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Cloud-based vs. On-premise - 10 Considerations

How do you achieve successful  field service management in the Cloud?

Like any business, service and installation organizations are focused on improving business performance, productivity in the field and customer satisfaction. Field service management software is essential in order to provide the best customer service, access customer data, and increase sales. Businesses looking to invest in or change software platforms have a challenging decision to make - use software in the cloud or on-premise.

When talking about cloud-based Software as Service (SaaS) solutions, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that on-premise (on-prem) software still plays an essential role in many organizations. It was the only offering available to organizations for many years and may continue to adequately serve business needs. As the saying goes - “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it”.

However, according to Gartner cloud continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend:

By 2024, more than 45% of IT spending on system infrastructure, infrastructure software, application software and business process outsourcing will shift from traditional solutions to cloud

Gartner: Cloud Shift Impacts All IT Markets - Smarter With Gartner

What should businesses consider when deciding whether an On-Prem or a Cloud solution is the best fit for their business? Since both types are often used in field service management, it may be difficult to know which is the best option.

Understanding your implementation options when choosing between Cloud or On-Premise for Field Service Management Software

Let’s dive into the meaning of these options and how to choose which is right for you. This is useful knowledge whether you are choosing your first field service management solution or in the middle of a major decision about switching software platforms.

Cloud and SaaS can be used as interchangeable terms, but there is a difference so let's start with defining what we are talking about and what the key differences are?

A Cloud based solution refers to on-demand services, computer networks, storage, applications or resources accessed via the internet and through another provider’s shared cloud computing infrastructure. With a Cloud based solution some or all your IT requirements are hosted by a platform provider who takes care of all the necessary infrastructure, including security, server stability and maintenance, data storage etc.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is another layer on a Cloud platform. SaaS is a software licensing model in which access to the software is provided on a subscription basis, with the software being located on external servers rather than on servers located in-house.

SaaS software is maintained and managed by an external service provider, accessible via the internet. SaaS gives businesses the flexibility to achieve what they need without the burden of paying for and maintaining a server on-premise.

All data and configuration in Cloud or SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions are held in the cloud and do not reside on the client site.

On-prem solutions in most cases are physically located at an organizations’  site or in a hosting location of their choice. The application in use and all the data associated with it is stored on a server or a private cloud in this location. This enables the organization to fully control their own security and access to data and application.

On-Premise deployments require a larger up-front investment, and though they do not  require incremental costs throughout the ownership, they do require regular service and maintenance from your IT department.

Considerations for service organizations weighing cloud-based field service software vs. on-premise field service software

The core difference between cloud and on-prem is where the software and data are stored and who is responsible for maintenance, upgrades, and security.

Cloud and SaaS

On-Premise

Data Security: Data is encrypted (stored in a secure location in the cloud), making it more difficult to hack. If a device is compromised, data is easier to recover. 

 

Data Security: Data is stored in-house as well as the knowledge of the system. Organizations have complete ownership of their data.

This may be preferable for organizations with compliance needs, where they do not want data “shuffled” over the internet or want to restrict internet access to their systems, databases or applications.

Software Updates: Software automatically updates to the latest technology with little or no effort from the user.  The vendor handles updates and product enhancements and notifies you of changes.

 

Software Updates: Regular updates to your system may be costly and could take time and effort to install. 

On-premise solutions typically have a slower cycle to release updates. The updates may require hardware and software changes and will involve IT to execute.>

Accessibility: With the cloud, employees in the office or the field can access data like customer history and schedules at any time. Instant data syncing allows everyone to see the same information on their computer or mobile device.

Accessibility: Access is generally limited to the device(s) that the software was originally installed on. So, the office manager must communicate changes and new information to technicians manually.

Scalability: Cloud services are highly scalable. Organizations can simply request more seats or storage and attain it rapidly.

Cloud service typically require less IT involvement and less in-house technical skill for deployment, updates, and changes.

Scalability: On-premise deployments are dependent on the organization and its resources (or partner resources) for roll-out and updates.

 

 

Internet connectivity: Software needs a reliable internet connection across devices to share information and sync with the cloud. However, many solutions have offline modes for when internet is unavailable. 

Internet Connectivity: Solution may not need internet to complete day-to-day operations, allowing for flexibility if internet is unavailable. 

IT Support: The cloud software’s support team can quickly access the backend to solve any glitch or issue that may arise. Also, the software is regularly and automatically updated. This allows IT support to easily find the problem within the program. 

IT Support: Some on-premise support teams may not be able to access software through the backend since it cannot be accessed via the cloud. If the support team can’t  access the software or the software isn’t frequently updated, it may take longer to resolve an issue.

Documentation & Organization: Go paperless by entering documents into the software and storing them in the cloud. Documents are encrypted and stored securely in the cloud.

Documentation & Organization: Some on-premise software cannot store documents of different file types. Additionally, solutions that allow organizations to store documents may not include a capability to back them up in a secure, encrypted manner. 

Servers & Hardware: Eliminates the hassle of maintaining the hardware infrastructure. Provides improved agility, scalability and security.

Servers & Hardware: Organizations must source their own servers/hardware and are responsible for the maintenance and security. However, they have full control of their infrastructure.

Cost: Lower upfront cost as cloud solutions are usually subscription-based and involve a monthly or annual fee for use. Extra storage can be added with no hardware to purchase. Pay for the resources in use, with none of the maintenance and upkeep costs. The price adjusts up or down depending on how much is consumed.

Cost: Lower long-term cost. One-time license fee and annual maintenance fees for on premise perpetual license models are generally lower than the cumulative recurring cost of SaaS software. No monthly costs; however, responsible for the ongoing costs of the server hardware, power consumption, and space.

Compliance: Organizations that do choose a cloud computing model must do their due diligence and ensure that their third-party provider is compliant with all of the different regulatory mandates. It is also important to consider the location of data centers and if there are requirements for data to be stored in a specific country.

Compliance: It is the organizations responsibility to ensure data stored meets all privacy and compliancy regulations.

 

How to make the right decision for your organization

When deciding whether to go Cloud or on-premise, it is important to evaluate your business needs first. Remember, what is best for some might not work very well on your business, so it is imperative to do a lot of research before deciding. Consider the pain points that you want to address by adding a field service solution. Make sure you get a solution that not only solves those problems but has the ability to grow with your operation.  Avoid getting a system that works for now but will become obsolete in the future.

For Field Service managers to understand the full scope of their software needs, they need to consider more than cost. With growing advancements in cloud-based technology, Software as a Service (SaaS) deployments are emerging as a best practice for organizations looking for the most functionality at the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). SaaS gives businesses the flexibility to achieve what they need without the burden of paying for and maintaining a server on-premises.

We hope this article is a helpful resource in simplifying the Cloud solution, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) versus On-Premise implementation decision.

Struggling to find the right Field Service Management solution?

ExpandIT provides a Field Service Management solution for real-time data access and mobile technology that makes it possible to improve field services and customer satisfaction.

The ExpandIT’s solution is cloud-based and available to your entire workforce from any location, at any time, on any device. Whether you are on a tablet in an airport, in the back office, or on a mobile phone in the field, ExpandIT Essentials gives you access to critical scheduling, resource planning, and service history, and job information.