Cloud vs. On-Prem WAF: What’s The Difference?


When it comes to web application firewalls, cloud WAF and on-premise WAF are the 2 most common WAF types on the market. On-premise WAFs require hardware tools in your physical server environment. Cloud WAFs, on the other hand, provide protection through the cloud computing system without the need for any hardware costs.


On-premise WAFs take time to deploy and require specially trained people to configure them properly. It may take up to 1 week for the WAF to become fully operational.

Cloud-based WAFs are easy and fast to set up, and everything can be protected in minutes. The area they provide protection is much wider.


On-premise WAFs require your company to have its own dedicated IT team to manage operations, or may require hiring outsource IT employees. You can have full access and control with WAF, only when it’s embedded in the company infrastructure properly. Therefore, the management of WAF requires expertise. This creates additional training costs or the need to recruit staff.

Cloud WAFs require very little maintenance. You can even benefit from the 24/7 service of your WAF provider. Real-time reports on web traffic activities are provided, allowing you to take action only when needed. Cloud WAF is also a suitable option for businesses with limited resources and time to dedicate to IT operations.


On-premise WAFs have limited capacity. This means that if you want to increase the protection power of your WAF, you may need to purchase additional hardware.

Instead, cloud WAFs provide much more flexibility in scalability. You can instantly increase the capacity of your WAF, or configure it to scale automatically -based on threats and traffic.


The cost for both types of WAFs differs greatly due to the different expenditures to be incurred. On-premise WAFs require larger investments in the long periods. It includes equipment, maintenance, hardware costs, upgrade costs, making on-premise WAF more costly.

With cloud WAFs, payments are relatively more predictable and ofcourse more affordable, as there are annual or monthly subscriptions and extra fees for add-ons, if any.


Ultimately, the WAF you choose should be determined by your organization’s architecture and your specific needs. Generally, we can say that Cloud WAFs are more preferable because they provide flexibility, no hardware costs, and they are more comprehensive. Also, cloud is more flexible, you can mitigate most of the problems by simply adjusting the policies. But ofcourse, before determining the WAF to be used, the organizational structure and needs must be clearly determined and the most effective solution must be selected accordingly.