September 25, 2023
Cloud Migration
Machine Learning: On-Premise vs Cloud
In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of on-premise machine learning and compare them to AWS Cloud machine learning solutions.

Every architect faces the challenge of deciding whether to host their machine learning (ML) solutions on-premise or in the cloud. This decision can significantly impact user experience, costs, and overall efficiency. To make an informed choice, it's crucial to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of on-premise machine learning and compare them to AWS Cloud machine learning solutions.

On-Premise Machine Learning

On-premise machine learning involves hosting all the necessary technology infrastructure for running ML workloads on-site, rather than relying on a public cloud provider. While there are advantages to this approach, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

Advantages of On-Premise

Cheaper with Considerations - On-premise infrastructure can be cost-effective when comparing apples to apples. However, it's important to consider additional expenses such as power supply, networking equipment, cooling infrastructure, and improving user experience for global users. On-premise deployments may lack geographically close proximity to users, resulting in slower results and increased latency. Creating a global network for better user experience can be expensive, as on-premise deployments do not provide the same access to global infrastructure as cloud providers.

Ownership of Infrastructure - With on-premise solutions, you have complete ownership of the underlying infrastructure. This can be an important factor for some organizations, as they have full control over the equipment and can tap into its resale value. Unlike cloud costs, which are expenses with no resale value, owning the equipment is a valid capital expense.

Disadvantages of On-Premise

Managing Large Data Storage - Storing large amounts of data required for training machine learning algorithms can be costly and cumbersome in an on-premise environment. It requires significant investments in equipment and technology for data storage, as well as additional manpower for patching and securing database servers.

Expensive Overhead Investment - Running machine learning workloads on-premise requires expensive equipment and incurs high management costs. The initial investment and ongoing maintenance expenses can be substantial, making it less cost-effective compared to cloud solutions.

Starting from Scratch - Unless a ready-to-use machine learning algorithm is available, most companies need to invest in research and development, talent acquisition, and manual configuration of the machine learning workload platform. In contrast, public cloud services offer pre-configured resources, allowing for quicker implementation.

AWS Cloud Machine Learning

AWS Cloud machine learning involves running all ML workloads in the cloud. This includes the computing power required for training and using machine learning algorithms, as well as data storage. By leveraging the services provided by a public cloud provider like AWS, all infrastructure is hosted off-premise.

Advantages of AWS Cloud

No Capital Expenditure Costs - One of the major advantages of using AWS Cloud for machine learning is the elimination of capital expenditure costs. With a pay-as-you-go model, you don't need to purchase expensive equipment for running machine learning workloads. This significantly reduces upfront costs and allows for more flexibility in resource allocation.

Starting with a Strong Foundation - AWS Cloud provides a ready-to-use infrastructure for running machine learning workloads. Configuration is either readily available or easily adjustable, allowing you to focus primarily on the machine learning workload itself. This saves time and effort compared to starting from scratch with an on-premise solution.

Built-in Disaster Recovery - Public cloud services like AWS offer built-in disaster recovery features for managed services. Unlike on-premise deployments that require duplicating infrastructure for redundancy, the cloud infrastructure ensures high availability and business continuity in the event of a disaster.

Disadvantages of AWS Cloud

Lack of Ownership - When using cloud services, you don't have true ownership of the underlying infrastructure. While there are options like purchasing reserved capacity or dedicated instances/hosts, these are merely payment models that allow users to rent fixed capacity. If ownership is a critical factor for your organization, running ML workloads on the cloud may not be the best option.

Potential Lock-In - Migrating to a different cloud provider can be costly and time-consuming due to the amount of data involved in machine learning workloads. AWS data transfer costs out of the platform can add up, and the process of building infrastructure in an alternative cloud provider requires significant investment of time and resources.


When comparing the costs of on-premise and AWS Cloud for machine learning solutions, the cloud offers several advantages. On-premise solutions often require upfront capital expenditure, ongoing operational costs, and scalability challenges. On the other hand, hosting ML solutions on the AWS Cloud provides a pay-as-you-go model, flexibility, scalability, and cost optimization options. Businesses can start small, scale as needed, and only pay for the resources they use, making it a cost-effective choice for many organizations.

It's important to note that the cost comparison may vary depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the ML solution, usage patterns, and specific business requirements. To make the right decision, carefully evaluate your machine learning workloads' needs and consider the benefits and drawbacks of each hosting solution.