As a business leader, you have an obligation to commit to the best, most secure, valuable and accessible tools that allow your team to focus on doing their actual jobs (not wasting time with admin tasks). The “better investment” this year, without a doubt, is cloud computing over on-premise infrastructures. Cloud computing falls into three categories: software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
The basic difference between an on-premise system and SaaS or PaaS is that on-premise solutions are installed locally on your company's hardware and servers and then managed by your IT team while a cloud solution is provided to you as a service, inherently reducing the total cost of ownership of your software infrastructure.
Due to the nature of cloud computing, SaaS and PaaS allow your business to operate at the forefront of software development, which means that moving from on-premise infrastructure benefits not only the company's wallet, but also create a considerable increase in efficiency, productivity and accessibility of business operations. According to BCSG, 64% of SMBs were using cloud-based apps in 2016, and adoption is expected to increase to 88% in the next two to three years. This means that most companies now use at least one form of SaaS in their business, making SaaS one of the most widely used forms of cloud delivery among enterprises today. Companies like Direct Commerce offer state-of-the art SaaS solutions and here are the top five reasons for any business to update their on-premise system to a cloud-based system:
Initial costs of a cloud-based setup are typically much lower than on-premise systems because you only need to implement the software to your requirements and then access it through your computer's internet connection. Although the process takes much less time to implement than an on-premise solution, time is still a factor when budgeting for your new cloud solution, along with training and support. Each platform and consulting firm has its own support rates, so you must make sure to shop around for a solution that will best suit your budget and needs.
No hardware maintenance or repairs are necessary. Cloud services offer multiple timed incremental backups in case you need to rollback. Downtimes, if any, have a low impact because software providers have access to a much larger workforce than what most companies have access to, which will put any failure back on track in very little time. Restoring and data backup are also taken care of by the data centers.
Your IT team will spend a lot of time and money maintaining an on-premise system and administering regular check-ups to avoid unnecessary downtime and ensure the system is up and running when you need it. You must ensure regular backups and do a full disaster recovery test to ensure you are not backing up any corrupted data. The costs of proper ventilation for your servers and hardware -- not to mention repairs -- must also be considered.
Rooms for servers, hardware and the in-house IT team are required for on-premise systems. Wiring, electricity and ventilation for those rooms also need to be installed and maintained for proper temperature and humidity control. In the case of cloud-based systems, no extra physical space is necessary, and server security is in the hands of the vendors, who are generally heavily secured with biometric access devices and state-of-the-art hardware for commercial use. Additional security needs can also be predetermined with the vendor prior to purchasing.
4. System Upgrades
Seamless upgrades are done by your cloud service provider, which ensures you're using the most up-to-date version of the software without needing to reimplement any of your preset features.
With on-premise systems, some software can be customized, but those customizations are typically linked to your current software deployment and are not easily portable to future versions. As upgrades become available, your customizations might not be portable to future versions. When it's time for your system to be upgraded, your IT team will have to test all customizations and redeploy the system across the various users' computers if it’s installed locally on workstations.
5. Time Management And Performance
Cloud-solution deployment time is almost nil in comparison to on-premise systems. You can deploy a cloud-based system across multiple regions, subsidiaries, and divisions, avoiding the cost associated with those rollouts. No additional hardware is needed, which means you don't have to waste time procuring and installing IT infrastructure and VPN access across multiple sites. You can add more users as your business grows without ever thinking about improving the hardware. Cloud-based systems are built to ensure maximum network performance and are adaptive to your needs unlike on-premise setups, where speed and performance rely on your in-house servers. This means that as your business grows, you will outgrow the server’s capacity and will have to buy and install more hardware and possibly hire and train more IT department members.
Although cloud-based platforms are more cost and time efficient, you must ensure that the software, platform, and applications you are signing up for will work cohesively. Not all software-as-a-service applications integrate with existing on-premise apps or platforms.
Thankfully, cloud-based models have made business solutions more affordable and accessible to businesses no matter their size and have considerably improved the ease of use of many business tools.
With SaaS solutions like Direct Commerce, service providers shoulder the burdens of security, availability and performance, which means these systems are a hassle-free, secure option that any company looking to thrive in 2018 should consider as a necessary improvement.