Cloud Security

Cloud vs On-premise Security: 6 Critical Differences

When security professionals plan and design a security infrastructure for organizations, one question always comes to mind: Cloud Security vs. On-premise Security? The decision is complex, and there have been ongoing debates between cloud security and on-premise security.  Every enterprise is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A company’s security needs can be vastly […]

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

August 25, 2023 | 6 min read

When security professionals plan and design a security infrastructure for organizations, one question always comes to mind: Cloud Security vs. On-premise Security? The decision is complex, and there have been ongoing debates between cloud security and on-premise security. 

Every enterprise is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A company’s security needs can be vastly different. Today’s businesses run a variety of components ranging from hardware equipment, IT assets, storage, backup, servers, software, and other cloud services. 

As cloud ecosystems become increasingly sophisticated and IT environments grow, it is essential to understand the differences between Cloud and On-premise Security (Cloud vs On-premise Security) and make clear distinctions before implementation. 

In this guide, we will discuss the pros and cons of each, including how cloud vs on-premise security differ. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Cloud Security?
  2. What is On-premise Security?
  3. Difference between Cloud vs On-premise Security
  4. Critical Differences Between Cloud Security and On-premise Security
  5. Cloud vs On-premise Security – When to Choose?
  6. Conclusion

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud Security encompasses security features and solutions offered by vendors that host data centers offsite or off-premises. The cloud uses global data centers to manage security and content at scale. An internet connection is constantly required to access cloud-based services, and business owners can secure their assets in public, private, and hybrid cloud environments. Cloud security also consists of other components such as – identity and access management, data governance, legal compliance, risk mitigation, and data recovery and backup. 

What is On-premise Security? 

On-premise Security comprises offline security measures and includes infrastructure components hosted on-site. Typically, business owners own infrastructure equipment, and nothing is hosted online. It’s also harder to breach network parameters since attackers must get past security personnel and need authorized access on-site.

The management and maintenance of on-premise security solutions also depend on the organization. The only downside is that operational costs are significantly higher, but when users consider data privacy, integrity, and complete confidentiality, they are insured.

Difference between Cloud vs. On-premise Security

Companies usually choose between Cloud vs On-premise Security when designing their security measures. Modern SaaS solutions like SalesForce have made it easier for brands to collaborate efficiently globally, and many public cloud service providers offer different services. However, the shift to the cloud has opened platforms to various cybersecurity challenges, and vendors need to pay more attention to security by default in designs.

The data security parameters of every organization are different, and companies that use an on-premise stack have the advantage of hosting their applications and assets in their data centers. On-premise infrastructures benefit from housing IT resources physically and directly accessing their storage and individual system components. The equipment can be easily repaired, maintained, and managed by authorized security personnel, and companies can hire on-site techs to secure or scrub data from these devices. 

Another advantage of on-premise security is having complete control over the network perimeter. On-premises systems are more physically secure and monitored by cameras, badge readers, IT staff, and security personnel.

Critical Differences Between Cloud vs On-premise Security

Cloud security solutions offer centralized visibility, continuous monitoring, and regular vulnerability assessment. On-premise solutions require manual intervention, and security teams must initiate security assessments and testing. However, modern businesses are shifting to cloud infrastructures because of increased scalability, significant cost savings, and evolving cybersecurity measures.

Cloud security follows a proactive and iterative approach to security monitoring. As technologies evolve, so will the cloud security landscape. Clients prefer businesses that use cloud security solutions since they follow industry standards and ensure worldwide accessibility. Companies that leverage cloud security solutions find they have a more excellent reputation in the market and are viewed as trustworthy overall. There’s also increased transparency since vendors announce security features and the latest releases, bug fixes, and other improvements to the public.

The following are the critical differences between Cloud and On-premise Security.

