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The Pros and Cons of Self-Hosting vs. Cloud Computing: 7 Factors You Need to Consider

By Matt Minor on March 28, 2023

Buying and using software is an essential part of creating digital projects, and there are many tools today that are offered both on-premises and in the cloud.

When you’re looking for a solution to whatever problem you’re trying to solve – say a headless CMS solution, or the backend for creating a digital application – one of the first decisions you have to make is whether to go with the cloud version or host it yourself on your own infrastructure.

But why would I pay someone to do something I can do for myself? Why would you pay the vendor a fee to host it on their servers when you can host it on your own without spending a dime?

It seems like a no-brainer, but there are hidden costs to self-hosting that may change the way you think about it. Let’s take a closer look.

The Hidden Costs of Self-Hosting

As it turns out, there are hidden costs to self-hosting software – even “free” software – that many don’t account for when making the decision whether to self-host or go with a cloud-based service.

A complex software platform has many points of failure, and if it goes down, it can have a significant impact on business operations. It’s a lot more common than you might think:

According to Veeam’s 2022 Data Protection Report, 40% – or 2 out of 5 servers – had at least one or more outages over the past 12 months. The most common causes are a breakdown of infrastructure or software, either from cyberattacks or user error.

If you’re using an on-premises version of a tool that your project depends on, and that tool breaks, the impact on your users – and your reputation – can be devastating.

Security is another problem. While most people assume that self-hosted software is more secure than cloud-based software, that’s not always the case. In fact, cloud-based solutions are typically more secure, because backups, updates and patches are automated and delivered as part of the service.

If you’re self-hosting, your staff has to stay current with patches and software updates and manually implement them. If they forget or fall behind, there may be vulnerabilities in your software that open the door for an attack.

Ever had an executive call you on a weekend and tell you the site is down? A DDoS attack can happen in the middle of the night – unless you have someone monitoring the system 24/7, you’re at risk.

Diving Deeper into Costs

Say you’re self-hosting Directus. You will need a server, which you could rent from DigitalOcean for about $4/month. That’s $48 per year. Cheap, right? But wait…

Say you prefer to have a dedicated server instead of a shared resource. That’s going to cost you $63/month or $756/year. You’ll get 8 GB memory and 25 GB storage, which may be plenty at first. But what if your business expands, and you need to add servers? Say over the course of six months, you add 2 more. Now you’re up to more than $2000/year.

The costs don’t stop there. Backups require additional storage. Multiple servers may require a load balancer. And if you’re running reports, you’ll need an email server, which will be an additional cost. When all is said and done, you could be spending $200 or more per month to self-host Directus in a production-grade environment.

That may still sound do-able – but how valuable is your time? How many hours will you spend maintaining the environment, rolling out updates and patches, troubleshooting issues and downtime, or mitigating security risks? Will you have to hire someone to do that for you? How much will that cost?

Making the Move to Cloud Infrastructure

For a predictable monthly subscription fee, a cloud-based offering provides access to the full version of the software you need, without requiring you to set up a server, power the server, install and maintain the software, manage updates, or set up data backups.

If there’s an update or security patch that’s needed, you receive it automatically. And, since the software is hosted on the vendor’s infrastructure, you can scale up or down as needed, quickly and easily, without having to invest in setting up additional servers on-site.

Cloud-based services are backed by redundancy and support, and service-level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee continued operations. That’s the SaaS vendor’s job – ensuring customers always have access to the software services they’re using – and they take it very seriously. Their business depends on it!

Finally, since the vendor takes care of all the maintenance, updates, backups and troubleshooting, you’ll have more time to focus on building and improving your app and providing an exceptional experience to your users.

So, to summarize, the benefits of moving to the cloud include:

  1. Cost savings

  2. Automated backups

  3. Automated updates and patches

  4. Better security

  5. Instant scalability

  6. Guaranteed availability

  7. More time to focus on perfecting and promoting your project

It’s no wonder 48% of businesses are storing their most important data in the cloud today, and as of 2022, 60% of all corporate data is in the cloud.

Flexera reporting that 37% of organizations surveyed spent $12 million or more, and 42% say moving on-premises software to SaaS was a top cloud initiative in 2022.

Directus Cloud for Speed, Reliability, Security and Cost Savings

Providing service-based access to the market’s first and only open data platform, Directus Cloud is built on a proven backend infrastructure and delivers lightning-fast performance. The Directus Cloud offering enables all levels of customers, from a growing startup to a large enterprise to create amazing digital projects without delay.

Directus offers a tiered pricing model for our cloud-based service, depending on your needs. Check out our Cloud pricing page and see how you can take advantage of 24/7 monitoring, asset storage, a Global CDN, data encryption services and backups and more, starting at just $99/month.

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