When it comes to file sharing and storage, the two most common solutions are on-premises and cloud-based services and infrastructure. Today, 60% of all corporate data resides in the cloud (compared to just 30% in 2015).
As cloud adoption accelerates, 54% of enterprises continue to rely on on-premises infrastructure to store and share files. So how do companies decide between the cloud, on-premises servers, or even a hybrid of both? The right solution depends on your unique business needs, as well as how you handle data security.
In this article, we will explore reasons why you might need an on-premises file sharing solution, the downsides of such solutions, and how to enhance file sharing security with WinZip® Enterprise.
Why use on-premises file sharing and storage?
On-premises data centers rely on the infrastructure at your company’s physical location to store and share files. These in-house, on-site resources are owned by the organization and available to its internal end users through a local network.
Purchasing, installing, and maintaining equipment falls to your internal IT department. This also includes creating a security system to protect your physical assets and network. Because the data center is physically connected to the local network, IT teams can monitor and ensure that only approved users and devices can access and share files.
Here are a few reasons why a business might consider on-premises file sharing solutions:
Offline access. Since files are shared through the corporate network, on-premises solutions do not require an internet connection. This means that slow connections and outages won’t disrupt the server’s availability.
Security. Around half of IT decision-makers who store and share files on-premises instead of the cloud do so to protect critical data. You have complete control over security measures, including how, when, and why a user can access the network or hardware.
Regulatory compliance. Organizations that handle sensitive data are subject to various regulatory requirements relating to how data is accessed, used, and stored. On-premises solutions can meet specific security provisions that a cloud solution might not provide.
Downsides of on-premises file sharing solutions
For all the benefits, there are disadvantages when it comes to using an on-premises solution to share and store files. They include:
- File accessibility and mobility
- Security risks
- Costs and scalability
File accessibility and mobility
One key downside, accessibility, became all too apparent in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because on-premises data centers rely on a physical connection to the corporate network, the files are inaccessible to the distributed workforce.
When stay-at-home orders were first issued in March 2020, companies had little time to consider how to adapt the network to accommodate remote work. This significantly impacted business continuity as organizations shifted to cloud adoption in record numbers. For example:
Remote workers experienced connectivity issues as businesses exceeded cloud infrastructure capacities. For example, if there weren’t enough licenses for every user, some users would be unable to connect to the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
Firewall problems also hindered remote file sharing. This is because the process of remote access relies on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) tools, which are blocked by many public networks and corporate firewalls.
Today, 55% of businesses worldwide offer some form of remote or hybrid work. To meet the needs of an evolving workforce, organizations need to enable digital access for off-premises file sharing. This typically requires a third-party solution such as VDI). VDI is a virtualization technology that delivers virtual desktops and applications over a network to end users. This enables offsite employees to access the operating system and its apps as though they were running locally.
Security is a double-edged sword when it comes to on-premises solutions. While organizations have more control over the network and physical infrastructure, employees spend valuable working time installing updates, creating data backups, and maintaining the servers.
With a current global shortage of cybersecurity professionals, many organizations cannot adequately staff their IT teams. The 2021 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that staff shortages have significant impacts on data security. Survey respondents attributed the following consequences to inadequate IT staff:
- System misconfigurations
- Inadequate risk assessment and management
- System patching delays
- Process and procedure oversights
- Reduced awareness of network threats
- Rushed deployments
Banking and finance.The financial industry relies on COBOL, a programming language created in 1959. It is the foundation of 43% of all banking systems, including both ATMs and in-person transactions. Banks spend 70% of their IT budget maintaining legacy systems.
Retail and commercial operations. Retail organizations rely on legacy software in sales terminals and other critical business functions, spending 58% of their IT budget on system maintenance.
Cost and scalability
The total cost of ownership is another drawback of on-premises file sharing solutions. On average, an organization can spend $10–25 million a year on a large data center. The hardware needed to run on-premises solutions is complex and cost-intensive, which also makes it hard to scale as data needs grow.
On-premises file sharing solutions have a fixed resource capacity. If companies need more resources, they have to purchase more servers. At an enterprise level, these hard drives can cost thousands of dollars. Should resource demands decrease, the additional storage capacity won’t be utilized.
To better manage cost concerns, many organizations are no longer building new data center infrastructure. Instead, 62% of companies plan to increase rack density to meet resource requirements. Increasing the density of racks allocates more computing power without expanding the physical space of the on-premises data center.
Is a hybrid solution right for your business?
When it comes to modernizing file sharing and storage, many companies treat the cloud and on-premises solutions as a case of one or the other. However, there’s another option: leveraging the best of both solutions in a hybrid approach.
A hybrid file sharing solution is one that combines elements of cloud-based and on-premises services. This creates a single environment containing on-premises, private, and public cloud resources. By 2025, Gartner predicts that 85% of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises and cloud options.
However, migrating to the cloud is not always a straightforward process. For example, many organizations rely on legacy systems. These systems are outdated, expensive to run, but are also critical to supporting business operations and may be highly customized to meet an organization’s specific needs.
Modernizing a legacy system is no small feat—you either invest the time and money in building new software or replacing it with a cloud solution. The more complex and outdated a legacy system is, the greater the possibility of migration challenges.
Files containing highly sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), can be stored on a server on-premises. Less critical resources, for example, public website content, can be routed to the cloud.
Enhance your file sharing security with WinZip Enterprise
No matter if your solutions are on-premises or in the cloud, you must protect your data against unauthorized access and loss. As files are shared between the server and an end-user’s device, they are vulnerable to attacks.
While an on-premises solution shares files only to those on the corporate network, employees could introduce risks through shadow IT. Shadow IT is the use of unauthorized tools that are not provided by the company. Most employees (80%) admit to using unapproved solutions.
On-premises file sharing can be made even more secure with WinZip Enterprise. With this highly customizable solution, your IT team has granular control over how files are shared and stored. This makes it easy to implement and enforce policies related to file security, sharing, and backups.