Anytime a company is considering adding new software to their tech tack, the choice of SaaS or on-premise solutions looms. On the blog, we’ve been discussing Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions and how they can support an enterprise collaboration program.
Now, it’s time to put the final piece into the puzzle to help you select the best EIM software by deciding whether your company needs a SaaS platform or on-premise installation. Let’s compare these options in-depth to help guide you.
When comparing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to on-premise or in-house solutions, the biggest difference is who is in charge of hosting and maintaining the solution. With a SaaS solution, you’re paying a third-party provider to host and maintain the software for you. The software lives in the cloud, giving your team access to it from anywhere. Meanwhile, since a third-party is in charge, you don’t have as much control over the software and customization is going to be more limited.
On the other hand, an on-premise solution lives in-house. Your team is responsible for setting up, hosting, and maintaining the software along with any hardware necessary to run it. This can cause availability and accessibility constraints, but it gives you much more flexibility when it comes to controlling and customizing your solution to meet your unique needs.
When comparing SaaS to on-premise, the biggest factors to consider beyond pricing including security requirements and company culture. With these fundamental differences out of the way, let’s take a closer look at how SaaS and on-premise solutions differ in some key categories.
The first aspect to consider when deciding between SaaS and on-premise is implementation and accessibility. SaaS solutions require very little implementation since they live on the cloud, although you will need to ensure that they integrate with existing applications. Users are able to sign up and start using the solution regardless of where they’re located, but this type of “self-service” approach can create new challenges like shadow IT or even security threats – so it’s important to define and apply the required diligence, policies and planning for SaaS solutions to avoid unintended consequences.
Meanwhile, an on-premise implementation does require hands-on planning and execution. You’ll need to set aside some weeks to get the software and necessary hardware prepared for launch. This presents the opportunity for more control and customization, but it also reduces accessibility for users who are not on-premises.
In either case, ask yourself how many users need access to the platform every day, if the software needs to be accessed by those off-premise, and if you have enough internal resources to support and maintain an on-premise solution. Your answers will help you choose the winner for this first category.
When it comes to budget, SaaS solutions tend to be more appealing because they tend to have a low startup cost. The subscription fee tends to scale with your company based on metrics like number of users, and you can often pay it monthly or annually. However, SaaS costs can quickly add up, and unused licenses or redundancy can add unnecessary cloud costs that sneak up on you.
On-premise solutions tend to be costly at the start because you’ll have to purchase hardware and devote resources to setting it up. However, on-going maintenance costs tend to be low, so long as you have the necessary IT staff to troubleshoot problems. You will need to upgrade hardware as years go by, but you won’t have to pay monthly or annual subscription fees.
Another consideration in this category is the time required for maintaining and supporting the solution. This is near zero with a SaaS product since the third-party provider is in charge of maintenance and support, although you’ll still need to keep tabs on security and compliance yourself. With an on-premise solution, everything is in your hands regarding support and upgrades. This means you’ll need to consider bug fixes, user support, and a disaster recovery plan, among other things.
SaaS is highly scalable thanks to the fact that a third-party provider is in charge of the hardware side of things. If your business needs more seats, servers, bandwidth, etc., you just need to contact the vendor and they can augment your configuration as required. Of course, if you want to downscale because you have unused licenses or other resources, you might have to wait until the next renewal, which could be up to 12 months away, if you’re paying annually.
On-premise solutions can be difficult to scale in either direction because you’ll need to plan ahead for additional hardware and resources. This can lead to delays that can hinder a growing business, which is why SaaS is the better option for a company that anticipates rapid growth and/or wishes to remain flexible at all times.
Control and customizability are key considerations when deciding between SaaS or On-Premise. It should be clear that SaaS products do not offer the same control and customization of an on-premise solution. While many SaaS offerings allow you to choose from a selection of tiers to get the features you need, this can still lead you to paying for features you don’t want. This is compounded if the SaaS product requires you to upgrade both features and storage at the same time, when you might only need one. If a vendor offers a customized plan, it’s worth looking into to keep costs low.
An on-premise solution can offer practically unlimited customization, although upgrading it in the future will require a large investment and a good deal of planning. Still, if you have the IT staff necessary to support an on-premise solution, it may be worth it so you can add unique features if you need them. The main question is, do you have the hardware to meet existing requirements? Also consider if you have a need for customizations and if you have the internal resources to pursue those customizations.
An alternative to the SaaS vs On-premise choice is a custom SaaS solution that provides the benefits of traditional SaaS plus the customizability of on-prem solutions. At Aezion, we’re dedicated to building trusted software that solves complex business challenges. If you’re searching for an EIM solution and you’re choosing between SaaS or on-premise, we can help. Contact our team today to discuss your needs.
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