Cloud Computing vs Traditional Computing
January 9, 2024
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Cloud Computing Vs Traditional Computing

'A cloud on the horizon' means something ominous and threatening is approaching.

But having cloud computing on the horizon is only negative if you don't understand or embrace it...

As the CEO of cloud-based video platform Animoto, Brad Jefferson said:

Cloud computing is really a no-brainer for any start-up because it allows you to test your business plan very quickly for little money. Every start-up, or even a division within a company that has an idea for something new, should be figuring out how to use cloud computing in its plan.

In today's dynamic landscape, cloud computing has become the new norm for businesses of all sizes. It has unlocked opportunities to enable companies to innovate and succeed.

In this blog we will compare cloud computing with traditional computing.

What is cloud computing? (A definition)

Cloud computing is an approach to delivering computing services over the internet that involves providing a wide network of servers to deliver information.

These networks (the cloud) are vast computer clusters located remotely in cyberspace. This enables users rapid access to databases, software, and more, no matter where the user is located.

Cloud computing can be categorized into two main types:

  • Public cloud: Offered over the internet for a fee, allowing multiple customers to share the same resources.
  • Private cloud: Dedicated to a single customer, providing enhanced security and control but at a higher implementation cost.

3 cloud service models

There are three main types of cloud computing service models.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

This model offers end-users access to IT infrastructure over the internet, often associated with serverless computing. Prominent examples of IaaS providers include IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS serves both software and hardware to end-users, particularly software developers. It allows users to develop, run, and manage applications without the need for building and maintaining infrastructure. Salesforce is a well-known platform in this category.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a software licensing model that provides access to applications on a subscription basis. Users can utilise external servers to access software without installing it locally. A notable example of SaaS is Microsoft 365.

What is traditional computing? (A definition)

Traditional computing refers to the practice of hosting hardware, software, and related services on-premise.

This means that all computing infrastructure, including servers, storage, and networking equipment, is purchased (or rented). And data is stored and processed in a specific physical location.

It often requires substantial investments in infrastructure, software, and skilled personnel for maintenance.

Cloud computing vs traditional computing: what are the key differences?


Cloud computing relies on off-premise servers and hardware that is accessible digitally from anywhere in the world.

By contrast, in traditional computing, data is stored on physical servers located on-site. This requires local hardware and infrastructure.


Cloud computing offers unparalleled scalability and flexibility. Users can easily adjust computing resources to meet changing needs, thanks to virtually unlimited scalability.

Traditional computing, on the other hand, requires careful planning and investment in computing power. This makes it less adaptable to fluctuating demands.

Accessibility and mobility

Cloud computing provides exceptional accessibility and mobility. Users can access applications and data from anywhere with an internet connection, using various devices.

This flexibility enables remote work, collaboration, and seamless integration across multiple locations.

In contrast, traditional computing restricts access to on-premise systems, limiting mobility and hindering remote collaboration.


Cloud-based computing business models often charge customers according to how many computing resources they use, i.e., in a kind of pay-as-you-go model. For businesses, this often means that costs reflect business requirements, which in turn cover costs.

This enables, for example, small businesses in the early stages of growth to scale up as and when they need to. Or seasonal businesses to regularly scale down during their less busy periods.

Compared to cloud-based computing, traditional computing business models can be costly. They generally require upfront investment and a range of storage and maintenance costs.

These costs can be challenging for small or seasonal businesses to meet. And it often doesn't allow for flexible scaling (up or down).

Advantages of cloud computing

1. Collaboration focused

Cloud-based tools enable seamless collaboration among teams, regardless of location.

Multiple users can work on shared documents in real time. This enhances productivity and enables flexible remote working capabilities.

2. Ongoing maintenance

Cloud service providers handle infrastructure maintenance, software updates, and security patches.

This helps to reduce operating costs by freeing businesses from the burden of manual upgrades. It also ensures access to the latest software versions and security features.

3. High data resilience

Cloud computing offers robust disaster recovery capabilities. Data is backed up across multiple servers and data centres, reducing the risk of data loss.

In the event of a local disaster, businesses can quickly recover their data and systems from the cloud and ensure business continuity.

