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On-Premises, Cloud-based or Web-based?

Sep 11 2017

SubscriberCRM can be implemented to operate in several different ways; but there is often confusion around what "cloud-based" really means and what options you have when you're looking to ditch your on-premises servers and move your software to the cloud.

On-Premises

Data and application hosted on your own infrastructure.

Until a few years ago the common way to run software was in a client-server arrangement - whereby the data was stored centrally within your own network infrastructure and the programs more often than not loaded on each workstation.

The advantages of this approach:

  • You know where your data is - your important data is within your own infrastructure and on your own server. You know where it is and you can protect it through hardware and software firewalls from unauthorised access.
  • You control access to your data - you know who has access to your data so data privacy is less of an issue.
  • Internet downtime is not a problem - You are not reliant upon the internet.
  • Remote working still an option - Even with office-based solutions, staff are able to access software remotely given suitable access solutions and security measures are in place to facilitate remote working.

The main disadvantages:

  • You are responsible for your kit - you are responsible for the hardware, security, maintenance and backing up of the data. These resources would often be bought in and could present a company with unbudgeted costs.

Cloud-based

Data in the cloud and accessed by an application not a web browser.

Let's quickly clarify some fuzzy terminology. Cloud-based and Web-based are not the same thing.

Describing something as Cloud-based is a very general description, and generally just means that data and/or software is hosted on another company's infrastructure; which could be anywhere in the world and accessed through the internet.

The advantages of Cloud-based solutions:

  • Capital expenditure is reduced - lower capital expenditure as there are no servers to purchase and it is relatively easy to grow the infrastructure as your business demands grow.
  • Reduced risk - potential for improved security, resilience and reliability as the cloud hosting provider takes on the responsibility to limit the risk of a security breach and may possibly have a pool of redundant IT resources that can be brought in should a failure occur.

The disadvantages of cloud-based solutions include:

  • Potential downtime - if the provider's service goes down, you will not have access to your systems and data.
  • Reliance on the internet - if your internet connection is lost, you will not be able to access your data.
  • Data breaches are not eliminated - although cloud service providers implement the best security standards and industry certifications, storing data and important files on external service providers always opens up risks.
  • Changing suppliers may be difficult - organisations may find it difficult to migrate their services from one vendor to another.

Web-based

Data in the cloud and accessed through a web browser.

A web-based application (also known as a "web application" or "web app") is accessed entirely via a web browser; no software is installed on the user's device at all. All data and software is hosted remotely and accessed via the internet.

The advantages of a web-based solution are:

  • A better user experience - it is generally easier and cheaper to make a web-based system user friendly across multiple platforms and various screen sizes.
  • Access from anywhere/anytime - it provides any-time worldwide access as employees can work from multiple offices, a client's site, a hotel, or even from home.
  • Not hardware dependent - the system can be used on any device with a web browser as opposed to needing to use a specific computer or laptop.
  • No need for local updates - the solution is always up-to-date as everyone is accessing the same web app via the same URL they will all be seeing the most up-to-date version of your system.

The disadvantages include:

  • Internet reliance - if the internet goes down or you don't have access to the internet you will not be able to access your web application.
  • Less secure - there is no denying that your data is less secure when it's in the cloud, especially when users from all over the world are accessing the same server hosted by a third party. Although there are ways to reduce your risk - email encryption and SSL enforcement for secure HTTPS access are just two examples.
  • Slower response - a web app will probably be slower than an application hosted on your company's server. You need to decide if a slight reduction in speed is worth the worldwide access.
  • No common standard for browsers - as we don't all use the same browser this means you will have to make sure your web app is supported across various browsers and for various screen sizes.

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