ITEXPO 2013: Which Way Will You Go? Hosted, Cloud or On-Premises?


ITEXPO 2013: Which Way Will You Go? Hosted, Cloud or On-Premises?

By Carrie Majewski (née Schmelkin)

The ITEXPO trade show floor might not officially open until this afternoon at 4, but a couple of key phrases are already making their way into convention vernacular, thanks to the compelling breakout sessions and keynotes that have already taken place.

This morning, there was no disputing the fact that the phrases “hosted,” “cloud” and “on-premises” were dominating the conversation, thanks in large part to the standing-room only  session titled “Making Sense of the Options: Hosted vs. Cloud vs. On-premises.”

“Your ears must have been ringing,” Skip Chilcott of Microsoft told this morning’s moderator when asked to explain the difference between the three words. “This is a topic that is discussed on a daily basis.”

According to Chilcott, there are several chief differentiators surrounding these terms. To begin, on-premises refers to the process of companies installing and customizing software on their own computers, which reside inside of their own data center.

When it comes to cloud, Chilcott argued that cloud is really all about creating a service that is built to scale and that affords choice and flexibility. Moreover, with cloud, companies can enjoy a heightened layer of security.

But, for organizations needing more than that—“more than the best security” and even greater scalability, Chilcott explained—a hosted service is an ideal offering. Touted for its ability to expand and contract on demand, hosted offers varied features sets and customization to meet specific needs.

“Hosted can be the same technologies as cloud but different in the way that it can meet your specific needs better,” Chilcott said. “Inherently it will have a higher cost, but the flexibility is better.”

So how do you choose among all three?

As explained by fellow panelist Kevin McMahan, with nexMatrix Telecom, companies ought to consider the level of management for which they are searching. For example, those companies who want a hosted service that is fully managed may have to pay a premium but they will have everything taken care of. Other companies might opt to go the cloud service route because it can be managed by a third party provider but also by the end user.

“That’s attractive to companies that have their own internal IT departments,” he explained.

Conversely, those who want to be completely involved with installation and maintenance will oftentimes go the on-premises route. In addition to leaving full management with the company, a premises-based solution is a less expensive option because all the company really has to handle is the upfront hardware costs.

Bobbi Chester, a panelist representing Interactive Intelligence, also noted the importance of weighing your business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) needs when it comes to choosing among the three models, or adopting a hybrid approach. According to Chester, the cloud has a “stronger edge than it’s ever had” when it comes to BC/DR. Chester want on to give the illustration that while in the past companies took comfort in hosting their own premise equipment and setting up data centers in states typically immune to natural disasters, that mentality has changed with the recent bout of severe super storms.

“Look at Hurricane Sandy,” she remarked. “Who would have thought the New York City subway would have flooded? Those things are happening more often than what we had ever anticipated.”

Trying to bring some sort of summary to this morning’s discussion, Chilcott explained, “Whether you need cloud-based, hosted-based or premised-based is based on your specific needs and requirements.”

Be sure to check back to the ITEXPO news page to find out where other panelists stand in the great cloud debate.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Director of Content Marketing, Content Boost

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