On-premises vs. Cloud – Which Is Better for Running Databases?

Undoubtedly, cloud platforms are the standard choice for IT infrastructure for organizations today. As a result, cloud database deployment has grown rapidly over the years. But the dilemma over choosing an on-premises vs. cloud database platform for data-driven applications remains intact.

While both architectures have their benefits, there are potential drawbacks, too, pertaining to configuration, control, and cost considerations. So, choosing the cloud over on-premises for running databases and vice versa requires due diligence.

In this article, we will review

  • What do you mean by On-premises vs. Cloud Database?
  • The key differences between the two across various factors such as –
    • Deployment
    • Control
    • Security
    • Compliance
    • Mobility
    • Cost
  • When to choose what?

On-premises vs. Cloud Database

Database management is the key concern when choosing a platform. Over time, more and more organizations have migrated their business applications to the cloud. This explains why Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and others have witnessed enormous growth.

In fact, with over 60% of corporate data already stored in the cloud in 2022, almost double the figures since 2015, the usage of cloud databases has tremendously surged.

But is running the database on the cloud a perfect solution? In general, it can be said that an on-premises database is not the trendiest choice for businesses. But its merits can’t be completely warded off. So, how would you choose the right solution? Let’s find out.

Running Database On-Premises

Usually, data management and IT teams are experienced in on-premises systems, and most likely, they are more comfortable with the technology. Since your data is already stored in-house, security is not much of a concern. In addition, data privacy may be ensured depending on user access rights. Besides, there’s the benefit of not letting environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, and network congestion, affect your database.

But to use an on-premises database, organizations must buy and install hardware components and invest in maintenance. Likewise, organizations must also buy open systems, database software as well as allied software tools related to support, security, and monitoring of applications and databases running on them.

Running Database on the Cloud

A cloud database is created, deployed, and accessed in the cloud – public, private, or hybrid. It has similar functions to traditional databases with added cloud computing functionality for flexibility. Users have to install the cloud infrastructure software to implement the database.

In the cloud, the dataset service will be built for access through the cloud platform. It will enable enterprises to host their databases without purchasing dedicated hardware. Users can manage it or hire a service provider. Besides, cloud databases support relational databases like PostgreSQL and MySQL along with NoSQL databases like Apache CouchDB and MongoDB. It is accessible through a vendor-provided API and web interface.

Key Differences


Resources are deployed within the IT infrastructure of the enterprise in an on-premises database environment. Therefore, the onus of maintaining the on-premises solution and all the allied processes is with the enterprise.

There are different types of cloud – private, public, and hybrid. In the public cloud environment, resources are hosted on the service provider’s premises, but enterprises can access them and use them as and when required.


In the case of an on-premises database, enterprises retain data and stay in full control of what is happening to the data. This explains why some of the highly regulated businesses such as healthcare and financial services with additional privacy concerns often prefer to maintain a certain type of data on-premises.

In the cloud environment, especially the public cloud, data ownership might not be as profound as facilitated by the on-premises setting. In fact, data and its encryption keys are with third-party vendors. In the event of downtime or an unforeseen error, users may face data accessibility problems.


Organizations (like banking or financial services institutions) having extra sensitive information can have strict privacy and security policies in an on-premises environment.

In cloud environments, security can be a concern. Publicized cloud violations are common, which concerns IT departments worldwide. From employee information to intellectual property theft, security threats cannot be ignored.

However, on the flip side, cloud database security control capabilities could also exceed an organization’s own. For instance, businesses have the choice of either running their own database on the cloud or utilizing cloud database services (DBaaS) offered by vendors. Such services are often powered by robust security controls (even compliance and audit features) that help make the database safe and secure.


Regulatory control is a part of the day-to-day operations of businesses, irrespective of the industry. For instance, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have guidelines around the accessibility of student records along with other industry and government regulations. Companies subjected to these regulations should always be compliant and aware of their data location.

Enterprises choosing to move to the cloud should perform due diligence to make sure that the third-party provider is compliant with various regulatory mandates that exist within the industry. It is very important to secure the sensitive data of partners, customers, and employees.


On-premises databases can be remotely accessed, but it requires third-party support for accessing mobile devices and solutions. This further increases the risks of communication and security failures. As such, many security measures should be in place when employees access company files on their personal devices.

In cloud systems, companies should have an internet connection for accessing data using mobile devices. Flexibility and mobility are strong features here. This facilitates employees to function from anywhere, which leads to better engagement.


Setting up an on-premises database may require extensive effort and investment. Purchasing additional processes for the infrastructure further compounds the problem. Not to forget that the operational and maintenance costs are ongoing.

Cloud databases, on the other hand, are more cost-effective, typically for small-sized companies. Setting it up is cheaper, and the run-time is much faster. Companies must pay a subscription fee and need not worry about maintenance and updates.

Final Word

As both on-premises and cloud databases have their unique pros and cons, the choice depends entirely on the business requirements.

At Heptagon, we can guide you in making the right choice depending on the type of your business and the crucial parameters that dictate the scope of work. Contact us to learn more!

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