Cloud CRM vs On Premise

female cloud architect

What is an on-premise CRM?

An on-premise CRM is a customer relationship management a SaaS (Software as a Service)application that resides on your server, not the vendor's. The vendor in this case is the company or bad ass developer who created and owns the application.

On premise installations still require a payment for use as cloud offerings do. The main difference between on-premise and cloud-based crm is that you will be responsible for system availability, security, and rolling out patches/updates with an on premise solution (depending on your service agreement).

Before installing the application on your server, you should consult the vendor's specification sheet to ensure your environment can accommodate it. Here are some examples of what you should verify.

  • Programming Language Version, i.e. PHP v7.4 and above
  • Server Versions, i.e. Windows 2016+
  • RAM requirements, i.e. 8GB+
  • Storage space, i.e. 15GB+
  • Compatible SQL database version
  • Minimum CPU speed

Failing to meet the minimum requirements for the environment may result in your installation performing poorly or not functioning at all. A little prep work up front can help save you money and significant headaches down the road.

How much does an on premise CRM cost?

An on premise CRM can be cheaper than a cloud based one, depending on your current environment, and available technical resources. If you decide to go the on premise route you will need someone to maintain your server as well as an individual to manage the CRM.

Since you will probably want to customize your CRM and integrate it with other services via an API, you won't be able to hire a CRM Administrator alone. You're going to need to enlist the services of a developer unless you are willing to pay a vendor for all customizations.

In most cases, it's cheaper to just bump up the salary of developers at your organization up and have them handle the custom work. The vendor will have more expertise but is likely going to charge more than an in-house resource will cost you.

Here is a breakdown of the people you need for a successful on premise CRM installation.

  • A CRM Administrator
  • Developer familiar with the programming language/framework the app is built in as well as API development
  • A Server Administrator

Even if your budget won't allow for all these resources now, it should be something you keep in mind. In general, you should always build things to scale. It would really suck to go through all the trouble of winning a ton of business and lose it because your tech infrastructure could not accommodate growth.

How do I secure an on premise CRM?

You would secure an on premise CRM the same way you would secure any other application. A CRM is not unique in terms of attack vectors.

You will want to ensure you have the latest OS security patches and updates in place for your server. In addition, you will need to run anti-virus software and have strong authentication measures in place.

Ensure frequent backups of the database as done so you don't lose valuable data due to a cluster crashing. You should also take snapshots of the application files itself but at a much less frequent interval

The core application files don't change often so you don't need to waste resources by constantly backing them up. However, you should back the files up before you perform any upgrades or patches.

Even the most thoroughly tested patches can crash systems so you will want to have a safe set of files to roll back into production.

Should I get an on premise CRM?

If you have the technical resources and a valid reason, an on premise CRM installation could be a great resource. The only valid use case I can think of for opting out of a cloud based CRM is that you don't trust the vendors to secure your data.

People in heavily regulated industries like healthcare and banking might not want to trust a vendor with ensuring the safety and availbility of their data. Violations for breaches are steep from the various governmental agencies, as such, you may not want to put your company's fate in someone else's hands.

What is a cloud based CRM?

A cloud based CRM is a customer relationship application who's code base resides on the vendor's server. With this type of CRM the burden of security, uptime, and backups resides solely on the vendor.

This type of installation is the most common and for good reason. For the cost of a subscription you don't have to worry about anything other than using the application to run your business.

The only downside is that you will need to trust the vendor to protect your company's data. If you are thorough in your selection process, you should run across a vendor that you can trust.

Transparency is almost as important as functionality when it comes to CRM vendors. I have some horror stories about companies losing months of data from vendors due to a shady contract.

For my company, I provide full database backups for customers upon request. Always remember that your data is your data!

It really should only belong to you, no one else.

How do I get my data out of a cloud based CRM?

In most applications, you have the ability to download an Excel file of your data. But, you will probably have to do so module by module as there is likely no way to do a one-time dump.

This is where you have to rely on your vendor. A decent, honest one will provide this data for you, no questions asked. Be very concerned if the vendor tells you some of your data cannot be exported.

There is nothing that your company created within cloud based CRM that should not be exported to you. Granted, this may come with a charge since it's not a normal report and will require a number of complex queries to compile.

But, no matter the level of effort, the export should be given to you.

Matt Irving is the CEO of Super Easy Tech, LLC.
Matt is the CEO of Super Easy Tech and creator of Super Easy CRM. He is a passionate software engineer, tech blogger, and gamer. Feel free to connect on any of the platforms listed below.

Posted by: Matt Irving on 11/23/2022