On-Premises Comeback: Cloud Is Just One Side of the Story
These days, it’s easy to think that on-premises deployments of infrastructure software no longer exist, besides desktop applications or perhaps residual file and print servers. After all, the current conversation is all about cloud native technologies and cloud infrastructure.
However, in practice, on-premises deployments never really disappeared. In fact, they may be making a comeback.
On-Premises Is Here to Stay
The cloud computing revolution did bring a lot of advantages for customers, but a kind of monoculture emerged where the clear understanding of each market segment faded away and was replaced by an injunction to move to the cloud, a notion not really specified any further. There are indeed several definitions of cloud computing, but in the general IT culture, cloud computing is mostly thought of as the public cloud infrastructure and major SaaS offerings. Besides the strong adoption of public cloud services, however, private cloud or the adoption of cloud technologies for on-premises deployments has grown.
This counterintuitive trend has two different aspects. First, the major trends do show strong growth in public cloud adoption, but what this may not reflect is an actual drop in on-premises deployments and IT systems. Second, the public cloud itself really is only one way of using cloud computing. Cloud technologies may be deployed on-premises or via data centers that are not part of a public cloud infrastructure. Today, many companies rely on a mix of cloud resources that may run on-premise, through data centers and even on public cloud infrastructures. This is very much what “hybrid cloud” is about.
Another, more intriguing trend seems to be at work here. Public cloud resources tend to become more and more expensive as organizations use them more extensively. The expense reaches thresholds where it can make sense to bring back IT services and resources inside the organization, be it inside the company’s existing premises or in data centers used and rented by the company. In this sense, the now-famous move of DropBox away from public cloud to its own infrastructure may well be the tree that hides the forest behind it.
Advantages for On-Prem Deployments
There really are many benefits to on-premises deployments, and they can be roughly divided into three categories:
- Architecture-specific or use case-specific benefits. Sometimes relying on cloud-like architectures and services does not really make any sense because of physical or location reasons.
- Use cases where direct control or power over the architecture and the systems by the company is necessary.
- Scenarios for which it simply is cheaper to run on-premises systems than relying on cloud providers.
Besides these categories, it is worth noting that at this point in time most on-prem systems tend to use at least some part of the technologies and tools stemming originally from cloud technologies. It is even more true for cases where on-premises systems run together with small or medium-size systems in data centers – the proverbial hybrid cloud. One can find, of course, a virtualization stack, some orchestration components, replication and backups, and often containers and their management layers.
In this regard, Vates provides the whole range of solutions designed for hybrid cloud use cases, from the XCP-ng hypervisor, the Xen Orchestra backup, management, orchestration and replication tool down to containers running in isolation inside virtual machines. Because of all this, it is easy to wonder where the cloud is. It seems to be everywhere, even with on-premises deployments.
An interesting and somewhat emerging case is edge computing. Edge computing may be defined in many ways and is a fast-growing market segment. It could be roughly described as anything that does not fit in the regular data center. Edge computing primarily happens on a local, on-premises deployment and in a distributed way. In other words, edge computing is a new kind of on-premises use case. It has several constraints mostly stemming from diverse physical factors – unsecure hardware, adverse meteorological conditions, difficulty to access the system, etc.
Because of this and the need to ensure these edge deployments are connected to a broader infrastructure, all kinds of innovation are taking place in this field. In this regard, it is quite possible that on-premises is the new stack.