Cloud Intranet vs On-Premise Platform: Which is Best?
Although cloud intranet software is now a popular choice for organizations, some companies still use on-premise intranets. This article summarizes the differences between the two and outlines the pros and cons. It will help you identify which are the best intranet platforms for your business to consider.
Why does cloud computing matter for intranets?
Back when internet connections were too slow and unreliable to support commercial data, organizations commonly bought and maintained physical data centers and servers so they could manage their digital operations from a specific location.
As internet speeds increased in the early 2000s though, many of these businesses underwent a revolution – they moved their digital operations to ‘the cloud’ and gave up this expensive on-premise hardware. This included how they ran their intranets. Many companies changed model and began using cloud storage for their intranet sites.
By allowing businesses to store and manage data through remote third-party providers, cloud computing has enabled them to operate without a central server, which in turn allows greater flexibility, scalability, and a reduction of costs.
Cloud computing is now so universal that:
- 90% of Fortune 500 companies use the Microsoft 365 suite
- 70% of business software apps are licensed from SaaS providers (cloud-based)
- Enterprises with over 1,000 employees use an average of 177 SaaS applications
Before we get into the detail of cloud intranet software vs on-premise solutions, here’s a look at why so many companies trust the cloud with their data. It’s also worth noting that businesses considering cloud solutions should also compare web hosting options.
Cloud intranet vs on-premise: The role of SaaS
The cloud computing revolution has enabled the emergence of ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) vendors.
SaaS applications are third-party providers that use cloud technology to host and manage software applications and underlying infrastructure for other organizations. They then deliver this as a service over the internet, allowing organizational users to access relevant services and information via web browser and mobile app.
Companies use SaaS applications to perform every kind of operation, from sending email to launching employee surveys. Popular examples include Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft 365, Slack, Dropbox, and many, many more.
The SaaS market is worth approximately $3 trillion, and estimates suggest it may reach $10 trillion by 2030.
Just like these other systems, most modern intranet software projects have also moved from their on-premise origins (built and maintained by internal IT staff on location), to SaaS vendors such as Interact.
Cloud intranets explained
Cloud-based intranets are hosted on the internet and are accessed through a web browser. This means that as long as they have an internet connection, employees can access their intranet from anywhere, on any device.
Cloud intranets are typically more scalable and cost-effective than on-premise systems because the organization doesn’t have to pay for the hardware, data, and human resources involved in set up and maintenance.
Because cloud intranets are provided by specialist vendors who have designed the product for that particular purpose, there is always a flow of managed updates, customer support, and new features. These things may be missing in a system that the company chooses to build and maintain on its own.
On-premise intranets explained
On-premise intranets are hosted on the organization’s own servers and may be kept in a monitored location. Because the organization is managing this storage for itself, it may have a greater degree of control over the security of its data.
Although an on-premise solution gives businesses more control, it also requires a significant upfront investment in hardware and software. Buyers should also necessary factor in the cost of specialist staff to manage and update it over the long term.
Additionally, on-premise IT systems can be difficult to scale as businesses will need to purchase and install additional hardware and data storage if they grow.
What’s the debate?
Despite the ascendancy of cloud computing and the cloud intranet model, some organizations still require the control of on-premise servers.
This is particularly true in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare or financial services. These sectors may have reservations about cloud storage if they believe that using a third-party provider to store the organization’s data will make it more vulnerable to outages and data breaches.
However, when it comes to security, cloud providers now have extremely strict privacy and data protection rules. Intranet vendors will provide details of their intranet security policies, along with compliance information on the certifications they hold.
Ultimately, the best choice for a business depends on its specific requirements. Businesses that need more control over their data and have unlimited access to internal IT support may prefer on-premise systems. Businesses looking for a more scalable and cost-effective solution with regular developments and support may prefer cloud-based systems.
Pros and cons of cloud-based intranets
- Easy to set up and use
- Managed and supported
- Have their own development infrastructure
- Less control over security and privacy
- May be less suitable for organizations with specific compliance needs
Pros and cons of on-premise intranets
- More control over security and privacy
- Suitable for the largest organizations
- Can be customized to meet specific hardware and data needs
- Expensive to set up and maintain
- Difficult to update
- Not as scalable as cloud-based intranets
- Hard for non-specialists to update, leading to a higher workload for IT
Which is the best intranet for your business?
The best intranet for your business will depend on your company’s requirements.
If you are looking for an affordable, easy-to-use intranet that is accessible from anywhere, then a cloud-based intranet may be a good option for you.
If you need more control over security and privacy, or if you have a large organization, then an on-premise intranet may be a good choice.
Nothing is simple though and you’ll want to connect with an expert to discuss it.