In nearly all business environments, information and data are both stored and transferred at all times. In processes, organizing, storing, and sharing information – ensuring the data remains secure is of utmost importance. Generally, in business, multiple devices (computers, smartphones, etc.) need to access information and shared software programs for employees to perform their work effectively. Thus, these devices are connected via a network of sorts, be that a traditional local area network (LAN), a more complex and farther-reaching wide area network (WAN), or a cloud network.
In setting up a business IT infrastructure, owners must choose between creating an on-site network or relying on a cloud-based infrastructure. Making the best decision requires understanding both the positives and negatives of each option.
What is an On-Site Network?
Cloud-based networking services have been growing in popularity over recent years, because of the flexibility and scalability it offers. However, many organizations still rely on an on-site (or on-premise) network. In this type of setup, companies house their own servers (generally protected by a firewall) and devices on the premises. These devices have any of the software the business and its employees need to operate installed on them. Usually, this requires that the business purchase a license for each software program, for each device needing it installed. With on-site networks, information is stored on the premises, so accessing data doesn’t require internet connectivity.
Pros of Utilizing an On-Site Network
Why do businesses choose on-site rather than a cloud-based alternative for their IT network? A big reason is that cloud networks require extremely reliable and fast internet access for employees to access information and programs stored in the cloud. With an on-site network, occurrences like internet outages have less of an impact than those relying on that internet connection to operate normally.
On-site networks allow companies to keep their data close, rather than utilizing cloud storage and servers located in other places worldwide. For businesses with high privacy concerns or industry or government regulations to follow, on-premise storage generally offers a more secure environment. Cloud network security continues to improve each year, so one day that may no longer be the case. For now, the lack of control in cloud-based environments keeps many businesses opting to stay in-house.
Speed is likely the other biggest pro of an on-site network. Storing data on-site means lower latency in transferring that data in and out of storage and among employees and devices. Organizations that operate quickly and require high-speed communications and information-sharing tend to appreciate the speed of an on-premise setup.
Cons of Operating with an On-Site IT Network
One of the biggest deterrents keeping businesses from using an on-site network is the upfront costs associated with implementing the infrastructure. On-site networks require at least one server, with many networks requiring multiple. While the price of servers varies, especially dependent on the amount of storage, they certainly are not cheap pieces of equipment. Storing servers on-site also requires physical space. For organizations operating out of limited square footage – especially those requiring multiple servers – an on-site setup might not be possible.
In addition to high upfront costs, on-site networks mean businesses are responsible for maintaining and repairing those servers over time. The same is true for all hardware and software used within the network. Maintaining servers, equipment, and software effectively requires extensive IT knowledge and resources. For companies without an experienced IT team in-house, effective maintenance requires external experts and can get expensive.
Cloud storage is much more infinite than on-premise storage capabilities. On-site networks only offer a limited amount of storage. For growing businesses, having to continuously purchase more disk space or memory (or additional servers) – costs can pile up. Also, it takes time to implement more storage with an on-site network, as opposed to cloud storage which can be added almost instantly (and usually at a lesser price tag).
Choosing Between On-Site and Cloud-based Networks
Both traditional, on-premise networks and cloud options offer businesses a way to communicate and collaborate effectively throughout the organization while keeping information and data secure. Weighing the pros and cons of each option and selecting the best one to implement is a process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Adding to its importance is the cost of switching strategies down the road.
Every business is unique in how it operates, therefore resulting in diverse IT needs from one company to another. The best approach to networking is generally the one that is backed by IT expertise and advice. But, not every business employs an IT department – or even one dedicated individual – to supply that expertise and make the best decisions when it comes to IT. In these cases, it’s best to consult with a team of IT experts trained in networking – including designing, installing, and maintaining them for optimum performance and efficiency.
Kustura Technologies offers free network audits for businesses looking to improve their existing network configuration or switch to or from an on-site network. We also offer guidance for new entities on the best IT approach based on their specific needs. Whether choosing the cloud or on-site, partnering with a team of local IT experts offers businesses peace of mind, knowing they are making the right choices with industry expertise and best practices behind them. To schedule a network audit or discuss options for implementing or improving the IT infrastructure within your business, contact the Kustura team today!