On premise or Cloud?

How should a new workspace be organized? A few thoughts.

When planning a new workspace there are a lot of decisions to be made. One of the most basic decisions is where to put the IT infrastructure of the workspace. You could either buy a server, organize backup and the data infrastructure by yourself and take care of maintenance and the details of that structure or you could simply go into the Cloud. Both strategies are viable options, it depends on the capabilities of team, the details of the workspace and the kind of data that’s going to be stored.

The team’s IT professional

First of all on premise is only really an option if you have an IT professional in your team. You can not call some external help and wait for them to arrive if a printer is failing. Also nobody will be able to understand the needs and requirements of your workspace as good as your own people. The projects must therefor always be at least co-lead by someone from your team. Otherwise suboptimal results are guaranteed. And if you are willing to compromise on features anyway, then the Clouds may be the better option.

If you are the project leader and you are an IT professional, it might be a good idea to have an on premise environment but I’d like to think of one thing: What is your main job in this project (/company)? If it’s not IT then it doesn’t make sense at all that you waste your energy there if the results can be achieved better for a cheaper price. Never underestimate your cost and never forget how you can contribute best to the company.

But if you have an IT professional in your team and you have calculated his time for maintenance and repairs, an on premise environment could be a good idea. Only that way you can decide everything yourself, from the kind of Office product, to the filetypes or even the way you make backups. And it’s the only way to build independent environments.

The team’s skills

Now don’t underestimate the skillset of your team. If you decide to work with Libre Office but your team only knows Microsoft Office, you will have reduced productivity for a while. Also if you decide to run Linux and your Team has only worked on Microsoft devices or vice versa, you are in for some trouble. But as your team will change over the years, the learning curve of your tools might be the most important argument. And right now it’s safe to say that Microsoft products are going to lead that way for a long time. I personally like Office 365 a lot because most people already have most of the necessary skills and only a few specifics need to be learned. But that might be a different situation for you and your team in your industry.

The particulars of the workspace

Actually putting something like a disaster management office into the Cloud is like having your emergency kit on the grill pan of your car. If you work with anything that is considered a critical infrastructure, you must think differently. Which services will you need to be able to provide even during a power outage? Of your customers are in the area of critical infrastructure, will they need your assistance in case of a disaster and how can you guarantee to be able to deliver? Only on premise can solve that. Also your workspace might be near an off grid area or an area where power outage is a constant companion or the internet connection is as reliable as a telephone connection on a German highway, you might want to have your workspace organized on premise.

Anybody handling disasters themselves should obviously be out of the Cloud. As should politicians be. The Cloud services are rendered mostly by a few big american companies. Even the smaller providers tend to use the tech giants services as backups or to complete their own service catalogs. Now as we already know, these companies aren’t neutral and already stated they don’t want to be. Also the US law grants access to the US Government at any time. And since 2016 we can safely say that nobody knows, who will be elected next by the Americans. You can like that or hate that but if that is a problem for your project, then you’r project doesn’t belong into the Cloud.

The data

Some data has specific rules or laws applied to. If you are working with customers from specific industries like banking, healthcare or again, critical infrastructures, you might have special requirements that might not be met by all Cloud providers. You need to check that in advance. Even the userdata if it is very specific personal data will have requirements like the GDPR of the EU or the California Privacy and Protection Law (CPP). Also we are expecting more of these kinds of laws soon. But whether you go into the Cloud or not, you must know these and be able to cope with the requirements. Sometime soon it might even be safer to use a certified Cloud provider to make sure you fulfill all requirements.

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