Cloud or On-site server: The Difference

By SpiderGroup

1 Aug 2011


“What’s the difference between the cloud and an on-site server?” is a question we get asked very frequently…

2011 is supposedly the connected era and is becoming very cloud orientated, however, we are well aware that the cloud isn’t for everyone and an on-site server may still be the best solution for some businesses.

Lets start with the current boom – the cloud.

What is the cloud?

A lot of people have Facebook and are familiar with uploading images and videos to their Facebook profile – and that’s exactly how the cloud works. Your cloud provider will take all of your important documents and applications and virtualise them for you allowing you to access your important files anywhere, even from a tablet.

The cloud can be an efficient way for businesses to run and access their IT, working especially well if for example you have a sales representative needing to travel abroad, as they would still have full access to all of their emails, documents, proposals and important business apps.

The cloud offers businesses an outsourced IT department as the company who virtualises all of your information will monitor it (hopefully 24/7 – 365 days) and if in the case anything bad happens, they react before a down-time can occur – the IT company gives you peace of mind, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best.

Cloud Computing allows businesses to take control of technology

As I mentioned earlier, the cloud is basically an outsourced IT department and gives businesses the ability to take control of their IT expenditure.

The cloud could be thought of as a utility – if you need more hardware or extra software installed, all you have to do is pay that little bit more for that facility.

Even if you are down-sizing your company, simply phone up your cloud provider and they can take users off – it’s pretty simple and your billing is done pro-rata.

What can be put onto the cloud?

Pretty much anything – within reason, except at the moment if your business is into 3D rendering of images – the cloud isn’t specifically designed for a fully virtualised solution of that nature but with technology ever changing, software companies like Adobe will eventually develop light-weight software designed for the cloud.

However, most other software programmes can be stored and updated in the Cloud. Having your software in the Cloud means that you can access it anywhere; you are no longer restricted by computer/software licenses etc

So what do I get with the Cloud?

The provider of your cloud solution should offer you a fully virtualised solution and take all of your current emails, document, images and important software and put them onto their platform, monitor it and get it all setup for you.

As the cloud is like a utility, it is fully customisable and can be changed at any time.

What about updates?

Updates happen automatically; your provider looks after all of this for you.

What’s on-site?

OK, so on-site is exactly what it says on the tin – all of your IT, computers and servers – are kept on-site.

Unlike the cloud where your documents, software and desktop is all virtualized, on-site is where all of your documents, desktop and PC’s are on your companies premises.

Why would I want to go for on-site rather than cloud?

As I mentioned previously, some businesses which require applications like AutoCAD or resource hungry programs need dedicated peripherals such as graphics cards for graphic designers or sound cards for music developers – there can be a few factors which influence on-site opposed to cloud.

Some companies also like to have their data within their office and prefer the traditional methods of computing.


The cost of on-site vs. cloud

With on-site computing, if you are purchasing new PC’s and Server’s you will have to purchase all of the new PCs and peripherals so say six PC’s is around £350 and a Server is around £3,000 – you would have a pretty expensive outlay and on top of that, you would have to pay for your support company to configure and set everything up. All in all, on-site comes with a significant setup cost and then a monthly cost thereafter.

Now with cloud computing, there is a setup cost of configuring the server and getting the thin clients setup but that is literally your one off cost and then a fixed fee each month there-after as nothing can fluxuate, this is why businesses are turning to cloud as they can budget for their IT expenditure.

Still don’t know which is best for you?

At SpiderGroup, we aim to educate companies on technology so if you still don’t know whether Cloud or on-site is best for you, call us or pop your questions below.

For more information, call us on 0117 933 0570 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you.

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