Hybrid-Cloud: Squashing the Debate on Cloud vs. On-Premise

September 11, 2014 by guest author, Tony Downey

Hybrid Cloud Model

Guest Post: David Wible, Industry Weapon

There is a lot of debate on whether digital signage should be housed on-premises or in the cloud. Of course, both cloud based and on-premises digital media management solutions have pros and cons. An ‘on-prem’ solution allows clients to have complete control of the system, so that data security is never an issue. While the cloud is optimal for dynamic content integrations, so users can incorporate social media, public RSS feeds, news updates, and more.

Good news: the solution doesn’t have to be one-way or the other; you can have both with a hybrid cloud model. This model lifts the fog from the cloud, but still keeps your private data grounded when you think it’s necessary. The hybrid cloud model truly gives users the best of both worlds.

When evaluating solutions I would focus on three areas.

The first, is it a cause for concern that your data is going through the cloud?

Then I would look at whether maintenance costs deter you from seeking an ‘on-prem’ solution?

Finally, what are your overall content goals?

When it comes to on-prem solutions they are typically more expensive, have slower upgrade cycles and are more difficult to maintain. This results in 3 main issues:

Content is the key ingredient for attracting attention to the signs. Unless companies hire a content team devoted to uploading news, weather, and sports scores around the clock, on-prem solutions will have to make outbound requests to access these sources. As soon as just one request is made, they have already met the criteria to house a hybrid cloud solution.  Before implementing an on-prem solution, ask yourself if your company is willing to invest in hiring staff members to build and support widgets, products, and services.

Cloud technology, on the other hand, has been around for years, but many companies see red flags with this solution. For starters, updating content can use a ton of bandwidth and content may not update if there are connectivity issues. Accessing the cloud also creates lag time for applications. Time focused applications are meant to be triggered instantaneously to the event, so connecting via the cloud would defeat the purpose. When someone pulls a fire alarm, you don’t want the signal to have to travel to the cloud in order to send a command to broadcast alerts on your signage. Finally, there are a few security issues; relying on the cloud requires you to depend on accessed firewall information. This is particularly concerning for companies that can not legally send information to the cloud or have sensitive data.

The hybrid cloud model, on the other hand, allows for enhanced security. In the simplest terms, the solution provider’s cloud is used for housing and creating content. The relay server is the bridge between the cloud and the players, located on the client’s network. It pushes the scheduled content to the appropriate players, and allows users to isolate the connection outside of their network to only contact the solution provider’s cloud. All of the communications between the cloud and the relay are encrypted for security purposes. The relay also acts as a caching device, allowing media and content to be stored on the relay from the cloud.

With the hybrid cloud model, digital signage solution providers have been able to mitigate security issues that plague the cloud by providing a server that separately hosts design elements and data. That way, the user’s data is driven locally while all design elements are driven at the cloud level. Instead of requiring inbound access, solution providers use an outbound connection from the client’s relay to the cloud. Their practices are kept secure because of the ability to cache, condense, and distribute content down to a single source, then redistribute on the local network.

Digital signage is no longer an emerging technology, but an ever-evolving, advanced technology with a streamlined approach to security and stability. To be successful, it requires a continuous flow of content that is informative and entertaining. To manage this content, you don’t have to chose between an on-prem or cloud based solution. By marrying the best features from both worlds with the hybrid cloud solution, you can rest assured that your data is safe and your content is current.

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