by • November 8, 2023
Self-hosted software is also called on-premises software and refers to an open-source application installed and maintained by a person or an enterprise employing their private web servers.
Self-hosted software allows complete control over your infrastructure and data but requires more effort to manage, maintain, and secure. Many web apps you use on a daily basis, such as Google Docs and Gmail, are run on a third-party server. The server hosts the application when you want to use it, and you can then access it on a browser.
However, when it comes to self-hosted solutions, they run on the user’s servers; therefore, the user has full control of the data. For instance, self-hosted project management software can be accessed through the internet and is a good option for individuals or enterprises that want to be in charge of data security, privacy, bandwidth, and storage. But if you encounter an issue with the solution, you will be responsible for fixing it.
Self-hosting a solution is a good choice for people and organizations who have the resources for setup and hosting. When implemented correctly, you can benefit greatly from the different features of a self-hosted platform, especially when it comes to data security. However, as the organization is responsible for hosting the platform adequately, it requires more effort, and there are risks involved in the platform’s implementation and operation.
Here’s what you should know about Self Hosting
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Self-hosting refers to the practice of deploying and maintaining software applications or services on an organization’s own infrastructure, rather than relying on external cloud providers or third-party services. In a self-hosting setup, an enterprise takes direct responsibility for managing the software, hardware, and data, typically within its own premises or through private hosting arrangements.
This approach offers organizations complete control over their data, enhanced data security, extensive customization options, and reduced dependency on external vendors. Self-hosting is especially beneficial for businesses with specific privacy and compliance requirements, such as those in regulated industries like healthcare, legal, and finance. However, it also comes with challenges related to scalability, initial costs, update responsibilities, and reliability that organizations must carefully consider.
Self-hosting involves deploying software applications or services on an organization’s own infrastructure, allowing complete control over the management and maintenance of these resources.
Typically, self-hosted software is installed and operated on servers physically located within the organization’s premises, giving them direct oversight and responsibility for their software ecosystem. This approach enables businesses to safeguard data and ensure data security, especially valuable for industries with stringent privacy concerns.
To implement self-hosting effectively, organizations may need an adept IT team to manage the infrastructure, software updates, and ongoing maintenance.
Let’s look at the opportunities a self-hosted platform offers to your business:
Self-hosted software requires you to purchase a license or a copy of the solution. Since the software is licensed, as it is being used within the premises of an individual or an enterprise, there is greater data protection as compared to cloud computing or SaaS (software-as-a-service) infrastructure. So the organization can retain all the data and is in charge of what happens to it.
It primarily benefits organizations in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, as they have extra privacy concerns. Such enterprises hesitate to take the leap into cloud computing.
With self-hosted software, an enterprise’s servers and data are physically located on the premises. So, the software’s management and maintenance are their responsibility. This is especially helpful in the case of a cybersecurity threat when the ITops team can use backup and disaster recovery solutions to access crucial data.
Self-hosted software is great for organizations with sensitive data, such as legal, healthcare, and finance. These companies must follow stringent cybersecurity regulations and often host their data onsite rather than opting for a data center located far away.
Also, self-hosted software requires an adept IT team to manage the infrastructure and data security.
When it comes to ease of customization, on-premise software has unlimited options as compared to cloud computing. It is the go-to solution for large enterprises with complex IT needs, so the customization offered by self-hosted solutions makes a world of difference. It is especially beneficial in niche industries such as specialized manufacturing, where you can modify the software according to specific requirements.
As you have direct control over the implementation and can customize the on-premise software, there is less dependency on the vendor. This gives you independence and long-term planning reliability. However, the complexity of custom deployment implies that you would require a dedicated IT team comprised of consultants and implementation specialists.
In today’s rapidly changing tech world, constant software updates are considered to be normal. However, your organization doesn’t require all these updates in order to operate successfully. As not all upgrades are significant, self-hosted software lets you decide whether to deploy updates. You can also decide when to deploy the updates released by the software developer.
Although self-hosting is excellent for data security and reliability, it has some downsides. Let’s have a look at the challenges you can encounter by opting for self-hosting.
Software scalability refers to the ability of a system to expand its functionality and capacity according to user demand. The software should be able to handle increasing workloads and data volumes. Moreover, it enables businesses to add and remove data without incurring additional costs. Scalability is crucial in deciding whether the software will adapt to the new users who join a system. Also, when it comes to integrations, you need to consider whether they are scalable.
If you want to scale a self-hosted software, it can impact the hardware and uptime. Scalability also requires more planning and preparation for on-premise solutions compared to cloud computing, where it is simple to add more users or storage.
Self-hosted systems have higher upfront costs because of hosting and hardware-related expenses. Although cloud solutions aren’t cheaper, self-hosting can be more expensive, given that you need an IT department to install and maintain the hardware and software. Additionally, you need to factor in the time it takes to set up, maintain, and update on a monthly basis. You may end up paying thousands of dollars on self-hosting infrastructure, which would also take considerable time. However, in the long term, self-hosting may be cost-effective, especially if your organization has its own IT staff that manages the self-hosted software in-house.
Although self-hosting gives you the freedom to choose when to update your software, it also comes with a big responsibility and requires technical expertise. You need an IT team and legal experts that can take care of the updates on a regular basis. Some of these updates are crucial if you want a competitive advantage or even to ensure that your organization abides by data laws. On the other hand, if you opt for cloud-based services, the updates are the provider’s job.
Self-hosting is dependent on your hardware, so downtime and failure cannot be avoided. But when anything goes down in your self-hosted infrastructure, you cannot function until it is fixed. On the other hand, cloud servers can be easily re-spawned when they go down, thereby helping you resume work as soon as possible. It implies that you can get back to business much faster when there is an outage. However, it is not possible when your self-hosting has any issues.
Self-hosting finds application across various industries and scenarios, catering to specific needs and preferences. Here are some notable use cases and examples:
If your enterprise prefers self-hosting over cloud computing, there are several ways of implementing it. Rather than doing everything in-house, you can also take help from other providers. Here is how your enterprise can use a self-hosted service and save valuable time and resources:
In general, the choice between all these options depends on the specific requirements of your application or service, including security, performance, cost, and ease of management.
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Self-Hosted, On-Premises, or Cloud — Which Deployment Model Is Best?
Terence Bennett, General Manager at DreamFactory, has a strong operational, business, and extensive experience in government IT systems and Google Cloud. He started his career as a U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer, then honed his skills on Google’s Red Team and later became the COO of Integrate.io.
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