As cloud computing continues to grow in popularity, more organizations will look to migrate their on-premise infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or other third-party cloud vendors.
Cloud computing and virtual machines offer multiple advantages over on-prem hosting, but switching your operations to a virtual setup requires planning and research. If you’re considering cloud computing, this article will explain what you need to know to get started.
Why cloud computing?
Cloud computing offers several benefits over traditional on-premise hosting:
- Lower costs: You’ll only pay for what you use. On-prem hosting requires substantial costs for resources that you might never make full use of.
- More agility: You can create or remove cloud resources quickly with a few mouse clicks. An on-prem setup requires you to design, order, install, and maintain hardware.
- Better automation support: With the cloud, you can employ Infrastructure as Code (IaC) automation that allows you to manage your infrastructure through code, rather than the physical and frequently manual configuration of on-premise hosting.
- Faster updates and better security: Your cloud vendor will use dedicated teams to maintain your resources 24/7 and upgrade them as needed. With on-prem hosting, you’ll need to take care of maintenance and upgrades yourself.
On-prem vs cloud
There are some key similarities and differences between cloud and on-prem infrastructure. Here’s what each model offers:
Similarities of on-prem and the cloud
- Deployment support: There are no restrictions on the type of application you can deploy on either model, as long as your app is functional and has the needed dependencies and frameworks installed.
- DevOps practices: Both cloud and on-premise models support DevOps and automation practices. Your CI/CD pipelines can run on both types of hosting. One commonly used code repository is GitHub, which is considered the “heart” of DevOps practices whether you use it on-premise or on the cloud. On-premise allows you to apply DevOps principles to the applications. The cloud provides more flexibility if you want to apply DevOps principles to the infrastructure.
- Monitoring: For either hosting model, you’ll need to use monitoring and logging tools. Some cloud and on-premise platforms offer their own monitoring tools.
Differences between on-prem and the cloud
- Flexibility: Cloud computing offers more flexibility than the standard on-prem setup. Cloud resources can be infrastructure resources (virtual machines, storage desks, or firewalls), platform resources (.NET/Java hosting environment), or even serverless functions. On-prem is less flexible since it offers fewer resources.
- Responsibility: In cloud computing, the application owner and the cloud vendor take responsibility for the infrastructure through a shared responsibility model. In an on-premise model, the application owner takes responsibility for the entire infrastructure, including physical space, electricity, cooling, networking, storage, OS updates, and upgrades. One example is using an on-prem GitHub setup or a cloud-based one. In the on-prem version, you’d be responsible for end-to-end GitHub instance updates, security upgrades, and physical hosting. In the cloud-based version, you’d leave that responsibility to the GitHub vendor.
- Pricing model: Cloud computing vendors charge using a pay-as-you-go subscription model, and you’ll only pay for what you use. For an on-prem model, you’ll pay upfront for the entire hardware and software infrastructure, along with recurring costs such as electricity, software licenses, and internet access.
- Management tools: Cloud vendors provide specific tools that you can use to manage your cloud resources, such as web portals, APIs, or command-line interfaces. On-premise infrastructure management requires a combination of physical tools (racks, servers) and software.
- Infrastructure automation: Cloud computing enables you to quickly create and tear down your infrastructure through tools such as Terraform. Automating infrastructure is much trickier with on-prem hosting, and it frequently requires your IT team to spend more time and effort to do the work.
Key factors to consider
You’ll still need to keep these elements in mind if you choose a cloud computing model:
- Compliance: Cloud computing vendors host their services around the world, which makes it easier for you to host applications close to your customers to improve performance and comply with data sovereignty requirements such as the GDPR. This is crucial for companies with international clients who have different data sovereignty requirements. On-prem hosting is usually hosted in a specific physical location, which makes it harder to comply with data sovereignty requirements in different jurisdictions. Maintaining compliance is crucial for safe business operations. Mistakes or infractions could result in aggressive legal penalties.
- Backups: You’ll need to ensure that your code repositories, configurations, databases, and business assets are secure in case of a disaster or a malicious attack. This means accurate and timely backups of those assets are vital to your business.
Cloud backups differ in several ways from on-premise backups. Cloud backups can encompass multiple geographical locations, giving them more protection against failures than an on-prem backup stored in one physical location. Cloud backups are also typically cheaper because a cloud vendor, in working with multiple clients, benefits from economies of scale. Additionally, cloud backups offer a shorter recovery time in case of issues because the infrastructure is easily accessible online, unlike an on-premise backup that might be blocked by logistical problems.
You need to make sure that you’ve chosen the right backup solution for your organization. Here are some key questions to ask:
- What are the available data recovery options?
- Is it easy and fast to use the backup solution to retrieve critical data?
- Does it cover all types of crucial resources, such as GitHub metadata or Jira queries?
- Is the backup operation automatic, requiring minimal human intervention?
- Are there any storage limits on how much data you can back up?
- Does the backup solution have world-class security certification (e.g., SOC 2 standard)?
- What are the backup solution’s current and future costs as you grow your business?
More companies are leveraging the cloud to reduce operational costs, automate processes, and become more agile. You can achieve multiple benefits for your organization if you migrate your infrastructure to a cloud model. Keep in mind key factors such as costs, compliance, and backup platforms to ensure that your switch is a successful one.
One good option for a backup platform is Rewind, an easy-to-use and straightforward software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that helps you secure your business-critical assets. Rewind offers automatic daily backups, granular data recovery, and multiple app integrations including GitHub, Jira, QuickBooks Online, and more. With over 100,000 organizations securing over 2 petabytes of data on its platform, Rewind is the leading provider of SaaS data backup and recovery services.