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The Key Differences Between On-Premises and Cloud Security

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Cloud Security

By SolarWinds MSP

Today’s businesses can decide between on-premises vs. cloud solutions for just about every element of their IT services, including software, servers, storage, backups, security, and enterprise resource planning (ERP). The cloud is becoming increasingly popular, but on-premises or “on-prem” implementations retain a vital role. Each solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. As a managed services provider (MSP), it’s your job to make sure your customers make the choice that’s right for them. In this article, we’ll investigate cloud vs. on-premises pros and cons, as well as how to help your customers pick the best fit for their needs.

What is the difference between on-premises and the cloud?

On-premises servers are the traditional enterprise computing model. In this implementation, all hardware and software resides in house. A business purchases and maintains its own servers, located in a secure, climate-controlled room onsite. The company needs specialized IT support to manage the equipment, as well as appropriate HVAC systems to keep the equipment in working order. IT professionals must stay up to date with the latest software updates and perform regular backups. As the business expands, it needs to procure new hardware to meet its growing demands.

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In the past couple of decades, cloud computing has emerged as an alternative or compliment to on-premises infrastructure. In contrast to on prem, cloud solutions mean that businesses rely on servers that exist offsite — sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their offices. By paying a monthly fee for access to massive data centers, a business is able to store its data on a small portion of those remote servers. The cloud provider takes care of maintenance, backups, software updates, power and HVAC. The customer then relies on the internet to access its IT systems. Today’s leading cloud providers are large multinational corporations such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Is the cloud more secure than on-premises?

The security of the cloud vs. on-premises is a key consideration in this debate. Cloud security controls have historically been considered less robust than on-prem ones, but cloud computing is no longer a new technology. Nowadays, more and more businesses are trusting the cloud for their security needs.

A company running its own on-premises servers retains more complete control over security. They are responsible for setting appropriate user access policies, installing firewalls and antivirus software, ensuring security patches are installed promptly, and guarding against cyberattacks. This degree of control can be something of a double-edged sword. For a business with appropriate IT support, on-premises solutions give companies confidence that their servers are locked down — they don’t need to trust another company with their private data. On the other hand, if mismanaged, on-prem servers can leave an organization vulnerable to security threats.

Data security in the cloud, on the other hand, is handled by the cloud provider. Before choosing a cloud solution, it’s essential to learn about their security protocols. Is the data center protected from intruders? Is software kept up to date with the latest security fixes? What measures are in place to protect against cybercriminals and catastrophes? The largest cloud providers have robust security teams and tight procedures. Yet with all the sensitive data they store, they present a tempting target for hackers.

Cloud security controls are particularly risky for businesses in …

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