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A guide to deployment models: Self-hosted, cloud, and air-gapped

 

The days when every service was managed from a single server or location are long gone. When organizations build software and services, they have a variety of options depending on their budget, infrastructure, and security needs. Now teams can build software across a broad network of machines and software managed either by their own staff or external services.

What tools to use is a complex question and there is no one-size-fits-all for every organization.

Today, we’ve put together some analysis of the various pros and cons of some common cloud and on-premise options. Understanding the options for your team can help you make the right choice and save money and time in the long term.

Self-hosted

With self-hosted software, the software is usually located and operated within the organization's computing hardware. Self-hosted deployments are set up and maintained by the organization on its own network.

Pros

Full control: By keeping everything in-house, organizations can retain greater control of their tech assets. This level of control can be especially important in highly regulated industries where this type of control is required. The level of security is entirely dependent on your own internal security protocols.

Initial cost: Depending on the size of deployment, an on-premise solution can be cheaper than a private cloud solution, especially in the short term.

Complexity: While cloud is the most sleek and modern deployment model, it can actually cause an increase in complexity with the simple fact that managing a hybrid infrastructure has more moving parts especially when it comes to networking and routing when compared to a co-located strategy. Organizations with a robust DevOps infrastructure that are used to deploying in-house may find it easier to continue adding self-hosted solutions. Deploying to the cloud carries benefits but isn't a cure-all. It requires careful consideration for each unique environment.

Cons

Human capital requirements: Self-hosted solutions require dedicated IT support year-round to ensure the software is running properly.

Total cost of ownership (TCO): Often the expenses associated with a self-hosted solution result in a higher TCO than cloud offerings. Considerations on TCO range from server space, to upgrades, maintenance, patches, and even natural disasters. This can end up costing an organization in labor and budget.

Scalability: Self-hosted systems typically struggle to scale as dynamically, quickly, and easily as a cloud solution, which has the potential to hinder a team’s speed of growth. Choosing self-hosted typically means knowing the organization's needs over a projected time frame within reason before it’s too late.

Cloud

Cloud deployments consist of a remote network of servers that are connected together and used to store, process, and manage data remotely. Unlike an on-premise or disconnected deployment, these are often managed by a third party.

Pros

TCO savings: Because cloud providers typically offer a pay-as-you-scale model and in-built management of infrastructure, organizations can save money on hardware, maintenance, and other upfront costs.

Scalability: Cloud native systems are highly elastic and scalable, which means that organizations can easily increase or decrease their usage as needed. This can be especially useful for those that experience fluctuating demand for their services.

Accessibility: With a public cloud system, users can access their data and applications from any device with an internet connection. This can be especially useful for remote teams or organizations with employees in different locations.

Security: Many cloud providers make security a core part of their business and offer in-built advanced security measures to protect their customers' data, which, due to their focus and expertise, can be more secure than maintaining these measures on-premises. 

Faster access to innovation: Because cloud providers are responsible for maintaining and updating their systems, organizations that use the cloud can take advantage of new features and innovations without having to invest time or resources.

Cons

Limited customization: A multi-tenant solution provides a published set of features and capabilities for all users and this lessens the room for customization that’s found in a single-tenant system. This can be a problem for organizations with very specific requirements or unique needs.

Security concerns: Some organizations may have concerns about the security of a multi-tenant system, as they are sharing the same instance of the software with other customers.  These concerns are valid insofar as doing adequate research into your providers security measures. Any cloud service worth their salt has robust security measures in place to keep your data plenty safe. Choosing the right provider and service can ensure a more secure cloud.

Integration - Although this is constantly improving, cloud services often don’t have the same connections that self-hosted servers have.  This is especially true for some compliance standards and legacy systems that do not have cloud offerings (e.g.mainframes)

Public cloud vs. private cloud

Cloud computing is the current wave of software delivery, and many services today are offered through varying cloud service models. One of the primary divisions is whether an organization draws from a collective resource pool or gets a specific service commitment (private vs. public).

In a private cloud service model, each customer has their own dedicated instance of the software, This means the customer has complete control over their instance of the software, including the ability to customize it to their specific needs and requirements.

On the other hand, in a public cloud service model, businesses deliver a multi-tenant cloud service where multiple customers share the same instance of the software. You may see this as SaaS, Software as a Service. This means that the software provider is responsible for maintaining and managing the software, which can be more efficient and cost-effective for the customers. 

However, it also means that the customers do not have as much control over the software and may not be able to customize it as much as they would in a single-tenant system. There are some concerns that a multi-tenant solution is less secure; if customers choose a multi-tenant solution from an organization with good security policies, it can be just as secure (if not more so) as a single-tenant deployment. 

Overall, the choice between single and multi-tenant cloud software options depends on the specific needs and priorities of the customer:

  • Private cloud: Single-tenant systems may be more suitable for organizations with very specific requirements or strict security needs.
  • Public cloud: Multi-tenant systems may be a better fit for organizations that want a more cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.

Air-gapped

An air-gapped deployment is exactly what it sounds like. These deployments are cut off from the public internet for privacy and compliance reasons.

These are also referred to as “air gapped,” meaning a clear physical separation to create a private network. This isolation may avoid connections even from networks within the same organization.

Pros

Privacy: Air-gapped environments are hands down the most private and secure deployment model. In a highly regulated industry, organizations can benefit from the iron walls an air-gapped deployment has around data or intellectual property. This helps address both known attacks and theoretical threats.

Compliance requirements: Air-gapped deployments are the only model compatible with air-gapped developer environments.

Cons

Cost: An air-gapped solution will cost teams the most. Due to the additional infrastructure resources required, air-gapped deployments are not the most cost-effective.

Infrastructure and maintenance: Ensure the right infrastructure is in place before buying an air-gapped solution. From server space to compute and administrative resources, there is an additional cost to running an air-gapped deployment.

More questions about deployment models? We’re always happy to chat. Schedule a demo with one of our experts to learn more.

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Written by Crystal Derakhshan

Crystal is a Product Marketing Manager for the Advanced Legal Pack, Container, Cloud, and Disconnected solutions. She is passionate about amplifying the voice of the customer and product positioning. When she's not working on bringing value to the DevSecOps community, she is boxing, cooking, or playing with her dog Mila.