How to Decide between Cloud and On-Premises Networks

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Going the cloud way is the “in” thing these days, with every company vying for a slice of the cloud pie. However, many companies are jumping to the cloud without scrutinizing their real needs or the risks involved in cloud computing. Due to security and data protection concerns, a few others are wary and sticking to their on-premises models. Every business is bound to have a different data treatment need, and it is up to the CIO to find the right balance between the cloud and on-premises environment.

The growing data deluge is forcing companies to adopt new models for optimizing business intelligence, of which cloud is at the cutting edge. Managing these volumes and complexity of data is not easy with on-premises applications. At the same time, many businesses are wary of transitioning business-critical applications to the cloud, on account of security concerns. The next-best option in such scenarios is to turn to a hybrid of on-premises and cloud-based applications and infrastructure to suit the business needs.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Segregate applications by need of transition: Organizations can begin by segregating their cloud-friendly applications from the ones suited for on-premise. For example, Cordell Schachter, CTO of New York City’s Department of Transportation, has flagged off certain applications like emergency services and email as non-cloud, since these need to be frequently accessed with no time lags. Similarly, Los Angeles administration has earmarked some of the applications as “too critical for the cloud”; these include police operations, traffic control, and wastewater management. The idea is to know which ones must be cloud-friendly and which are better to retain on-premises.
  • Treat the cloud as an emergency backup mechanism: Another application where the cloud is necessary is as a backup for physical on-premise servers. If anything were to go wrong at an on-premise location, such as a fire or flood, the cloud can serve as a cost-effective business continuity tool. Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as Microsoft Azure provide a number of disaster recovery use cases.
  • Assess the security measures: The Computerworld’s Forecast survey for 2017 revealed that 21% of the respondents had no plans to move to the cloud. This is on account of the security concerns abounding in the cloud. Many of these players rely on strong virtual private networks and remote access systems with the right encryption channels.
  • Attain the right mix: The public cloud is gaining much traction, while at the same time legacy systems cannot be discarded altogether. As a result, companies continue to struggle with running cloud alongside legacy infrastructure and systems. It is important for companies to evaluate the performance gains from transitioning to the cloud, vis-à-vis their current performance metrics in the on-premises environment. A half-baked approach with one application in the cloud and other related ones on-premises may lead to performance malfunctions. Some interlinked and interdependent systems may perform well only when all are operating in the cloud.

Whether organizations opt for the cloud or on-premises, and to what extent, is intricately woven into the business and operating tech-model. CIOs must first aim to understand why they wish to transition to the cloud, and then decide on the mix.