Cloud vs. on-premise security: Who wins?

Sara Ana Cemazar
November 24, 2022
min read

Software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based tools have become critical for companies to stay competitive and agile. Modern Saas tools, like Salesforce, have become crucial for companies to collaborate efficiently. Public cloud providers have made it easy for businesses to use these tools. However, this shift to the cloud has led to some serious cybersecurity challenges.

The data security parameters have shifted from traditional, on-premise security to cloud-first. With an on-premise stack, companies hosted their applications in their own data centers and had control over them. 

When companies switch to cloud providers, data security becomes a shared responsibility between the company and the cloud provider.

For instance, when a company stores data in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) data center, they have to configure and manage its organizational security policies. Hence, security breaches become the company’s responsibility, despite not having complete control over how the data is stored.

This article explores cloud vs. on-premise security, their differences, pros and cons, and which method is more secure in the modern age.

Cloud vs. on-premise security: The differences

Companies usually choose between cloud or on-premise solutions when they do business. They choose one over another for their respective advantages and their own perspective on data security. Here are some key differences between cloud vs. on-premise security.

On-premise security:

On-premise security requires an on-site data server to run the access control software. Companies that opt for on-premise systems must invest in hardware such as control boards, door readers, etc. They also need a license to run the software on their local servers. Moreover, the company must manage its servers. Here are some key differentiating factors:

1. On-premise security needs constant monitoring and maintenance.

2. Companies get to retain all the data and have complete control of it.

3. On-premise security includes both physical and network security measures. It is better for companies that need to meet compliance and industry standards.

4. It allows companies to configure their systems however they want. However, they need high-level expertise for this.

5. Brands must invest in expensive data security tools to protect each enterprise layer.

6. Security measures will be limited to their current location.

cloud vs on premise security

Cloud-based security:

Cloud-based security systems are hosted on a system of remote servers. Businesses do not need a dedicated server specialist to maintain them, eliminating the need for a local server at each location.

The cloud-managed service provider is usually available as a SaaS model. It has monthly or annual subscriptions that cover troubleshooting, monitoring and supervision of network servers, cloud storage for all data, information security, encryption updates, backup recovery, performance checks, etc. Some key differentiators are:

1. The responsibility for data security falls on the shoulders of both the enterprise and the vendor.

2. APIs make cloud security highly automated — this translates to less burden on the internal IT staff. 

3. It is accessible from anywhere. Everything on the cloud is located in centralized platform security.

4. Public cloud-based services involve trusting a third party with valuable data.

5. Ensure that the cloud provider you opt for complies with the necessary regulations.

6. Many cloud-based data security services are pre-configured, so ensure you are comfortable with all they offer.

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Cloud vs. on-premise security: examining the benefits

Now that we’ve seen the difference between cloud-based and on-premise security options, let’s examine the benefits.

Benefits of on-premise  cyber security

1. Highly customizable 

In-house teams can customize the servers as per their needs efficiently and quickly. It might be expensive, but it allows teams to develop tailored solutions for their specific issues. However, you need to ensure that teams are present physically on-site to ensure the fixes, which can be difficult in hybrid or remote workplaces.

2. In-house IT team

On-premise security is preferable and beneficial if you have an in-house IT team. They are aware of the company’s needs and goals. However, companies must keep investing in this team and ensure they are well-equipped to do their jobs.

3. Regulatory compliance 

Many companies have strict regulatory policies regarding data storage and sharing. On-premise hosting can help comply with these regulations.

4. Full system control

Air gapping is a necessity in certain industries. On-premise security method gives businesses complete control of their security. Once the license is installed, it can accommodate system customizations. Most on-premise systems are connected to a local backup power ensuring smooth functioning in the event of a power outage.

5. Local data storage

A major benefit of on-premise security is that it lets companies control their data storage and security without third-party interference. However, to prevent data loss in a system failure or outage, businesses with on-premise security solutions must perform regular backups.

Benefits of cyber security on the cloud  

1. Data breaches

As we've seen in the recent WhatsApp data breach, cloud solutions are susceptible to cyberattacks from hackers with malicious intent. On the other hand, on-premise hosting means that your data presides in one physical location, making it more vulnerable to exploit. It's a matter of perspective, but privacy-conscious businesses increasingly choose on-premise as their security motto.

2. Downtime and restoration

Minimum downtime is ideal for every IT and support team as it means more time to get ahead of your competitors. Cloud storage enables you to backs up your data in multiple locations. In case of network outages, businesses can easily restore data stored on a cloud.

3. Resolves scalability issues

Cloud services enable companies to scale without major data privacy barriers since data centers can adjust their resources to meet your scalability demands. But, due to time limits and the high costs, re-adjusting resources is comparatively difficult.

4. Remote management

Making changes remotely is one of the biggest advantages of cloud-based security. You can configure and manage all locations from a cloud-accessed dashboard that is available 24/7. Many access control providers have a remote unlock feature that lets administrators open the door for people even without being on-site.

cloud vs on premise security

5. Increased ROI

Cloud-based security solutions are more cost-effective when it comes to ROI. Many cloud-based access control systems run on an open platform, enabling easy third-party integration. These integrations can help automate multiple processes across the enterprise so businesses can evolve more flexibly.

Is the cloud more secure than on-premise solutions?

The decision varies from business to business. All companies have different and specific needs, and it is up to them to decide which data security method would serve them the best.

Many businesses feel nervous about storing sensitive data on the cloud because they do not fully understand it or find it unnerving. On-premise security option provides tangibility and needs more maintenance. A business might feel more secure when humans handle the enterprise’s security measures.

Even though on-premise doesn't necessarily mean more secure or error-free, since the human error can also easily affect on-premises security, it does put you back in the driver seat: with on-prem, you have full ownership over your data and full data sovereignty. In certain industries like government and defense, on-premise deployment is the premise of multilevel security approach. The healthcare industry is also turning to on-premise deployment due to strict data privacy regulations in place.

cloud vs on premise security

Cloud-based security can also be compromised due to one or the other reason. But if you employ zero-trust cybersecurity, you can keep your network as secure as possible.

What works best for your business? 

The harsh reality is: there is no simple answer.

Businesses must consider a few things while deciding between cloud vs. on-premise security. Cloud-based security is ideal for those who want the freedom to integrate with other platforms. It offers appealing aspects, such as scalability, longevity, and future-proof technology. Additional features, like remote management, also make the cloud-based system a more flexible solution.

On-premise security is ideal if you must adhere to compliance and regulations as per government or industry standards. It is well-suited for organizations that need to follow strict security requirements. On-premise solutions or in-house systems are also easier to customize according to our needs.

On-prem, open source collaboration tool for privacy-conscious organizations

We live in the information age with a lot of new technology without thinking too much about security measures. While cybersecurity is one of the most trending areas of technology in terms of investment, it also needs a 360-degree lookout on every front. In addition, the rise of next-generation technology, such as cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), and more, has radically increased the need for cloud-based data storage and data centers.

Some deep questions lay at the root of cybersecurity. Besides, companies also need to consider various data protection trends to stay updated and match industry standards. 

Rocket.Chat is an open-source communication platform that ensures seamless data sharing and top-notch security. It can be deployed both on-premise or in the cloud. Rocket.Chat serves privacy-conscious organizations that want to utilize the power of collaboration in highly-regulated industries such as government and defense, healthcare, finance, and education..

Sign up for a free trial. If you’re still unsure, talk to our experts today to learn more about cloud vs. on-premise security and which option suits your business the best.

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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