The software you choose to power your OOH business can have a lasting impact on your bottom line. While there are many different providers and offerings, most software falls into one of two categories – ‘Cloud-Hosted’ or ‘On-Premise’.
There are a host of differences that you’ll want to weigh up before you make a choice. The easiest way to wrap your head around these differences is to use a comparison we’re all familiar with – the vehicles you use to get around.
But before we buckle up and get going, we need a quick explanation of the difference between ‘The ‘Cloud’, and ‘Cloud-Hosted’ software. Because these terms are often, incorrectly, used interchangeably.
What’s the difference between ‘The Cloud’ and ‘Cloud-Hosted’ software?
‘The Cloud’ refers to the technical infrastructure and services that store, manage and process data. This infrastructure is physically housed in remote data centres containing many servers connected to the internet. These services are rented, usually by technical teams or companies, from anywhere that has an internet connection. Companies that provide these services include Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform.
Cloud-Hosted software refers to the applications built by technical teams using the ‘The Cloud’s’ technical infrastructure. They create an application that is stored in ‘The Cloud’ and accessed by a user, like you or me, by logging into an internet browser.
There are three major types of ‘Cloud-Hosted’ software: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). The type most relevant to OOH is Software-as-a-Service, the second two are primarily for technical IT people, so in this article, we’ll focus on SaaS.
Now, back to our comparison.
On-Premise software is like owning your own car
‘On-Premise’ software is any software application that you buy a license for and have installed locally on servers you own and manage on your property.
Like when you own your own car, you pay an upfront cost, then own it outright. It is kept on your property and you can drive it whenever and wherever you like. But with control comes responsibility. So maintenance, security and knowing how to drive safely, falls on you.
SaaS is like booking a flight
Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a standalone application designed for any person to access and use, through a web browser on your computer. You might have used products like Gmail, Salesforce or Trello. All three are SaaS products.
Like when you book a flight, you only pay for the flights you book. You are in charge of the destination but are guided on the best route by an expert pilot. You have your own seat on the plane, but ride with others, and must check in at the airport with your passport to take the flight.
One of the greatest advantages of SaaS is that by joining other passengers, you receive a more powerful service that can goes further than your car. You also have a dedicated team of pilots, stewards, security staff and engineers who ensure the service performs to the highest possible standards. Plus, if your destination changes, it’s very easy to change flight or book additional seats!
Could I buy ‘On-Premise’ software then host it in ‘The Cloud’?
It’s rare, but this is an option and is a bit like leasing a car. You hold the keys and can drive it wherever you like. Insurance, repairs and upgrades are managed by the leasing company.
Your options compared
|On-Premise||Cloud-Hosted (SaaS)||On-Premise Hosted in The Cloud|
|Ownership||One-off, upfront license fee & monthly support fee.||Pay-as-you-go subscription which includes updates and support.||Software: One-off, upfront license fee & monthly support fee.
Hardware: Pay-as-you-go subscription
|Host Location||On your servers, on your property.||Hosted in ‘The Cloud’ via the vendor’s hardware in specialised data centres.||Hosted in ‘The Cloud’ via the vendor’s hardware in specialised data centres.|
|Availability||Hardware must be installed and configured before use.||Available as soon as you have paid.||Access to hardware is available immediately, software needs to be installed and configured.|
|Access||Software is installed locally on the computers you’ll use it from.||Can be accessed via a web browser from anywhere, on any device, using a username and password.||Software is installed locally on the computers you’ll use it from.|
|Customisation||Highly customisable (although usually at a cost) and you retain full control over hardware and data.||An out-of-the-box solution means it is not very customisable. Vendor controls the hardware on your behalf.||Highly customisable (although usually at a cost) and you retain full control over hardware and data.|
|Performance||Dependent on your infrastructure’s performance and local network latency.||Equipped with high-performance computing systems guaranteeing low network latency.||Dependent on your infrastructure’s performance and local network latency.|
|Software Updates||Not always included in your license and must be carried out manually in-house.||Included in your subscription price and are made by your vendor automatically.||Not always included in your license and must be carried out manually in-house.|
|Scalability and Upgrades||Difficult and slow to scale and dependent on hardware capabilities.||The vendor has built-in scalability so can be scaled up or down with a few clicks.||Limited scalability, as only the hardware is easy to scale.|
|Maintenance||You are responsible for maintenance and must keep a trained in-house team or pay for a consultant.||The vendor is responsible for all maintenance which happens automatically.||You are responsible for maintenance and must keep a trained in-house team or pay for a consultant.|
|Security||You are responsible for managing security, threats and data protection.||Your vendor keeps your hardware in specially designed data centres with premium security and backup systems.||You are responsible for managing security, threats and data protection.|
It’s clear there are pros and cons with both types – it simply depends on your business. But what’s also clear is the trend toward cloud-hosting. 77% of UK organisations currently use ‘The Cloud’ to power everything from storage to finance.
As many media owners embark on a tech overhaul, now’s the time to decide whether ‘On-Premise’ or ‘Cloud-Hosted’ is right for you. For more information, or to discuss your options, get in touch, we’re always happy to offer advice.