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The biggest difference between server and cloud

Thinking of migrating? Read this first.

We’re more than a decade into the SaaS revolution, and again, the game is changing.

The first SaaS applications were designed to complement and augment existing on-premise applications. But in a recent report entitled Benchmark Your Enterprise Cloud Adoption, Forrester now predicts that the next generation of SaaS products will finally replace on-premise systems. 

According to the report, cloud is no longer a differentiator, but rather a strategic requirement for long-term success. SaaS applications are now standard, business-critical tools – not just an alternative hosting option for software. SaaS products are fundamentally different from on-prem solutions, partially because their administration and infrastructure management is handled by the application vendor, increasing the capacity of internal IT teams to focus more strategically.  

The Forrester outlook is clear: with the world moving to majority cloud products, IT teams need to examine their ecosystems to determine where their efforts are best spent, and which SaaS vendors can extend IT team capacity by augmenting operational tasks.

At Atlassian, we’ve seen first-hand how the power of cloud can transform entire industries from the inside out. In fact, 90 percent of our new customers choose our cloud, and we have more than 125,000 cloud customers – and counting. At the same time, we understand that every company is moving at its own pace on their journey to cloud, and no matter where you are in that journey, we have a solution that will meet you where you are.

In this post, we’ll go over the primary considerations you should make when evaluating if cloud or server is best for your organization.

Server vs. Cloud: which is right for your team?

Our cloud and server products help teams accomplish the same things in the end – better collaboration and project transparency – but it’s important to recognize that they’re built with different codebases, features, and benefits.  

Let’s get into some of the key distinctions between server and cloud, and what to evaluate if you’re considering a deployment change.

Server: best for data locality and control

Many teams choose self-managed server deployments because they prefer full control over their data and hosting infrastructure. Specifically, server products are deployed on internal machines behind your firewall. This is especially important for organizations that require strict data localization, where information must be kept within a local country or region. In Australia, for example, health data must be kept within the country. We also find some customers require an “air wall,” or the ability to physically isolate their machines from any outside network. This is most common in government and financial industries, such as stock exchanges. 

With server, you have the ability to control the scheduling, installation, and testing of new software updates. This is beneficial for organizations that need to control the cadence of updates against any potential downtime that could impact teams and projects. This also helps them control when new features are introduced and avoid unexpected changes. And while all updates come with some downtime (often outside of working hours) we provide guides that can help minimize this disruption.

Teams with business imperatives – and the bandwidth – to store, control, and maintain their data locally are best suited for the self-managed versions of our products.

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Looking for full control but want to avoid on-premise deployments? Atlassian Data Center can be hosted via AWS or similar providers and is designed to support the unique and complex requirements of enterprise organizations.

Other benefits of server include the ability to choose your own domain (anything.acme.com), 2,500+ Marketplace apps, and the ability to purchase seats for an unlimited number of users. 

Atlassian server licenses are purchased upfront at full cost, and include 12 months of maintenance. After that, maintenance plans must be purchased in order to receive basic support and version updates.

Cloud: best for minimizing IT workload

Alternatively, cloud products are designed to help teams get up and running quickly, with limited administrative overhead. In cloud, data storage, servers, and maintenance are managed for you to help lower setup costs and improve productivity. Updates are also rolled out automatically in small feature-flagged releases, so you always have the latest features, bug fixes, and security patches – without downtime or disruption to your team. 

Cloud is also more than a deployment option, it’s software as a service. This means you receive a variety of ongoing benefits in partnership with your software vendor as part of your subscription cost. 

At Atlassian, this includes:

Our cloud products also include several top-requested features that are unavailable on server versions, including Jira roadmaps, Confluence analytics, improved notifications, and more. Additionally, you get access to 1,000+ Marketplace apps and integrations, which provide seamless in-app experiences across hundreds of leading SaaS applications. 

Atlassian cloud licenses are purchased on a tiered or per-user basis, so you only pay for what you use. Cloud subscriptions also include access to new features as soon as they are available, bug fixes, support, and more. 

Teams who want industry-leading security, performance, and features right out of the box with limited administrative overhead should choose cloud.

Building for your future

Whatever you choose, our commitment is to build tools for every team. If you’re considering a server to cloud migration, we can help. The Cloud Migration Center is a central hub to connect you with our dedicated support specialists, migration resources, and other planning guides to ensure your success, including a free extended cloud trial for existing server customers.

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