The Ultimate Guide to On Prem vs. Cloud Database Software

January 12, 2023

If you’re a modern business, your database is the heart of your tech stack—and, thus, the heart of your organization. As a result of this, selecting the best approach to database software is mission critical, especially when you’re choosing between On prem vs Cloud services. You need an agile, reliable, flexible and cost-efficient database management system (DBMS)—without it, your enterprise simply won’t be able to keep up with the competition.

This realization has been a key motivator in driving companies of all sizes to adopt cloud databases while shedding their legacy on-premises technology. After all, cloud solutions have positioned themselves as the way of the future—not just for DBMS but for nearly every aspect of the modern IT stack. 

When learning how to host a database, it’s important for a business to find the database strategy that’s right and is suited to them rather than just choosing what feels trendiest. Every organization has unique needs and specific benchmarks for its resources. With all the options available—on prem, cloud, hybrid, and more—understanding the nuances and distinctions between these solutions deserves your time and attention.

In this blog, we’ll help you do just that—find the perfect DBMS strategy for your enterprise.


On prem vs. cloud computing: The key pros and cons

While an on premises storage to database software ruled supreme for many years, the disruptive introduction of the cloud has gradually pulled more and more businesses away from an on-prem approach. For some, the common wisdom seems to be that a “cloud first” or “cloud only” future is inevitable. In all likelihood, it’s more complicated than that—and will continue to be for quite some time.

That being the case, let’s look at what separates on-prem and cloud based solutions across the areas that most affect your business. For each area, we’ll present the pros and cons of both options.

You may be asking, how does cloud computing work? Visit our blog to learn more when selecting which type of database management software is best for your business.


Perhaps the biggest difference between on-prem and cloud based solutions manifests in deployment. With a public cloud provider, deployment is relatively simple. Once you’ve paid for your license, you’re able to hit the ground running (more or less). Your database is hosted by your cloud service provider, and you have access to all their resources. However, you’re not in charge of building, deploying and maintaining any cloud servers of your own.

With an on premises storage approach, it’s the exact opposite. Your in-house IT team is 100% responsible for the deployment, as well as managing your server hardware. Every single element of the database is yours to maintain; should you have physical server issues, they’re entirely on your teams to address.



That level of responsibility for on-prem database solutions also comes with a fair amount of control, which is one of the key reasons that some businesses will opt to stick with an on-prem strategy. Because you have total ownership of your servers, you also have total ownership of every piece of data stored on them. For enterprises in highly-regulated industries, this can be extremely valuable.

With cloud storage, you relinquish some control by putting your database architecture in the hands of a commercial provider. In certain scenarios this can mean limitations on what tools you can integrate into your database or how you can expand your DBMS infrastructure. It’s important to note, however, that when it comes to the managed vs self service options, the “managed” approach commonly associated with a cloud service provider (CSP) is not one size fits all.By carefully comparing different cloud data storage options, you can find one where you don’t feel as though you’ve given up the ability to do what you want with your small or big data management project.


Security and compliance

With questions of control come questions about security and compliance—and the distinctions here are similar to those we’ve just discussed. Highly-regulated enterprises—such as those in government or banking—will often prefer on-prem databases because managing all data in-house usually ensures greater protection against bad actors or other security risks. The same goes for compliance: if you’re a government agency or healthcare provider that needs to closely adhere to vital regulations, the idea of having full control over your data is naturally appealing. In fact, it seems like the best possible fit!

One thing that’s important to consider, however, is that—since you take on the full responsibility for your database when using an on-prem approach—you will have to be prepared to address breaches and outages entirely on your own. While cloud providers can often alert businesses to potential issues in advance, those who manage their DBMS entirely in-house might not catch such things as quickly.

As with control, exploring different cloud providers and their solutions is key to achieving robust security and dynamic compliance in the cloud. Not all providers are created equal, and these subjects should be front of mind when evaluating a potential DBMS if the cloud is your strategy of choice.



Finally comes the question of cost—an area where the cloud has done everything it can to dominate the conversation. After all, cloud evangelists will tell you, with a CSP, you’re only paying for what you use. You don’t have to budget for or spend money and other resources maintaining your entire infrastructure; that’s on your provider. And this is true.

Estimating the accurate cost of a cloud database can be far more complicated than many providers would have you believe. In fact, while many used to tout the cloud as cheaper all-around, the current wisdom holds that the cloud is just “differently expensive.” With a comprehensive strategy for comparing databases, you absolutely can cut spending, but you really need to invest the time into breaking down what you’ll be paying for.

This brings us back to on prem databases, where you’re paying for everything. Even with a new understanding of cloud costs, it’s very difficult to argue that on prem databases aren’t the more expensive option. That said, the organizations who pay more for them pay more for a reason. If having full control of your data, security and compliance practices with no middle-man is essential to your business, then there’s a good chance you can justify the additional costs.


Hybrid cloud solutions: the best of both worlds

While there’s an ongoing debate about the primacy of cloud vs. on prem databases, that doesn’t necessarily mean your organization needs to pick a side. In recent years, the hybrid cloud approach has become increasingly popular, uniting the flexibility and cost of the public cloud with the feeling of total control promised by an on prem approach. With a hybrid cloud, you have your public cloud database, managed by a provider of your choice, integrated with a private cloud database, which you can build in-house or access through a hosted private cloud provider.

Databases like Postgres have evolved specifically to help accommodate this DBMS strategy, ensuring that enterprises don’t feel like they’re being torn between two equally compelling options. In many ways, this approach to your databases is the most modern of all—designed to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of your industry dynamically and confidently.


Make the most of your database—on prem or in the cloud

At EDB, we believe your database is king. It’s why we’ve worked so hard over the years to help organizations of all sizes experience what a truly powerful and personalized DBMS can help them accomplish. With Postgres, businesses are quickly learning that their data management strategy doesn’t need to be governed by an either/or choice. Rather, the only thing that should define their ability to make the most of their assets and applications is what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it. 

With diverse solutions like EDB Postgres Advanced Server and our new fully managed Postgres cloud solution EDB BigAnimal, we’re helping enterprises elevate themselves from the database up.

At the end of the day, when it comes to on prem vs Cloud, each has its benefits. Let’s find the best solution for you.

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