The days of making marketing decisions based on a hunch are slowly coming to a close. To keep up with competitors, marketing teams need a data stack that can sort through mountains of data to deliver insights. It’s no easy task finding the right data stack to fit your needs, and one major challenge we hear again and again is that implementing these technologies is time-consuming, complex, and confusing.
Implementing the right data stack to give you a competitive advantage can be difficult, and there are lots of factors to consider here. One big consideration that’s worth giving some thought to is whether to choose an onsite implementation or a cloud implementation.
In this article, we’ll outline the basics of cloud and onsite implementation and examine the differences between the two. We’ll also explore the benefits and drawbacks of each, as well as the factors you should consider when choosing the right solution for your marketing reporting stack.
What is cloud implementation of a data stack?
Cloud implementation involves accessing software and data through the internet, with all infrastructure and maintenance outsourced to a third-party Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider. This approach requires no upfront capital investment and offers scalability, flexibility, and accessibility.
What is onsite implementation of a data stack?
Onsite implementation involves installing software on your local servers and managing all aspects of your system in-house. While this approach offers greater control and customization options, it requires a significant investment in hardware, software, and IT personnel.
What are the benefits of cloud Vs. onsite implementation?
The main difference between these two approaches is the location and control of the IT infrastructure.
Onsite implementation offers greater control over data and infrastructure, customization options, and compliance with internal regulations and security requirements. However, it requires significant upfront investment and ongoing maintenance costs, specialized IT expertise, and limited scalability. Not to mention adequate space to house and protect the IT equipment; this could be an air-cooled room, an entire floor, or even a dedicated building on the campus.
Cloud implementation, on the other hand, outsources infrastructure and maintenance to third-party providers, reducing upfront costs and offering flexibility and scalability.
Benefits of onsite implementation
Drawbacks of onsite implementation
Cloud implementation offers low upfront costs, scalability, flexibility, and accessibility, reducing the need for in-house IT expertise. However, it requires dependency on the provider's infrastructure and service availability, raises concerns around data privacy and security, and offers less customization and control over infrastructure. There are a number of cloud providers to choose from, each has their own unique features and technologies.
Benefits of cloud implementation
Drawbacks of cloud implementation
Why does cloud Vs. onsite implementation matter for marketers?
If you want a marketing reporting stack that’s going to meet your business’s specific needs then you need to understand the differences and limitations of each implementation style.
Here are a few variables to consider, and some questions you should ask yourself to make sure you choose the right implementation.
Consider how often you pull data from the platforms you use, how large those data fetches are, and how this could grow in the future. Over the course of months, or years, will your existing onsite IT resources continue to have the performance needed to support external platform APIs in the timely manner you need the data? Or will your data sources and frequency grow at a rate where it makes sense to have a cloud provider that elastically expands with you as the business grows?
Increased data fetching, data sources, and marketing activity go hand in hand with increased storage. Reporting in the modern data stack comes in gigabytes, which turns quickly into terabytes over a long period — and this is before backups or redundancy is taken into account. Does your onsite IT infrastructure provide sufficient storage for your projected rolling period of data in the correct storage format, or are your data needs fluid in terms of volume and storage technology that a cloud provider can be flexible with?
If a portion of your budget covers the infrastructure required for marketing activities, does it work for you to plan this out at the start of the year as a capex (capital expenditure) model and make sure there are enough IT resources available until budget renewal? Or does it work to pay for the infrastructure monthly as an opex (operating expense) model and push out or pull back resource needs as required? There is always a risk of a surprise monthly bill of course, if you don’t monitor your cloud provider usage closely!
Backup and Redundancy:
Unless your data expires quickly or is of really low importance, you will want to have a backup and redundancy plan in place. Sufficient IT infrastructure is needed to support such a plan with variables like data volume and required backup period impacting the size of these available resources. An onsite implementation will need to have adequate storage space for the backups primarily, as well as automated procedures to perform the backups and any restoration needed from a period of outage. These procedures usually require IT expertise and careful planning. Cloud implementation out of the box generally provides a default backup of any data medium you use, your own business procedures can be built on top of this to suit with scaling and flexibility in mind. The subscription cost of your backup procedures will correlate to how much data you back up and how quickly you may need to restore it. This topic needs to be carefully considered alongside Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective goals when selecting the implementation that is right for your business.
Legal and Privacy laws:
Is any of your data sensitive or does it reside in a region where regulations apply, such as GDPR? EU personal data, for example, must be stored within the EU as set out by GDPR and California has its own CCPA statute to provide similar protection for consumer data. If you’re a global business, having one single location for your IT infrastructure might not suffice, and it could limit your future growth. So, it might make more business sense to set up an onsite location in another part of the world or look to a cloud provider that has a suitable region for you to deploy within.
Do you need access to your data on the move? Accessing your IT infrastructure when on campus is easy, but in an ever-evolving world of flexible and remote working is it just as easy to access it while not in the office? Accessing your onsite infrastructure is of course possible but it requires firewalls, VPNs, and bandwidth to make it happen securely. Cloud providers are already on the internet, so you usually find most if not all of their features and functions are designed with remote accessibility in mind.
Technology is ever-evolving. Some of us want to be at the forefront of features and functionality while some of us want to stick with what’s proven and widely adopted. Advancements in onsite infrastructure tend to move at a slow rate and this comes down to migration capabilities, space, cost, expertise, and legacy support. But if it works for your needs then why change it? Cloud providers are always releasing new features and functionality, they tend to be the creators and innovators in new technology in this field which may eventually pass down to onsite systems, some of this is only available in the cloud however — such as stateless/serverless applications and hybrid storage systems.
Implementation through an integrated data platform
There is one more element to all of this that you should also consider when making these decisions, and that’s cloud implementation through a SaaS platform.
Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms were born and made possible with the age of cloud computing. A SaaS platform is a type of digital platform, and it allows users to connect to and use cloud-based software over the Internet — think of it as one layer above IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).
If it’s a marketing reporting stack you need, then an Integrated Data Platform like Adverity could be the solution to match your vision and more. SaaS platforms take away the pain of having to deploy or set up onsite or in the cloud. We’re already set up with everything in place, with dedicated data connectors, data explorer, and dashboards all hosted on a secure ISO/IEC 27001 certified platform with a cloud provider of your choice and at a known monthly subscription cost, your business can grow at the organic pace it sets with the ability to pivot in strategy, flexibility, and scalability.
Cloud computing has been massively utilized by businesses in the last decade or so and the most recurring themes when it comes to data are the 3 R’s; redundancy, reliability, and resilience.
Both onsite and cloud implementations offer unique advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two depends on a variety of factors. By understanding the basics of each approach, businesses can make informed decisions about which one best suits their needs and goals.
For large enterprises and those with the most critical of business operations, the thought of loss or outage is a risk that should be minimized to the utmost and this is why we’re now seeing businesses seeking multi-cloud provider redundancy setups or solutions, or if they’re big enough players, even setting up their own cloud computing operation.
Whether you choose onsite implementation or cloud implementation, it's important to carefully consider the effects of each on your business and choose the one that aligns best with your strategy and values.