Understanding your deployment options: Cloud, self-hosted, and the Tines Tunnel

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Written by Aoife Anderson

One of the biggest decisions a rapidly evolving organization has to make when it comes to its IT infrastructure is whether to move to the cloud. 

At Tines, we love the cloud but understand that different security systems and environments require different deployment options. Some organizations need extra guardrails in place to access and manage their systems and data. Those operating in regulated industries, like finance and insurance, or the government sector, often require self-hosted or on-premise solutions to ensure that their networks are protected and that they can maintain compliance.

Tines is unique in many ways, but one of our biggest differentiators is that our no-code automation platform can be deployed in the cloud or self-hosted.

Approximately 80% of enterprise workflows are cloud-based, and the vast majority of systems our customers interact with are cloud-based. To get started immediately in Tines, you can use our cloud version; to self-host, our sales team can help you evaluate your requirements and decide on the best route forward.

In our experience, most customers who start out planning to deploy an instance of Tines on their servers to have complete control over their data and network security quickly realize during the evaluation process that our cloud offering is a better fit for them. More often than not, it's because cloud customers never have to worry about hardware, connectivity, or any operational issues. They like the idea of not having to manage it or deal with upgrades and costs. Cloud deployments also get new features and bug fixes as soon as they're available, with no intervention or action required from customers.

The Tines Tunnel 

A surprising number of mission-critical systems that our customers want to automate interactions with run on some sort of private network, for example, on-prem Jira or even a homegrown API that’s running on a server underneath somebody’s desk. When we encounter security teams running services on-prem that they need Tines to access, the Tines Tunnel feature is a game-changer.

The Tines Tunnel is essentially a tiny piece of software that runs on your private network; it’s a simple container that will run in anything from Docker Compose to Kubernetes or anything that supports a Docker container. When you make a request to Tines via Tines Tunnel, it will run that request as if Tines is running on the same network. So, suppose you need to automate interactions with an on-prem system behind a firewall. In that case, the Tines Tunnel allows you to access your systems running on private networks from our cloud securely without having to change firewall rules. Cloud tenants can also have multiple tunnels configured to allow customers to connect to multiple separated private environments.

Some of the other benefits of the Tines Tunnel include:

  • Consistent integrations: You can talk to any service regardless of where it is hosted.

  • Manage logs: It allows you to use Tines to fetch logs and push them onto your internal servers.

If you’re interested in having the Tines Tunnel feature enabled for your cloud Tines instance, simply contact support@tines.io.

Which self-hosted option is right for your organization 

If self-hosting isn’t up for debate, customers can choose between a bring-your-own Linux server or a custom Docker-based deployment. While the latter requires more effort to set up, it will likely be easier to scale and maintain the deployment in the future. Regardless of which option you choose, the main downside to self-hosting is that it might impact Tines’ ability to assist with troubleshooting some problems.

As the cloud continues to grow in popularity, more and more security teams are moving their applications and data off-premise. However, data security is always paramount, regardless of where applications are housed. When applications are on-premise or self-hosted, companies can physically secure their data center and implement robust network security measures. However, they also have to worry about patching vulnerabilities and managing access control.

At Tines, our cloud offering is SOC2 Type 2 certified, and we conduct regular pen tests. Our cloud customers can continue to rely on their data storage service provider and maintain control so that their data is secure. We also encourage best practices to ensure customers take steps to secure their own applications and data. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both self-hosted and cloud-based solutions, we believe data security should always be a top priority.

Other considerations 

With any platform, the advantages of the cloud over self-hosted typically include increased flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. But for organizations seeking to modernize their infrastructure and move their applications and data off-premise, one of the most important considerations is timing. Making the switch from self-hosted to cloud too early can mean missing out on important innovations, while waiting too long can put a company at a competitive disadvantage. The key is to find the right time for your organization.

Moving to the cloud can be a big decision, but it doesn't have to be intimidating. By doing your research and planning ahead, you can ensure that you're making the right decision at the right time for your organization.

Ultimately, Tines delivers the compliance you require, the enterprise features you expect, and the ability to run wherever you need it – from our managed cloud right through to self-hosted installations for regulated industries.

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