The Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional On-Premises Data Centers vs. Cloud Computing

A data center hallway with servers.Imagine the number of stars we can currently view in the universe. Now multiply that by 40. That’s the amount of bytes that the World Economic Forum projected would exist overall in the digital world in 2020 (a total of 44 zettabytes). In this era of Big Data that keeps getting bigger, how and where to store and manage that expanding amount of information has become an important question for business leaders and IT teams.

In recent years, many companies have decided to switch from traditional on-premises data centers to cloud computing solutions. The seventh annual Cisco® Global Cloud Index (2016-2021) predicted that cloud data centers would process 94 percent of workloads and compute instances by this year, with the remaining 6 percent handled by traditional data centers.

If you’re wondering whether your organization would be better off sticking with the traditional route or turning to the cloud, here’s an overview of traditional on-prem data centers and their pros and cons compared to cloud solutions.

What Is a Traditional Data Center?

Overall, a data center is a physical facility utilized to store and deliver vital applications and data, according to Cisco. They include storage and network infrastructure as well as computing resources (e.g., servers, routers, firewalls, switches, and more).

Traditional on-prem data centers involve physical servers located on-site and owned, managed and maintained by your organization. Alternately, some businesses choose to work with third-party data center service providers, which might involve renting space in the provider’s facility (colocation) to house your equipment (i.e., firewalls and servers) or leasing equipment and paying a managed service provider (MSP) to oversee it for you, according to Cisco.

In the case of cloud computing solutions, your company relies on off-premises data centers managed and maintained by the cloud solution provider.

Advantages of Traditional On-Site Data Centers

Like all IT solutions, traditional on-prem data centers have both pros and cons, all of which you should carefully consider along with your organizational needs when deciding what works best for your business. Here are a few of the main advantages of on-site data centers, according to the Business News Daily article “Cloud vs. Data Center: What to Consider.”

Control: You have complete control over an on-premises data center, including the hardware and software utilized.

Customization: You can customize it in line with your workloads and requirements.

Security: Only members of your staff will have access to the data center, so you can be sure it’s in trustworthy hands.

Disadvantages of On-Prem Data Centers

On the other hand, an on-site data center has some significant drawbacks compared to cloud solutions, according to the KernelTalks blog entry “Benefits of cloud computing over the traditional data center.” Here are just a few notable disadvantages:

Higher costs: You’ll end up spending more to purchase, maintain and upgrade hardware, in addition to running necessary systems such as power and cooling.

Limited scalability: Cloud solutions can easily scale up to accommodate growing businesses, while you’ll face an upper limit to your capacity if you opt for on-prem hardware.

Less accessibility: On-prem solutions typically can’t accommodate a distributed workforce as easily as the cloud can, which is a considerable stumbling block if some or all of your team members work from home. However, high levels of accessibility are possible if you work with a data center provider that offers direct connect services.

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to housing critical apps and data. If you’d like guidance as you evaluate your options, our trusted technology advisors are available to assist you and have extensive experience working with both data center and cloud solutions.

Connect with our advisors today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing

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