On-premise vs. Hosted Cloud-Based Solutions

by Lance Merker on November 05, 2014

OU Campus cloudToday, “cloud-based” software solutions are gaining ground over “on-premise” software solutions for many enterprise systems used by colleges and universities. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest is probably service. A cloud-based enterprise system isn’t just about software. Utilizing the cloud rather than traditional on-premise software (software that’s purchased outright then installed on campus servers) releases the institution from the burden of hardware purchases, as well as installation and maintenance of the hardware and software.

In the case of on-premise enterprise software purchases, the cost for both the hardware and software can be many times the cost of a cloud-based license. And, because cloud-based companies build their entire business model around the high-availability delivery of their product, these cloud-based companies go out of their way to offer exceptional service. For example, our goal at OmniUpdate is to support and service our OU Campus cloud-based CMS better than our customers could if they purchased the software, and then installed and serviced it themselves. Ambitious, but we've been able to do this by finely tuning our corporate culture to focus entirely on our customers.

Unlike traditional software companies that sell software then try to sell upgrades or professional services down the road, cloud-based software companies work continuously with their customers – even going so far as to become the de facto help desk support for their customers’ users. This is a win-win because the customers get support from those who know the product best, and the vendor learns so much more about their customers than they would by talking to them solely through sales upgrade conversations every few years. For instance, at OmniUpdate, we get to know every one of our customers. We listen carefully when they tell us how we can improve our product and service. We learn exactly why our customers need what they’re asking for (not just a list of requests). And, when we discuss our customers internally, more often than not we refer to them by their first names. This approach helps us provide increasingly better service and technical support. It helps us build a product that matches our customers’ real needs.

Also, unlike traditional enterprise software, a cloud-based service vendor always performs up to the specifications promised. By design, every customer that uses a cloud-based service realizes the optimal performance the software was designed to deliver because it’s the people who designed the software that keep it tuned to perfection. In contrast, keeping up with software and hardware optimization through a myriad of possible configurations that are unique to each customer’s environment is rarely done to perfection. Combine that with the challenges associated with hardware upgrades, OS security patches and hot-fixes, and not to mention software updates.

On-premise Cloud-based
Possible hardware purchases, plus installation and maintenance costs Vendor takes care of hardware maintenance for optimal software performance
Institution does its best to offer up-time availability  Vendor guarantees up-time availability
Dedicated staff is needed for maintenance/support High-quality IT support from those who know the product best
Occasional upgrade conversations with sales Continual discussions to make sure product is performing to the specifications promised

It’s no wonder so many on-premise enterprise software packages are running in a less than optimal state on campuses – sometimes without anyone realizing how much better tuned the systems could be if done perfectly. For example, at OmniUpdate one of the comments we hear all the time from our customers is that we run our cloud-based CMS more effectively overall than many of the other on-premise enterprise class systems they run themselves. This is possible because of all the points described above, but it’s not easy. Our operations team works around the clock to ensure that the best possible experience is realized by all of our customers. Why? Because that’s the service oriented nature of our business. And, because we love it when our customers are surprised and delighted by the results!


Want to learn more about cloud usage? Check out this infographic that our partner, nuCloud, shared in their blog post—The Cloud and Higher Education.

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