Cloud vs. on-premise shipping and mailing solutions: Six ways to choose the right fit for your company

By Aaron Videtto, Director, Office Shipping Solutions

When you’re selecting a shipping or mailing solution for your business, you need to make sure you’re choosing a product from a reputable, trusted provider. More importantly, it’s essential to determine whether a cloud-based or on-premise solution best fits your needs.

In short, an on-premise solution is a type of software delivery model that’s installed and operated within your company’s data center. Cloud-based solutions -- also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) -- are accessed via the internet. Typically, they’re securely hosted and maintained by a third-party vendor.

The decision between cloud and on-premise is often driven by your company’s IT department, or lack thereof. In some cases, IT may be looking to control costs by offloading certain solutions to the cloud, so there are fewer servers to maintain and update. There may also be certain applications that IT would rather have on-premise because of perceived concerns like performance, data protection and compliance -- where they have greater and more immediate control and oversight.

To make sure your organization chooses the right shipping and mailing solution, here are six areas to consider when deciding between cloud and on-premise.

01.  Customization and integrations

If the ability to customize your applications is very important, you’re better off with an on-premise solution. On-premise solutions from Pitney Bowes often provide a full range of customization, enabling you to modify workflows, create custom rules and build custom integrations to back end systems.

For example, if you have a custom ERP system -- such as SAP or Oracle -- and need business-specific information to be sent back and forth between the two systems, an on-premise solution is often the best choice. Likewise, if you need custom code, integrations or workflows, you should opt for an on-premise solution.

If you’re able to accomplish what you need with simple configuration changes, then cloud is a good fit for you. Generally, with cloud-based offerings, there’s not a lot of opportunity for customization, but there is the ability to configure the solution to fit your needs. Although this is starting to change with some configuration options in the cloud environment, cloud still doesn’t have the same range of customization that on-premise provides now.

02.  Security

When it comes to security, on-premise and cloud solutions are looking more and more similar. They both offer a number of important security features, like dual-authentication methods and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) single sign-on with corporate network domain controllers. Both on-premise and cloud solutions can have very strict password reset and maintenance policies. 

That being said, using an on-premise solution means that you have full control over data protection procedures. This includes ensuring compliance with the relevant security requirements. If you’re choosing a cloud solution, there are a number of questions you can ask potential providers about their security measures to double check that they’re a safe choice. For starters, cloud-based solutions should be hosted in highly secure, world-class facilities with features like physical building security, a secure network and around-the-clock monitoring.

Make sure to choose a cloud provider that meets security standards based on the ENISA and FFIEC guidelines, applied to both product development and deployment procedures. The best IT security practices and standards include: SOC 1/SSAE 16/SAE 3402; SOC 2; SOC 3; FISMA, DIACAP and FedRAMP; PCI DSS Level 1; ISO 27001; ISO 9001; ITAR; and FIPS 140-2.

03.  Deployment time and costs

For many organizations, long deployment times are not just a frustration; they can slow down essential business processes. If you ever struggle with deployment, moving to the cloud may be the answer. Also, it’s not uncommon that your internal IT costs might outweigh the cost of the software they’re hosting for you, making it cost prohibitive to move forward with your project.

Cloud-based deployment is simple and quick to get up and running. Fast rollout combined with easy to use workflows and screens also means that training can be minimized to some extent. Cloud-based deployments reduce the overall implementation time of projects, enabling your business to realize value sooner than traditional on-premise deployments.

It’s important to involve your IT department early on in a discussion about cloud because they’ll have questions -- typically around security – that’ll need to be answered before allowing your cloud application to run on their network.

04.  Integration

Applications with few or standard interfaces are the best candidates to move to the cloud. Integration types can be limited in a cloud environment, where standardization is key.

If you have multiple highly integrated applications with complex connections to legacy systems, it’s best to use an on-premise solution. While these types of applications would require significant migration investment to move to the cloud, it’s relatively easy to deal with them on-premise.

05.  Scalability

Typically, cloud-based solutions reside in cloud environments that are automatically scalable. As the demands of your business change, most cloud-based services -- such as Amazon Web Services -- allow you to scale up or down automatically as needed.

However, if you’re using on-premise, you would need to manually adjust your hardware, software and network configuration to match that level of flexibility. In the cloud, scalability is seamless and headache-free, so you can focus on what you do best: providing quality services to customers.

06.  Cost and payment method

While solutions of both types range in price, there’s a major difference when it comes to payment plan. With on-premise, you pay upfront – typically with a bigger price tag, while cloud-based options are often cheaper and offer ‘pay as you go’ or monthly payment plans. This initial low-cost, low-entry point is appealing to many organizations.

In addition, when you install an on-premise solution, you’re committed to it. On the other hand, cloud-based solutions are much more flexible and allow you to participate in a free trial before you buy.

Ultimately, the decision between cloud and on-premise comes down to the needs of your core business, as well as your IT department. To make sure you choose the right one, keep these six areas of consideration in mind.

Pitney Bowes offers a suite of on-premise solutions, like SendSuite Live and SendSuite Tracking, and cloud-based solutions, like SendSuite Tracking Online and PitneyShip™ shipping software. Our team of shipping specialists will help evaluate your business needs and determine whether an on-premise solution or cloud-based solution is right for you.

Request a complimentary evaluation today.

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