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Cloud Disaster Recovery vs On-Premise: A comparative analysis for print infrastructure

Disaster recovery (DR) solutions are your safety net. They’re an essential aspect of business continuity planning and keep the lights on, figuratively speaking, should the worst happen. And with disaster recovery these days, you have a choice: you can either run it on-premise or in the cloud. Both have their pros and cons, and neither is strictly ‘better’. As with most things, it comes down to your IT infrastructure, your budget, and your appetite for risk.

Whichever way you go, having a disaster recovery plan has never been more important. In 2023, the average cost of a data breach hit a record high of US$4.45 million , and that’s not even factoring in the impact of operational downtime and reputational damage. In fact nearly half of small businesses are unable to survive a disaster, and an additional one in four of those that do will fail within the first year after the crisis.

What’s the difference between cloud and on-premise disaster recovery?

On-premise and cloud disaster recovery are two different ways of mitigating the impact of IT disasters, like high-profile hacks or data destruction. Here’s how they work.

Cloud disaster recovery. In a cloud disaster recovery setup, critical IT systems, applications and data are stored in a remote cloud environment, usually managed by a third-party cloud service provider. If the worst should happen, organizations can run their systems through the provider’s cloud-based infrastructure.

On-premise disaster recovery. On-premise disaster recovery is exactly what it sound like: organizations maintain backup systems and servers on-site, or at a secondary physical location. This usually involves deploying redundant hardware, storage devices, and backup servers in case of disaster.

Cloud disaster recovery: pros and cons

With more and more businesses moving critical backup infrastructure to the cloud, you might think cloud disaster recovery is an automatic choice. But there’s a little more to it than that. Like most tech, it’s got its pros and cons.

PRO: highly secure infrastructure. Cloud service providers usually have strict licensing agreements, which guarantee what’s known as 11 nines of durability (also expressed as 99.999999999% annual durability). It means users can expect an annual data loss of 0.000000001% of objects. In other words, super close to zero. It means you should be able to restore critical systems in the result of a breach, or crash.

PRO: no hardware dependence. This is a big one. Say mission-critical hardware gets compromised. Well, with cloud disaster recovery, that’s not the end of the world because your staff can continue operations via the cloud. This is obviously clutch for business continuity planning.

PRO: no more maintenance. Tired of maintaining your own backup servers? In a cloud-based approach, that’s all handled by the cloud service provider. This often means organizations can scale down their IT maintenance needs, freeing up budget for more mission-critical stuff, like strategic planning. On the flip-side, you do lose some of that granular, on-site control.

CON: internet required. The Achilles heel of all cloud-based systems. For cloud disaster recovery to work, you need a working internet connection. And depending on the nature of the disaster, that’s not always guaranteed. This dependency introduces a single point of failure, which is sort of the opposite of what we’re going for with disaster recovery protocols.

CON: Latency issues. Because cloud disaster recovery relies on your internet connection, it can also be hampered by latency and performance issues. This is especially true for organizations with large datasets, or complex IT environments. It’s not a deal-breaker, necessarily, but definitely something you should bring up with your cloud service provider. There are usually things they can do to mitigate any potential performance issues.

On-premise disaster recovery: pros and cons

Some people prefer the security and peace-of-mind you get from on-premise disaster recovery. And that’s totally fine. Cloud solutions won’t be suitable for everyone. Here are some of the pros and cons of on-premise disaster recovery.

PRO: Zero downtime. Or as close to zero as we can get, at least. Because on-premise disaster recovery uses on-site servers, not to mention lightning-quick NVMe SSDs, direct VM spin up, and granular file-level restore, you can usually get back online very quickly. Often much faster than a cloud-based setup.

PRO: Full control. This is the real selling point of on-premise disaster recovery: it’s managed on-site, and in-house. Organizations can get complete control over their data, which can help with stuff like regulatory compliance (not to mention the peace of mind benefits). With the right setup, you can get great performance, low latency and rapid failover. All good things.

PRO: Seamless integration. On-premise disaster recovery solutions can usually sync smoothly with existing IT infrastructure, which – depending on your server setup – can be a huge bonus. This integration helps facilitate interoperability, data synchronization and centralized management, making business continuity planning much easier.

CON: Up-front cost. There’s two sides to this one. Yes, on-premise backup servers and disaster planning solutions are more expensive than the cloud, but they also come with better long-term ROI. Usually there’s an up-front capital expenditure, and then some ongoing maintenance, as opposed to the cloud-based subscription model. Some organizations value this predictability, as opposed to the variance of pay-as-you-go.

CON: Scalability. On-premise solutions will never be as flexible or scalable as the cloud, and that’s a trade-off all organizations have to consider. Do you value a smoother, faster recovery, or more flexibility? If your organization’s data volumes are growing rapidly, scaling up on-premise solutions can be a massive pain. Not to mention very expensive.

CON: Resilience. If all infrastructure is located on premise, data loss is more likely to occur during a disaster.

Recovery time objective (RTO)

Your recovery time objective is a critical metric when it comes to disaster management and business continuity planning. It refers to the maximum acceptable downtime for recovering a system, should that system fail. In other words: how long till we’re back online?

It’s hard to compare cloud disaster recovery with on-premise in this regard, as your RTO will hinge on all sorts of things – internet speed, latency, server structure, data volumes, cloud provider, the skills of your IT department etc. – but in general, on-premise solutions will give you a faster RTO. This is mostly down to certain factors, like proximity to the recovery servers (they’re right down the hall), direct access to hardware, and lower latency in data retrieval. On-premise solutions usually leverage high-performance networking tech, too, like fiber optic cables, dedicated leased lines, or high-speed LAN connections. All of which facilitate faster data recovery.

However, with best practice requiring backups to be stored in a location that’s geographically distant from your main site, the resultant time to restore can undermine the prospective benefits of having an on-premise disaster recovery plan.

Which one’s right for you?

That’s the big question, and it usually comes down to what your organization values. Do you want maximum control and security? On-premise is probably the way to go, despite the high up-front costs. Do you value flexibility and scalability? Well, cloud disaster recovery is the clear winner there. You need to factor in cost considerations, data security and privacy concerns, latency and performance, and even stuff like vendor lock-in, which can occur when organizations become too dependent on a specific cloud provider.

Ultimate, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to disaster recovery solutions, only what’s right for you.

Want to learn more about PaperCut’s resilient printing infrastructure? You can check out the pros and cons of various disaster recovery solutions over here . Or give us a call to learn more.

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