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On-Premises vs. Off-Premises

Demand for computational resources has grown exponentially in recent years. Early on, most companies didn’t need to deploy computing infrastructure internally. But today, companies in nearly every sector rely on sophisticated technology architectures to support the day-to-day operations of their businesses.

Because of the growing demand for IT infrastructure, many business models have emerged to address the different needs of companies. Cloud computing in particular has gained prominence in the past decade with the increase in demand for managed infrastructure. IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are some business models that have grown out of the cloud revolution.

Still, many companies can’t depend entirely on cloud services for their computing needs. They must decide whether investing in on-premises or off-premises infrastructure solutions is right for their business.

What Does On-Premises Mean?

When a company owns, manages, and operates its own IT infrastructure, it’s considered “on-premises.”

The company’s internal IT team handles the design, build, and management of the systems. In some rare cases, third-party vendors may manage some components. But, in most cases, the organisation completely owns and manages the location, devices, software, and applications.

What Does Off-Premises Mean?

For “off-premises” infrastructure, a third party provides and maintains the infrastructure, facilities, and allied services.

The organisation doesn’t have the responsibility of maintaining the facilities or infrastructure. Organisations using infrastructure maintained by cloud service providers only need to worry about identifying the ideal resource combination for their applications.

On-Premises vs. Off-Premises

Whether to build infrastructure in-house or outsource it is an important decision. It could potentially impact the company’s operating costs, efficiency, and performance for years. Given the potential consequences of taking the wrong approach, it’s important to understand the differences between on-premises and off-premises infrastructure.

In many ways, on-premises vs. off-premises infrastructure is similar to owning a house vs. renting one. Let’s look at the differences between on-premises and off-premises infrastructure across several key areas.




The organisation is completely responsible for the end-to-end execution and management of the infrastructure. Design, purchase, assembly, operation, backup, security, and maintenance are all handled in-house.

The managed service provider is responsible for managing the computing infrastructure. Power backup, maintenance, upkeep, data backup, and other responsibilities are all handled by the cloud provider.

Ownership and Control

The organisation has complete ownership of the infrastructure’s location, devices, network, and security. Any problem with the infrastructure is the sole responsibility of the internal IT team to fix—in the same way that a homeowner is generally responsible for repairing the roof or installing home security systems.

Because the organisation has complete control over all the aspects of the infrastructure, it may have more flexibility in creating personalized systems that integrate hardware and software according to the company’s needs.

The cloud service provider owns the facility and computational resources. The organisation that uses the infrastructure is like a tenant. It can use the infrastructure in accordance with the agreement with the provider. The company has less control over decisions about facilities and resources.

Capital Expenditure

Because the complete infrastructure has to be built by the organisation, on-premises setups generally require large capital outlays. For this approach to make financial sense, the organisation will have to generate a positive return on investment above the cost of capital, compared to alternative solutions. Large initial investments also make it difficult to abandon a project part way through—even if business needs or market conditions change.

Most cloud service providers offer a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model of payment. This subscription-type model alleviates the need for high capital expenditures. Customers can also leave the service whenever they want in most cases. This means they won’t risk getting stuck with unprofitable projects on their balance sheet.


After initial costs are accounted for, the company will have ongoing expenditures for energy, maintenance, and personnel.

On an annual basis, ongoing costs might be slightly less than the costs associated with off-premises solutions. However, companies must also factor in loan repayment as part of the complete financial picture. If the infrastructure wasn’t built with debt, the depreciation of the assets has to be taken into account instead.

Users pay a subscription fee or standard charges based on the resources they use. In this way, off-premises computing can be very flexible. Expenses associated with maintaining facilities and resources are shared across all of the provider’s customers. Generally, this means lower costs for customers than on-premises alternatives.


On-premises infrastructure has limited scalability. Once built, resources can’t be varied dynamically. This can cause a lack of resources or the underutilization of resources, depending on the fluctuating needs of the organisation.

Cloud providers offer greater scalability of resources. Organisations can scale resources up or down based on demand. The right amount of resources is virtually always available through the off-premises model.


The infrastructure doesn’t need to connect to the wider internet. The internal IT team can access it through the local network. This increases the privacy and security of the infrastructure, potentially making it a good fit for companies in highly regulated industries.

Users can only access the infrastructure over the internet because it isn’t located on the company’s premises. If access over the internet isn’t ideal, the cloud provider and organisation will need to build a secure private network.


Companies are responsible for the security of their infrastructure, platform, and any applications running on the infrastructure. Companies must not only create their own security protocols and deploy protective software but also hire security experts to protect the infrastructure from cyberattacks.

The cloud service provider is responsible for securing its infrastructure and platform. The company using the infrastructure is only responsible for the security of the applications it installs. This significantly reduces the investment that’s needed.

Managing Patches and Updates

When platform software needs to be updated, the company can make the decision internally and put changes into motion immediately. The same can be done for hardware, though that may require capital allocation and result in a minor disruption in service.

The cloud service provider manages platform hardware and software updates. Companies using the service may have limited control over how and when changes occur. That said, given their scalable nature, cloud service providers may be able to update resources without affecting service levels.


Choosing On-Premises vs. Off-Premises

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing on-premises vs. off-premises. It also isn’t necessary to choose one over the other entirely. Organisations that require a high degree of data security, for example, may take a hybrid-cloud approach. They might opt for a limited on-premises infrastructure paired with cloud-based SaaS applications on a private-cloud account for less sensitive situations.

Pure Storage® hybrid-cloud solutions—created in partnership with AWS, Microsoft, and VMware—can help organisations balance the privacy offered by on-premises infrastructure with the efficiency of off-premises infrastructure. Take a look at our Hybrid Cloud Buyer’s Guide for more on increasing the data effectiveness of your organisation.

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