On-Premises VS Cloud Desktop: Which Is Better in 2024

Many businesses are now adopting the cloud environment for one reason or another: to facilitate remote workers, centralize security, cost-saving, and more. 

Yet, is cloud desktop really the best option for your business in 2024? Will staying with your tried-and-true on-premises desktop and applications be a better option instead?

In this post, we will help you answer these questions (and more) and discuss all you need to know about on-premises vs. cloud desktop configurations.

Without further ado, let us begin.

On-Premises Desktop: The Concept

On-premises desktop means everything about the system (both hardware and software) is operated and managed internally and on-premises:

  • Users use on-premises devices 
  • All software and applications are installed on these devices, including Operating Systems (OSs)
  • When servers are needed, they are also run and managed internally
  • All maintenance efforts including software updates are taken care of in-house

In an on-premises desktop environment, the company assumes complete ownership and control of the whole desktop environment. However, this also means all risks and potential liabilities are also going to be assumed by the company.

Cloud Desktop: The Concept

In a cloud desktop environment, the business is leveraging cloud computing, so users’ desktops and applications are hosted on cloud servers rather than on on-premises servers or data centers.

Cloud desktops can be accessed remotely by users from anywhere and on virtually any device (including affordable thin clients and mobile devices), as long as there’s internet connectivity.

While the actual anatomy of a cloud desktop can vary depending on many different factors, a typical cloud desktop environment will involve:

  • A server (or servers) operated by a cloud service provider in their data center.
  • The server has one or more instances of Operating System (OS), like Windows, running on it, as well as the applications.
  • The server projects a virtual desktop image, which is secured by a gateway to secure access from outside the data center.
  • Users can access this virtual desktop or application via an internet connection from an end-user device (i.e., desktop PC, laptop, or thin client).
  • A remote desktop protocol is shared between the user’s device and the server to manage user input data (keyboard strokes, mouse movements, etc.) and processing output (audio, video).

To summarize, in a cloud desktop environment, an end-user (i.e., an employee) will connect to the cloud desktop via their endpoint device (i.e., a laptop) while the remote desktop protocol (RDP) establishes the connection through the gateway to secure and control the connection.

On-Premises VS Cloud Desktop: Key Differences

1. Level of Ownership

Cloud: in a cloud desktop environment, companies will share data and credentials with a third-party cloud provider, so data privacy can be an issue, which is a common reason for some organizations to stay away from the cloud (at least, keep applications storing sensitive data off the cloud). 

On-premises: in an on-premises desktop environment, companies have complete ownership and control over their desktop systems. Data is not shared with third-party vendors in any way, so companies can also maintain 100% data integrity and privacy.

2. Maintenance Responsibilities

Cloud: with cloud desktops, the cloud service provider is responsible for maintaining the system. There are cloud desktop services like V2 Cloud that offer holistic maintenance services, including update management, so you’ll have more time to focus on achieving your business objectives rather than worrying about your virtual desktop solution’s performance and maintenance. 

On-premises: in an on-premises desktop system, the company is responsible for maintaining its OS and applications, as well as related resources. All the maintenance processes must be performed with the company’s internal resources.

3. Data Security 

Cloud: with cloud desktop systems, the cloud vendor is responsible for the security of their client’s data. If you are working with a reputable cloud vendor, they are more likely to have implemented adequate security and redundancy protocols, as well as other data security measures to protect your data.

On-premises: on the surface, an on-premises desktop may seem more secure since data is managed in-house, but not all companies have the adequate security infrastructure to protect themselves from cyberattacks.

4. Cost

Cloud: typically, a cloud desktop is a lot more cost-effective than an on-premises desktop, especially for smaller companies. Most cloud vendors price their services in a subscription-based model, which is much more affordable than the startup investment required. It’s also much easier and faster to set up a cloud infrastructure.

On-premises: setting up a complete in-house desktop system (with servers and data centers) is obviously much more expensive and would require more effort. Not to mention, there will be ongoing maintenance costs that the company will have to take into account.

Summary: On-Premises VS Cloud Desktop

After we’ve discussed the key differences between the two desktop environments above, we can summarize that there are two main factors to consider when choosing between on-premises or cloud desktop systems: control and cost.

Cost: cloud desktop is typically a better choice for smaller companies with a limited budget since it allows these companies to get full desktop functionality (for multiple devices) with minimal to no upfront investment needed.

It’s also worth considering that many cloud vendors are pricing their services under a subscription model, which will translate into lower monthly costs while including customer support, regular updates, and even training in the package.

Control: on-premises desktop offers a higher level of ownership: you have the utmost freedom in customizing the desktop as you see fit, and you can implement complete access control/authentication when needed. However, in an on-premises system, the company is responsible for the costs (and time) needed to run and maintain the desktop, as well as in training your team.


Cloud desktop is much more cost-effective than on-premises desktop, including if we consider ongoing maintenance and technical support costs. However, you’ll have more control and a higher level of ownership with an on-premises system.

Ultimately, which desktop system is better for you would depend on your company’s size, needs, and budget availability. However, with today’s highly advanced cloud infrastructure, most companies will benefit from using cloud desktops to improve their working environment. 

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