What The Data Says In The On-Prem Vs. Cloud Debate

There have been a laundry list of growing pains for organizations trying to adapt to the changing work environment that’s been caused by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning in February and March of this year. Along with disrupted supply chains and uncertainty over the future of revenue and expenses, companies and large organizations had to move to a remote work arrangement in a hurry. That meant putting far greater demand on whatever online collaboration capabilities were in place, and taking the steps to keep video calls running so business could continue in as close to a normal circumstance as possible.

As we’ve looked at customer data from the initial weeks after the big shift to working from home began, we see clearly the difference in performance for those with on-premises or hybrid systems to handle remote video and collaboration, versus what was delivered for cloud-only users.

Going in, on-prem solutions already had far better performance in terms of call quality, with 2 percent of all calls having bad quality compared to 8 percent for cloud users. That quality gap grew considerably from March into mid-April, which was when shelter in place restrictions across much of the U.S. and in other countries necessitated increased use of unified communications solutions.

That demand growth placed a strain on both customer segments, but cloud users have had to deal with a far greater number of poor calls, with 18 percent classified as “bad” compared to only 4 percent for on-prem and hybrid users.


A Question Of Control

Matt Stevenson, senior solutions engineer for Vyopta, said cloud-based providers have been a quick fix for many organizations looking for a way to increase capabilities and keep up with the demand caused by large portions of the workforce working from home. But he said there’s usually a price that comes with that convenience.

While cloud companies like Zoom mean companies don’t have to plan out and spend on the physical infrastructure of an in-house system, there are service and quality issues that are inherent in those kinds of arrangements.

“When you move to completely cloud you give up a lot of control, and a lot of visibility. You gain the ability to not have to worry about all of the components but then you lose that other stuff on the other side,” he said. “When you have on-premise availability of systems and you control all the network there are some things you can do and say, ‘Oh the problem is here’ and you can identify where a problem is and fix it. When we’re in cloud it can be the case that you know you’re having a problem, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.”


Making The On-Prem Investment

In an April webinar featuring Vyopta customers in the health care sector, Gary Blumberg, video services manager for Hartford HealthCare, said the quality difference between the on-prem versus cloud solutions has made it worth the investment to build and grow Hartford’s on-prem system.

With April usage on track for nearly 9 million total minutes of online collaboration, and up to 1,400 calls taking place concurrently, he said the decision to recently expand system capacity by 600 percent was easy. For Hartford, consistent call quality is what matters.

“Call me old school, but I’m a big fan of on-prem deployments. One of the reasons is if you’re having calls from within the network, you’re not at the mercy of the public Internet,” he said. “Theoretically if you’re going to multi-tenant cloud versus the private cloud you now have both legs at the mercy of the public Internet. So we could say you have a 50 percent chance of it being better this way from the get-go. We can look at stats and… I wish I could tell people ‘It’s your living room wifi. Walk into your kitchen.’”

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vyopta is currently offering a free trial to help IT teams support massive expansion in remote work.

Chad Swiatecki

Chad Swiatecki is a business writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, New York Daily News, Austin Business Journal, Austin American-Statesman and many other print and online publications. He lives in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Find him online on LinkedIn.