ParametersOn-premise SecurityCloud Security
SoftwareOn-premise software is run on a company’s hardware infrastructure locallyCloud software is stored, run, and managed on the cloud service provider’s servers. All of the company’s applications are hosted offsite.
Data rightsEnterprises have complete control over their data and rights and get extra privacy.Since data is stored in the cloud vendor’s jurisdiction, users don’t have full rights over their data. A third-party provider regulates data and encryption keys; if there are server downtimes, users may temporarily lose access to it.
CustomizationOn-premise security solutions can be customized to any degree by enterprises. Users can add or remove security features or components per their business requirements.Cloud security solutions are not infinitely customizable and offer limited features. These features may vary from vendor to vendor and are subject to industry regulations and legal obligations.
Storage CapacityOn-premise security offers limited storage capacities. Enterprises need to invest in additional hardware and storage components to scale up. There may also be migration or upgradation issues.Cloud security solutions can be easily scaled up or down per business requirements. Data storage is not a problem, and all data centers are monitored by appropriate security measures provided by the vendor in real time, 24/7.
ReliabilityOn-premise security is more reliable as the premises are not susceptible to external threats. All hardware and infrastructure components are closely guarded by security personnel. A data breach could only happen if the attacker manages to breach the physical premises and gain access to equipment.Cloud security is less reliable than on-premise security because a server downtime or delay can shut down an entire business’s operations. If the cloud vendor goes offline, an organization’s performance is compromised, and there is no way of ensuring business continuity during those events.
Investment and MaintenanceOn-premise security solutions require substantial investment, and business owners have colossal startup and operating costs. Maintenance costs may also be high due to infrastructure equipment upkeep and repairs.Cloud security solutions do not require upfront payments or investments of any sort. Cloud vendors provide a pay-as-you-use model, and businesses pay for how much data storage and other security services they use.
Table – Cloud vs On-premise Security

Cloud vs On-premise Security – When to Choose?

There needs to be a clear about which security is best or when to choose on-premise or cloud security. It depends on the organization’s needs, and every parameter is different.

If an organization wants maximum security long-term and doesn’t mind the higher costs, on-premise security can be a great solution. This is because it restricts access to data and offers greater control. Cloud security solutions provide the added benefit of making security scalable and following a pay-as-you-go pricing model. If the business owner wants to discontinue using cloud solutions, they can opt out of the subscription.

The most crucial distinction between cloud security and on-premises is location. When choosing on-premise security, users know where data is hosted and how it is secured. Cloud data centers may change locations and use remote data centers. If the vendor migrates or updates security policies, all upcoming changes may impact users. Additionally, there is no risk of infrastructures getting raided or being prone to physical theft when choosing cloud security solutions. There is peace of mind, and cloud security solutions do not require installing or maintaining additional hardware or physical security components.

Cloud security solutions can also monitor and analyze high volumes of data, another critical factor to consider. It can transmit large file sizes, share resources, and enable users to collaborate on projects seamlessly across the globe. There are no limits to the data storage capacity, and security teams can also enjoy layered protection. Conducting digital forensics during data breaches is easier since cloud security solutions maintain a clear trail and archive evidence. 

On-premise solutions have the added risk of redundancy and do not incorporate automatic rerouting. Proactive network and storage device maintenance lowers the risk of unexpected downtimes. On-premise solutions are more reliable and offer faster response times and ongoing support.

Conclusion

Cloud vs On-premise Security exhibits their differences and offers significant advantages. Some businesses that want to secure mission-critical data but avoid owning physical infrastructure find cloud security solutions beneficial. Each security type has risks and subjects users to different support, storage, and maintenance criteria. Other types of sensitive information are prone to industry regulations when hosting data on the cloud, and international data laws also apply.

On-premise solutions can make a big difference when an organization wants security off the grid and doesn’t want data stored online. However, the downside is that security teams must constantly monitor, review, and analyze recorded and stored footage on-premise. IT staff must perform manual audits and check who enters and exits these premises. On-premise security has limited mobility and is labor-intensive from that perspective. Cloud security solutions come with built-in incident response and investigation tools, which may assist security teams with faster threat remediation. But the downside is that business owners are at the mercy of the cloud vendor. If the service provider decides to discontinue or withdraw their services suddenly, business owners get impacted the most.