark on a cloud route.

Firstly, can you be sure that the partner is trustworthy and a good long term partner. Do they know and understand the broader requirement of actually delivering meaningful back office benefits? The trust factor is the largest influencer missed by many who are taken in by the cloud hype.

Secondly, as a partner they should have the ability to allow you to plan and execute a strategic shift in your business operational structures rather than require an “all or nothing” approach.

And finally, get evidence of a track record in customer service and project delivery just like you would from any on-premise partner.

Flexible, trustworthy and proven: not much to ask, is it?

It is never about cost alone

Often cost becomes the only factor for basing the cloud decision upon. Critical in the mix are security, control, compliance, customisation, scalability etc.

Subscription servicesc are a great budget enhancer but what happens if there is a problem? Make sure you have assessed how data loss, security breaches and system outages can be handled and/or protected against. What degree of openness is there for you to review and assess ongoing service levels? Look for published data which is available to customers such as logs, outages and breaches. Remember to make suitable comparisons to on-premise providers and compare apples with apples.

Have your needs understood, measured and build in some future proofing

One of the biggest follies is to rock up to a saas provider, sign up for the middle service (the “most popular” scam…) and find yourself in an expensive war or attrition because extra storage or compute power is actually so much more costly as an added extra.

You have to know your minimum server specifications for the software you are using, data you are storing or users you are planning.

If you don’t then it will be hard to assess a baseline for comparison. In almost every case when reviewing on-premise alone you will naturally include some  measure of over capacity. See that the saas options allow you to scale without penalty.

Can you try for free?

Best way oto check out the suitability for cloud as part of your strategy is to get on-board and try it. Be realistic though, a one user trial isn’t going to give you the feedback you need if you really needed 30-50 users on a system. Most saas applications give you free trial periods and if you talk with them they will generally work to give you a more realistic environment. Not always as true of the on-premise world.

Can you run on-line realistically

Some applications just don’t lend themselves to online and on-premise will always deliver a better outcome. Heavy graphics/CAD applications with large data files or intensive disk based data crunching software like Business Intelligence for example. Cloud is good for areas where you need to share information, centralise data gathering and allow collective recovery perhaps across multiple locations.

Understand that your strategy may not be a one shoe fits all.

Establish which relationships you are working with and who serves the food chain

Typical on-premise projects will involve more than one partner. The distinctions between them are usually quite obvious; software, hardware.

In the saas world there can be substantial blurring of the relationships and therefore an agreement on say data security with one might not relate in any way to the level of security being provided by another party to the mix.

Ask the right questions to get the right answers; plan for doomsday – what happens if a) there is no internet b) data or system corruption happens c) security is breached d) one partner goes bust

Above all be sure that in which ever scenario you choose to paint that at the very least you know where your data is located and how you can retrieve it, even if that means a third party backup. This is true of on-premise as well as cloud.