There’s one question that has plagued IT departments for years: should we move to the cloud or stay on-premise?

For a long time, the debate focused on which deployment method was better. Cloud was more flexible, agile and had lower ongoing maintenance costs, while on-premise was reliable, familiar and perceived to be more secure.

Management teams spent hours weighing up the pros and cons of cloud and on-premise. With no apparent frontrunner, some decided to move to the cloud. Others chose to stay on-premise.

However, I’ve noticed that the nature of the debate is changing. As more and more functionality is deployed to the cloud first, the argument is no longer about whether cloud is better than on-premise. It’s about what are the reasons you need to stay on-premise and if there aren’t any good ones why haven’t yet made the switch to the cloud.

There are plenty of factors influencing this shift. Here are my top five reasons why it’s time to stop arguing about cloud versus on-premise.

1. Cloud spending is on the rise

Enterprises have a reputation for being slow to respond to new technologies. But when it comes to the cloud, they’re catching up, and fast.

Up to 90 per cent of enterprises plan to increase or maintain cloud spending this year, according to research firm Clutch. Goldman Sachs also predicts cloud spending to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 30 per cent from 2013 through until 2018. That’s compared to five per cent growth for overall enterprise IT. With enterprise cloud spending on the rise, it is clear that the cloud isn’t a fad. As time goes by, more and more organisations are recognising its value as a flexible, agile and cost-effective business tool.

2. Corporate attitudes are shifting

Senior management teams are talking about cloud in a new way. Except for those in industries with strict regulatory requirements, most now acknowledge they will eventually move their applications to the cloud.

In my experience, many have stopped weighing up the pros and cons of cloud versus on-premise.

They know cloud is the way forward. The only challenge is figuring out how to get there. Many are looking to hybrid deployments (a combination of on-premise and cloud) to streamline the transition.

3. There are fewer barriers to moving to the cloud

In the past, many organisations couldn’t choose between on-premise and cloud. They had to stay on-premise because of compliance issues, regulatory requirements and security concerns.

However, these barriers are disappearing. Governments are moving with the times. The Australian Government was making calls for the public sector to adopt a cloud-first strategy as early as 2013. It has since updated its rhetoric to become more cloud-friendly.

Cloud vendors are also offering more services that meet regulatory and compliance requirements. For example, Microsoft opened two Australian data centres to keep cloud data on local soil.

4. Leading software vendors are going cloud-first

Even if you want to keep applications on-premise forever, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Software vendors aren’t building new on-premise platforms. Similarly, new businesses are less likely to invest in on-premise solutions. What’s more, innovation is increasingly taking place in the cloud. Take Microsoft as an example. While it offers on-premise and cloud versions of many products (i.e. the latest SharePoint, Dynamics GP and even Dynamics AX releases), major product developments are rolled out to cloud users well before they’re released in on-premise versions.

5. Organisations are losing on-premise expertise

People with the skills to manage on-premise legacy systems are leaving the workforce. And they’re taking their expertise with them. Their replacements aren’t up to speed with operating decades-old systems, and they have little incentive to learn. (Why spend time learning a system that is basically already obsolete?) This increases salaries and makes recruitment expensive and time-consuming.

What now?

A few years ago, consultants like me needed to make a strong argument to convince organisations to move to the cloud. These days, it’s a different story. As enterprise cloud spending increases, regulatory requirements evolve and cloud technologies become more secure, organisations no longer need to be persuaded of the benefits of the cloud.

Instead, those that aren’t willing to move with the times must make a compelling case to stay on-premise. Businesses operate in a competitive environment, and those that cling to familiar but inflexible technologies risk being left behind.

Does your organisation’s argument for staying on-premise hold up? To find out how simple cloud migration can be, download our cloud migration guide today

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