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Cloud Vs Server: How to make the best decision for your practice

We consider IT infrastructure to be a fundamental pillar at the core of the success of any veterinary practice. Technology has permeated in to almost every aspect of veterinary medicine. Your PMS is used for charting, organising your schedule, providing treatment plans as well as billing and communicating with your clients. You use technology to monitor your patients, print prescriptions, market your practice and store valuable data. So really, it’s no surprise that downtime no matter how big or small can be extremely disruptive to both your practice and your patients.

It’s for this reason that when we always advise our clients to invest in a solid, robust and secure foundation. Ultimately the decision to do this early on will pay for itself, allowing your practice to function in a safe, professional and efficient manner whilst you focus on patient related tasks.

The likelihood is that IT systems are not your specialty, nor should they be, that’s what we are here for. Our team of veterinary IT experts understand the complexities of running a practice and how to use tech to support the growth you need.

So the focus of this article is the key decision that you will have to address before you proceed: choosing between a cloud-based system or an on-site server! This will affect all the other technology considerations moving forward e.g. what PMS you will go for, type of internet you will need etc.

As this is a very important choice, let’s examine the key differences between Cloud and on-premise Servers:

  Cloud Server


Cloud however will have minimal up-front costs but larger recurring costs.


A local server is going to have a greater initial cost, but you will incur lower monthly recurring costs.



As the cloud is a full package service, security is maintained by the vendor, the security of a cloud solution will always be superior to a local server solution due to their endless budget.


You will have to manage and maintain the security of your on-site server, which may be a headache that you don’t want.



A cloud service has hundreds of thousands of servers which are maintained by the cloud vendor, this means that many servers would have to go down for your service to be affected. This is very unlikely because cloud vendors have the money to invest in engineering resiliency.


There are many things that can go wrong with a server, and you would be responsible for maintaining it. For this reason, a local server option would generally be regarded as a single point of failure, which is concerning as if your server goes down your practice would grind to a sudden halt.

Remote Access

With a cloud-based solution you will have the ability to access key systems (PMS, emails, important files) from anywhere and in most cases from any device. This is already built into the service with security in place to protect your data.


With a local server solution there will be many hoops to jump through to be able to remotely access your systems, in most cases these are less secure and would likely require intervention from an IT professional.



A cloud service is maintained by the cloud vendor as part of the cost so there is one less thing to worry about day to day.


Local servers require regular maintenance to ensure they secure and run efficiently. This costs money and will almost always require help from an external professional.



A cloud solution is much more of an ‘out the box’ solution and in some cases can just take minutes to setup.


Local servers will require extensive configuration and setup, which can be costly and would of course need to be done by a professional.



Cloud solutions are extremely scalable and can adjust to your needs, all you have to do is contact the vendor to adjust your package. If you are planning to grow you practice fast or want multiple sites in the future this would be a great option.


A local server solution will always have a limitation and there is always that risk that you will outgrow it and have to further invest. If you are planning to grow you practice fast or want multiple sites in the future then you will need to budget ahead accordingly.


Energy Costs

With a cloud solution there is less equipment in your building therefore less energy costs compared to a local server solution.


With a local solution there will be more equipment in your building, requiring more space and a higher energy cost compared to a cloud solution.



A cloud solution is very much reliant on an internet connection. However, this can be remediated by having some form of internet backup to protect you from outage. (see our blog on Internet Resiliency)


A local server solution does not have any reliance on your internet. If your internet goes down you can carry on working, unlike a cloud solution which would stop working.



With the cloud, upgrades are included in the cost and often rolled out on a schedule ensuring you are always up to date.


With a local server solution you will have to pay for upgrades, and you may not even be aware that one is required until you run into trouble.


We won’t tell you which one is best, as every practice is different. But keep this information in the back of your mind, as you don’t want to make a decision with once bit of tech that contradicts another.

Remember, you are not alone, you have a wonderful and supportive community in your profession of Vets who have done the exact same thing, and they will be full of knowledge and willing to help if you need it. Additionally, if you have a more technical question, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional who has experience with the veterinary sector.