Cloud vs Server: Learn the Key Differences and Benefits

When you use a cloud server, you are storing your data in a shared virtual environment. In contrast, the traditional, or on-site, server that is housed on your premises is either managed by your own IT staff or outsourced to another IT provider. So, which is better: cloud or server? This article discusses cloud and on-site servers in detail, including their differences, advantages, and disadvantages. It also presents the ideal use cases for these types of servers.

What Is a Cloud Server?

As the term implies, a cloud server is hosted virtually on the cloud. You are thus sharing space on the server with the other customers of the vendor providing the service. However, this does not mean they can access your data, as cloud servers can be as secure as on-site servers.

When you use a cloud server, you benefit from the economies of scale that a cloud service provides. You pay only for the exact space you used, and since server management is the vendor’s responsibility, you can save on labor and maintenance costs.

Cloud servers are customizable according to your needs. You do not have to pay for idle infrastructure costs in case of low demand. If performance is important to your organization, you can start with a high-end cloud server, scaling down when peak usage is less than your anticipated workloads. You can also get the cheaper options first, scaling up when demand rises.

What Is an On-Site Server?

The typical on-site server is physical hardware located in your own datacenter and maintained by in-house IT personnel. In some cases, the server is hosted in a datacenter by a third-party provider. In the latter case, while you may also have the vendor oversee maintenance, you retain the option of letting your team maintain the server.

An on-site server on either your own premises or in another location can require significant cost investments, particularly since you need to consider future needs and size the server accordingly. With maintenance adding to the cost, the market for on-site servers is typically limited to large businesses and organizations that are subject to strict government regulations and/or with a wide user base. Add strict data-security requirements to the mix and an on-site server becomes necessary.

An on-site server is ideal for applications with intensive input/output (I/0) requirements, such as big data and databases.

What Are the Key Differences between Cloud and On-Site Servers?

The major differences between cloud and on-site servers lie in the areas discussed below:

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Servers?

When considering cloud vs. server, each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For cloud servers, the advantages are:

However, cloud servers also have their disadvantages, including:

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of On-Site Servers?

For on-site servers, the advantages include:

On the other hand, the disadvantages of on-site servers are:

Cloud vs. Local Server – Which Is Better for Your Business?

The choice between getting cloud and on-site servers depends on your requirements. Consider these factors when making your decision.

Performance and Speed

Cloud servers are ready for deployment at any time. You only need to sign up for a plan with a provider, and you will have your servers running shortly, with minimal administrative requirements. The provider oversees your servers so your people do not have to worry about bug fixes and security patches and can focus on more important tasks. You can scale up or down at any time.

With on-site servers, you must expend a considerable amount of effort from the start, from discussing your requirements with your IT team to acquiring the actual servers and setting them up in the agreed locations. Once deployed, your team continues to manage the servers to ensure that they are up to date and are running at optimal performance.


Due to stiff competition, cloud service providers are innovating constantly so that they can offer better and more attractively priced services to existing clientele and potential customers. Your organization benefits when your cloud servers get these innovations.

With on-site servers, your teams can certainly work on innovations internally, but these can take them away from their main tasks. Moreover, innovations remain a management prerogative.

Maintenance and Security

The cloud services from your vendor already include maintenance and security, which are undergoing constant improvement to ensure that your data is secure. While you certainly pay for these services, they can more than makeup for the cost in terms of better productivity among your staff.

With an on-site server, your in-house team or outsourced vendor oversees maintenance and security.

Control and Customization

You should be prepared to give up some control if you choose a cloud server. You also need to wait for your vendor to implement better features on the server, although to their credit, CSPs are often ahead in this regard, trying to best each other in implementing newer features and services to attract more customers.

In contrast, you have complete control over an on-site server. You can also implement the features you need now without waiting for an external party if you have the budget to do so and management gives their approval.

Flexible Cloud Deployment Models with Parallels RAS

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) helps deploy your virtual applications and virtual desktops anywhere, including your premises, the public cloud, your own hybrid cloud, and even hyperconverged infrastructures.

Parallels RAS offers multi-cloud support with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), among other service providers. Cloud deployment models that utilize a mixture of Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDSHs), hypervisors, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) are also supported. Parallels RAS comes with a single console that helps with load balancing and scaling your applications and desktops. It also offers cloud management support via representational state transfer application programming interface (REST API) and PowerShell.

Parallels RAS offers support for hybrid cloud deployment, which combines workloads in public and private clouds. This means that you can use Parallels RAS to scale up your on-site servers to the public cloud when required, allowing for better flexibility and security, among other benefits.

See how you can use Parallels RAS in a hybrid cloud environment!

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