4. Environmentally friendly

By reducing the need for individual physical servers and data centres and consolidating resources, cloud infrastructure improves energy efficiency and reduces businesses' carbon footprint.

This makes it a greener option for businesses concerned about sustainability.

Disadvantages of cloud computing

1. Security

Security is a critical concern in cloud computing, which involves businesses entrusting their sensitive data to third-party providers.

While many providers implement robust security measures, there is an always inherent risk in giving direct control over data storage and protection.

It also potentially exposes systems cybersecurity threats because every component is online. And the public nature of cloud computing makes it easy for anyone to create an account without thorough verification, increasing the risk of unauthorised access.

Is cloud computing safe?

Cloud computing can be a secure storage option. But it ultimately depends on which cloud service provider is used. A good one will ensure robust protection against unauthorised access and data leakage.

Human error plays a big role in cloud security risks, according to Gartner, through 2025, 99% of all cloud security failures will be due to some level of human error.

To mitigate these risks, businesses should regularly assess vulnerabilities, prioritise security controls, and document accepted risks. By taking proactive steps, businesses can maximise the safety and security of valuable data in their cloud computing practices.

2. Vendor lock-in

Vendor lock-in refers to when a user becomes dependent on a specific supplier. This can happen for companies using specific cloud service providers.

Migration difficulties and differences between vendor platforms may lead to additional costs and configuration complexities.

3. Internet dependency

Cloud computing relies on a reliable and fast internet connection for accessing applications and data. This dependency can be a challenge in areas with limited or unreliable internet connectivity.

Advantages of traditional computing

1. Full control of your environment

Traditional computing provides IT departments with complete control over their information and infrastructure.

IT staff can manage and maintain the environment, making changes, and updates, and addressing issues accordingly, at their own pace. This provides businesses flexibility and customisation options.

2. Better security

With traditional computing, only authorised company staff have access to the data centre, providing a sense of security for sensitive business data.

Companies dealing with highly confidential information, requiring specific security protocols and compliance standards may prefer this model for better control over data security.

3. Consistent data access

Storing data on-premise in a traditional infrastructure ensures consistent data access, even in the event of network issues or internet interruptions.

Businesses can still access their data without downtime due to service outages. This provides reliability in data availability and reduces concerns about disruptions caused by external factors.

Disadvantages of traditional computing

1. High Capital Expenditure (CAPEX)

Traditional computing requires a significant upfront investment in physical servers and hardware.

Businesses have to purchase an entire suite of supplies, even if they only require a specific tool, leading to higher capital expenditure.

2. Limited scalability

With traditional IT infrastructure, businesses are limited to the hardware installed on their premises. Consequently, when they run out of processing power or storage space, the only solution is to acquire additional servers or hardware.

Doing this requires purchasing more computers and software licenses, with manual changes performed by the IT department.

3. Limited accessibility

While it is possible to provide remote access with traditional IT systems, it can be complex and may require ongoing IT support.

The growing need for flexible and accessible solutions in the context of remote work, is better addressed by cloud computing. Cloud computing offers seamless remote accessibility without significant IT complexities.

Cloud computing or traditional computing?

When deciding between cloud computing and traditional computing, it's important to consider the specific needs of the business. The final decision hinges on the specific requirements, budget, and long-term goals of each company.

Cloud computing offers cost savings, scalability, efficiency and accessibility. This makes it an attractive option for businesses looking to reduce initial costs.

However, there are risks associated with vendor lock-in and cybersecurity threats in the cloud environment.

Traditional computing provides businesses with greater control and customisation options, but it requires the purchase and management of hardware, software, and related services. This can be expensive and challenging to scale.


Cloud computing has revolutionised how businesses operate, offering cost-effective solutions, easy scalability, and improved accessibility.

Compared to traditional computing, the cloud frees companies from hardware constraints, enabling remote work and collaboration.

However, it's essential to address security risks and choose reputable providers. By weighing the pros and cons, each business can make an informed decision that aligns with its unique needs and goals.

Cloud computing opens the door to limitless possibilities, propelling businesses to new heights of success and efficiency.

With the right approach, organizations can soar into a connected future with confidence.

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