In house server vs Cloud


For many, the idea of a technology startup includes in-house servers. We have seen them in movies like Silicon Valley where a bunch of nerds host their own server. Pretty cool isn’t it ?

For most of us freelance engineers though, the choice is pretty clear. In fact, the cloud is the de-facto hosting choice for individuals and small businesses. We do not usually waste time deciding between the two.

Recently though, as CTO of a startup, I was faced to choose between in-house servers and the cloud.

We initially thought of having our own office servers. The idea seemed pretty cool. We wanted total control over our data. In addition, we enjoy the whole startup process. Thus, as we thought, in-house servers would make us feel more immersed in the whole startup lifestyle.

Finally, the choice came down to a benefit-vs-cost analysis. Outweighing the pros and cons, we decided to use the cloud instead. In our analysis, we found that unless you are a big-data company dealing with huge sets of user information, you would better use the Cloud. Indeed, startups with little to no funds, should never consider in-house servers.

Among the many costs of owning an in-house server are the costs of redundancy.


Redundancy is the first reason not to choose an in-house server. First of all, what is redundancy ? It is the idea of using multiple servers to host the same version of an application in case one server is down. So, instead of owning one server for an application, you would rather have two at least. That way, when your main server is down, another one takes over.

This issue of redundancy doubles your initial cost of hardware. You would have to buy at least 2-sets of any hardware piece.


Initially in-house servers cost more. Redundancy is one reason why . In fact, purchase of hardware for your on-premise server is at least 10 times higher than your monthly cloud hosting fee. The cloud has indeed come a long way thanks to economies of scales.

Not only that, our estimations indicate that yearly maintenance cost for your on-premise servers is usually at least 2* the yearly cost of hosting on the cloud.

In brief, not only will you face an extremely initial high cost of hardware purchase for your in-house server but you will still have to face relatively high yearly maintenance costs for on-premise servers. This does not include high electricity bills associated with in-house servers.

The Cloud however only requires a relatively small monthly cost. It does need any high initial capital cost.


Cloud applications benefit from the highest security standards. Safety is handled by your host and you do not need to worry about it. The Hosts are very up-to-date with latest industry standards. It is rather difficult, unless you are a big company with lots of security experts, to maintain a similar level of security for your on-premise servers.

Chances are, your office or home servers do not run on the same level of safety as cloud applications.

No wonder republicans are still mad at Hillary Clinton for hosting her own private servers.


Even to run a wordpress site, your server needs software that runs wordpress. Software changes all the time. It gets better. Bugs are corrected, security holes covered and upgrades are released with better versions.

In case of your cloud application, your host does most of the heavy-lifting. Software updates are made easy for you. For your on-premise server however, you are on your own. Chances are high that you will not match cloud standards.


Server maintenance is handled for you in the cloud. All hosts offer technical support. There is less System Administration work required. In case of on-premise servers however, you are again on your own. In fact, you will need a server technician/engineer ready to step-in.


Moore’s law indicates that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles every two years. Indeed, technology has been improving at an exponential rate. This particularly affects the hardware industry, especially for your servers.

In fact, most companies replace their server hardware every four or five years. If they wait any longer, they risk having problems finding many hardware pieces when needed for replacement.

If you opt for the cloud however, your host regularly updates and maintains the hardware for you.

All in all, I sincerely believe that any small business or incipient-stage startup should use the cloud. It offers more benefits, less costs, less headaches and less worries.

Moussa Sarr,

Software Engineer and Entrepreneur

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