Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Deciding between on-premises and cloud storage? Consider the pros and cons

Small businesses trying to decide between on-premises and the cloud can get the best of both worlds with hybrid cloud solutions.

HPE small biz-hybrid cloud-blog.jpgHybrid c;loud—the strategy of leveraging both on-premises and cloud storage and processing—has been a boon to small businesses. Companies can get the same business benefits as big enterprises at a reasonable investment in equipment and personnel, all while maintaining the security and control they need.

The ability to host some data and computing on cloud platforms also gives you new tools. For example, you can connect to fully implemented deployments of common business applications on platforms like Office 365 or Google Docs. Accounting could be delivered from a different cloud platform. And operations and production might use applications on an in-house server while backing data up to a third cloud service like Microsoft Azure.

Such versatility was impossible in the past. But with these new options come new questions:

How do you choose where to store different types of data and run different applications?

And how do you connect your employees, customers, and business partners to the resources they need across the data center and the cloud?

Your business comes first

To answer these questions, it's important to take the time to profile your own needs, uses, and requirements. Consider working with a trusted technical advisor to get a more objective, outsider's view of your organization.

The specific combination of on-premises and cloud storage you choose should be based on the specifics of your business. Maybe it's growing quickly and in need of fast and economical ways to scale operations accordingly. Or perhaps it's in a highly regulated industry like healthcare or finance, where control over the integrity and privacy of data is mandated by legislation. Perhaps there are production requirements that necessitate immediate, uninterrupted access to specific applications or data.

The pros and cons of cloud computing

Once you've assessed your business need, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of cloud and on-premises storage and computing can help you make your final decisions.

Cloud computing has some clear advantages for small businesses. First, it's easy to use. Company employees simply log onto a website to access applications and computing resources, and you can scale use at any time by simply adding or dropping accounts and capacity.

Cloud systems also typically provide disaster tolerance through a combination of location, redundant capacity, and continuity plans. If you face a flood in Iowa, for example, you could rest assured that your applications and data would stay safe in a cloud facility in Arizona.

However, there are some downsides to using the cloud. One is hidden costs, including charges to transfer data to other platforms or back to your data center; such transfers can be costly not only in money but also in time, especially if they involve a large amount of data. A cloud often effectively locks you into one provider because it's difficult and expensive to move from one platform to another.

Additionally, if the cloud provider were to experience a security breach, you would have no control over the situation. And the distance between your office and the cloud that insulates your operations from a local disaster also makes everything run slower. That may not be a problem for a word processor, but it might be an issue during a busy sales period when a cloud-based ordering system faces peak demand. The speed of your own internet connection is another constraint on performance that needs to be considered.

The pros and cons of on-premises computing

Running applications and storage at your location has its own strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side, on-premises computing offers the fastest performance possible. You also retain direct control of the environment—you can do everything yourself without reaching out to an intermediary or waiting in line behind the vendor's other customers. Maintenance is faster, and direct access to the system can make some things easier.

Of course, on-premises computing has its own costs. For one thing, you'll need more highly skilled staff members for a larger on-premises deployment. There are also hardware startup costs and expenses for upgrades and maintenance that need to be considered, though some of these costs can be addressed with financing as a variable expense. You'll also need to create your own disaster contingency plans.

In addition, an on-premises deployment allows for less flexibility. If the number of visitors to your website were to suddenly rise exponentially, for example, scaling to meet that demand would be a complicated and time-consuming task.

Make hybrid cloud work for your business

Because hybrid cloud is a mix of on-premises and cloud, you can assign the most appropriate parts of your computing environment to each. Run what needs the most control and speed on your on-premises system, but push more flexible and tolerant systems onto the cloud.

For data, it helps to use a two-part classification. It's generally best to store on-premises any highly sensitive data such as product inventory and records of current customers. (You'll still want to do backups both at your location and to the cloud, so there will always be a copy in case of disaster.) Meanwhile, data that is more historical or less sensitive can be kept in the cloud.

Once you decide to pursue a hybrid environment, you'll need to integrate your on-premises and cloud data with the right infrastructure. One approach is to use an HPE technology platform strategy such as a combination of HPE ProLiant servers, HPE storage, and HPE Aruba networking. This approach gives you control, security, simplicity, and affordability, as well as the ability to integrate with cloud services like Microsoft Azure. Plus, individual managed services from different vendors are as available as an internet connection.

HPE has long been a trusted advisor to many companies of every size, and its personnel understands the unique problems and concerns of small businesses. The large HPE network of channel partners provides expertise when and, importantly, where you need it.

Both the cloud and your on-premises data center have their advantages—the trick is to know when to use each. Consider their strengths and weaknesses in the context of your business to create a hybrid environment that will ensure business success.

Learn more about HPE Small Business Solutions.

Discover affordable IT solutions for your small businessSMB for Dummies.jpg

Ready to take the next step? Check out the SMB Hybrid IT for Dummies Guide. Because there are no “dumb” questions!

Or are you ready to purchase? Visit the HPE Store.


Meet Servers: The Right Compute blogger Brian Mulvey, journalist.

Brian Mulvey is a journalist who has written about technology, business, and their intersection for years. He has frequently covered small businesses and enterprises, IT infrastructure, and cybersecurity, all in the context of real-world commerce.

Server Experts
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

0 Kudos
About the Author


Our team of Hewlett Packard Enterprise server experts helps you to dive deep into relevant infrastructure topics.