VMware Workspace ONE is an intelligence-driven digital workspace platform, which allows organisations to simply and securely deliver and manage any app on any device. It integrates access control, application management and multi-platform endpoint management into a single platform.

It is available as a cloud service or on-premises deployment; cloud-based systems are more common than ever before, but there are many reasons why organisations may choose the more traditional on-premise approach.

In a recent conversation with Paul Hayward and Tim Evans from Dell Technologies, I had the opportunity to walk through the key differences between VMware Workspace ONE On-Premises and Workspace ONE Cloud. As the community manager for Unified Workspace at Dell Technologies, I was eager to share more about the Manage pillar of Unified Workspace with our members.


Michelle: Thanks for joining us for a Unified Workspace Community Q&A! We would like to help our members understand the key differences between Workspace ONE on-premises and Workspace ONE Cloud and discuss the respective advantages and disadvantages.

Paul:  Great to be here!! Also don’t forget hybrid – Workspace ONE is typically hybrid because there will always be an element of both on-prem and cloud combined.

Tim: Firstly, the Workspace ONE is fundamentally the same regardless of where it sits. There are a number of considerations that organisations need to make, including management of infrastructure, software upgrades, knowledge transfer, troubleshooting, security when it comes to how it is implemented.

Michelle: Tim, you mentioned managing infrastructure, so let’s start there. How would this differ for a company choosing an on-premises approach compared to a cloud one?

Tim: With on-premises, the organisation is responsible for the physical infrastructure, servers and database, etc. and there is a cost for this. For larger organisations, the database administration can be quite a burden. Without regular database maintenance and optimisation, events can create a load on local storage, and performance can be impacted as a result. A dedicated database admin is typically needed (and they are not always cheap).

Paul: With Workspace ONE, cloud service platform updates, new features, backups, bug fixes, and database are all taken care of by VMware. The customer will still require an on-premises cloud connector, which is hosted on a windows machine to connect Workspace ONE cloud to On-Premises resources such as Active Directory or Email services. Those services can also exist within a private or public cloud, so the same applies.

Michelle: What about general platform updates, new features or even a security patch – would on-premises also be more of a cost/ labour burden?

Tim: With on premises, customers will have to perform software upgrades in line to Workspace ONE releases (and OS releases) if they want the latest and greatest features. It’s recommended that this is done by the professionals, although there is a self-upgrade option available to certified users. VMware will usually provide support for N-2 versions, and upgrades are only available if annual maintenance is purchased (20-25% of the initial perpetual license cost). As Paul mentioned, everything is taken care of by the Workspace ONE cloud service.

Michelle: Is knowledge transfer also a challenge for on-premises?

Paul: Yes, knowledge transfer is a key challenge for organisations with on-premises, albeit not from an end user provisioning admin perspective, as this is the same for on-premises and Workspace ONE cloud service. The challenge is from an environment interface perspective; Workspace ONE traffic flows through many components of the customer’s network, and to get a good knowledge and understanding of this takes a fair amount of time.

Michelle: When it comes to troubleshooting, which option is most effective?

Paul: Generally, on-prem is much harder to troubleshoot issues. For example, an organisation may make an innocuous change to the configuration of their proxies or other part of their network. The organisation then notices change in performance, and now all of a sudden, the support teams have to troubleshoot their users, the platform, and network and database servers to figure out what has gone wrong or even changed. This can be very time consuming because of all of the infrastructure required to run Workspace ONE on-premises, when we look at the Workspace ONE cloud service it’s a polar opposite as its effectively a managed SaaS service.

Michelle: It sounds like VMware Workspace ONE cloud service is simpler to consume and easier to manage and troubleshoot, so why would a customer choose on-premises?

Tim: Many organisations would trade all of this for security. For example, in military, legal or maybe financial verticals, some customers will not allow for any data to be hosted on an external network due to the sensitive nature of the content. Others believe that their networks are secure enough. Some customers may have recently invested in hardware and want to use it so it doesn’t go to waste or repurpose existing hardware to minimise costs.

Michelle: To summarise everything we spoke about for our community members, which do you think is the best option and why?

Paul: For the vast majority of customers and their use cases, it makes sense to take advantage of the simplicity a hosted cloud solution would offer. One size doesn’t fit all here and we recognise that. We would always advise that if a customer is unsure, then speak to your local reseller, VMware or ourselves at Dell Technologies so we can help guide you. We want to ensure you understand which is the best option for you and your business.

Tim: I agree with Paul. It comes down to use case and hence we support both models. We do, however, see more customers choose SaaS as it has so many benefits. It is more cost effective in the long run and many traditional security concerns with hosted services no longer exist. Most of all, WS1 SaaS solutions allow you the time to focus on your business and drive value to your customers rather than having to manage and maintain complex IT infrastructure.


Due to its flexibility, reliability and security, cloud can remove a great deal of burden for a company, which enables them to invest their time, money and resources into their core business. However, there is indeed a case for on-premise deployment, and this is why it’s so important to speak to trusted experts and peers if there’s any uncertainty around which route is the right one.

If you liked this conversation, have anything to add, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment below or start a discussion in the forums.

Also, both Tim and Paul are both on social media and are members of the Unified Workspace community, so please reach out to them with questions as well.

Paul: LinkedIn / Twitter

Tim: Tim Evans / Twitter

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