Marketers have helped shape how people think of cloud technology, almost as a magic solution to any server or data-hosting scenario. The cloud often delivers on such claims, and in many cases, it does provide a better alternative to traditional systems. However, it doesn’t solve every IT problem, says Bryce Tatham, general manager of business development at Sithabile Technology Services. 

 Too good to be true 

 The cloud era has been great for many reasons, enlightening people about the complex and bespoke side of technology and the principle of looking at business requirements first. If done wrong, technology becomes very expensive and underwhelming. 

 Up in the air 

 On paper, throwing all your back-ups into the cloud is cheaper and more accessible, without the need to own or run the underlying infrastructure.  

Bryce Tatham, general manager of business development at Sithabile Technology Services.

But reality disagrees:  

  • Cloud data costs can skyrocket, especially when moving data away from a public cloud.  
  • Accessibility is dampened by latency.  
  • The higher reliance on external networks creates cybercrime risks. 
  • Sometimes, you want to have a hand in the systems that run your data. 

 Cloud vs on-premises 

 “Cloud” back-ups typically mean using a public cloud provider, and “on-premises” back-ups can be at a business but also in a third-party data centre, often using private cloud technology controlled by the business.  

 “They tend to use the same modern back-up technologies. The difference is about the back-up strategy, cost, access, skills and legislation,” says Tatham. 

 5 key considerations 

  1. Back-up strategy: Not all data is the same. Some can be archived while other data needs to always be available. This difference informs the back-up strategy.
  2. Cost: The cost for back-ups depends on the type of data and its access requirements.  
  • Cloud storage may seem cheaper, but its costs can become complex and hard to control.  
  • It’s often cheaper to use local tape storage for cold archives of data. 
  • On-premises storage has additional skills and infrastructure costs, but these can be balanced through the value of access. 


  1. Access: Data is not of much use if there isn’t timely access and there is no clear winner about which option is faster. Moving large volumes of data to or from a public cloud data centre abroad can cause delays, so using local public cloud servers is faster. One must ensure that the correct data is on the right servers. 
  2. Skills: 
  • Since public cloud systems are from third parties, most companies that use these for back-ups work with partners and their skilled employees – a significant cost saving, although it also means heavy reliance on third parties. 
  • On-premises systems require in-house skills, which can be expensive depending on the business needs.  
  • Smaller companies tend to prefer the cloud, while larger companies blend the two options. 


  1. Legislation: Regulations govern some data types to protect personal information, safeguard tax records or cover various other legal requirements based on a company’s size, sector and geographic operations. On-premises data back-ups provide a level of control to manage legal risks. Public cloud services can cater for legislation, but it’s a complicated exercise and requires close reading of service contracts covering liabilities.  


Hybrid solutions 

 Companies often opt for a hybrid back-up strategy that blends different public cloud and on-premises options. This is the mature approach – these organisations looked at their requirements and chose appropriate back-up locations for different data needs.  

 Storage experts such as Sithabile Technology Services (STS) deal with all the varieties of data back-ups, helping clients to develop their back-up strategy and phase in back-ups to be effective, manageable and strategic.  

Issue: Where to store back-ups – cloud or on-premises?  

Solution: It’s not a zero-sum choice. Use both, and with the support of an expert, use them well. 


For more information, contact Sithabile Technology Services: 

Tel: +27 11 848 7400 



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