By now, the story of Microsoft and T-Mobile’s notorious Sidekick data debacle is well-known; Microsoft’s servers failed on October 2, affecting some of the Sidekick handset users who could no longer access the mobile Internet or email. What really put things over the edge was when the Sidekick server and its backup server became corrupted in the process of restoring customer access, and the users affected by the initial outage saw all of their data erased. This incident highlights the growing debate of SaaS vs. on-premise software – something we see every day with our customer’s adopting workflow automation software.
Traditionalists favor on-premise software deployment because it’s familiar, however, the flexibility of being able to host enterprise applications in-house and customize them to suit a particular environment is tremendously liberating. Having solutions on-premise may seem like a more secure way of doing business – by keeping all data within a company’s physical walls. However, SaaS offers some unique benefits as well. It requires no infrastructure investment and eliminates the need for installations and maintenance, which is very attractive, especially when budgets are a concern.
When events like Sidekick’s data loss occur, it unfortunately reinforces fears about the security and long term viability of SaaS. Asking whether the SaaS model is fallible is like asking if popular websites have ever suffered outages – the answer is yes. Amazon.com, Gmail, even entire countries’ servers have shut down on occasion. Some of the worries over SaaS are legitimate, but it wasn’t so long ago that organizations were questioning the security of doing business on the Internet. SaaS must go through a similar process and earn trust and acceptance, which it will.
Many of our customers have cited “affordability” and “user-friendliness” as major reasons for selecting PerfectForms’ SaaS version. One customer, Trilliant, selected PerfectForms via SaaS for its “simplicity.” Another, Visalia Unified School District, needed a solution that could be easily deployed over a secure Intranet system so they selected an on-premise version.
Offering both on-demand and on-premise gives our customers the ability to choose whichever option they feel best suits their needs. Forcing one model upon customers and prospects doesn’t acknowledge the incredible disparities in size, function and composition that separate different groups.
Remember – whether you’re a startup with 5 employees or a multinational conglomerate of 50,000, choose the software deployment option that you feel will be of the greatest benefit to your organization.
If you’ve made a choice to use or not to use a SaaS application for your business, I’d like to know what challenges you faced in making that decision.