White Paper: Considerations when Choosing Between Hosting On Premise or in The Cloud

Traditionally, organizations implementing large scale technological solutions needed to have the IT infrastructure necessary to host the solution themselves. This meant dedicating time, space, money, and resources to purchase and maintain all the necessary hardware to host the solution as well as providing IT support to employees. The recent wide-scale availability of cloud hosted solutions has dramatically changed the way organizations look at procuring software solutions. 

Generally, cloud hosted solutions provide a lower barrier to entry for organizations looking to purchase software solutions. Upfront costs are significantly lower and, if a product does not work out, they can simply end their contract without worries about how much money was sunk into hardware.   

Cloud solutions also offer easier management and maintenance of a technological solution as these functions are outsourced to agencies with dedicated staff and resources.  However, outsourcing these functions also means giving up sole control of an organization's data and the security of that data.  For organizations that already have the necessary infrastructure and well established IT procedures and policies, the move to cloud based solutions may not seem worth the risk or may even end up costing more money. For organizations that have to follow government mandated procedures, it can be hard to decipher if a cloud hosted solution will meet all the necessary requirements.  

The choice can be daunting with the need to consider up-front costs versus long-term costs and to balance the desire for full control versus lowering time commitments from IT staff. The amount of information and misinformation on the Internet about "the cloud" can make the decision even more challenging! In this paper, we hope to help those organizations searching for an answer to cut through the noise, so that they can make a well informed decision about what solution is best for their specific needs and organization.   

In this paper, we will explore the questions that Emergency Managers and IT Directors should consider specifically when implementing a Crisis Information Management System (CIMS) and deciding between deploying a cloud hosted or on premise solution.  This paper does not intend to list all of the items for consideration, but to raise questions frequently encountered by Buffalo Computer Graphics in various Requests for Proposals and other client inquiries. We encourage agencies seeking a solution to do their own due diligence before making a purchase. 

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