On-premise or cloud: The advantages of an SaaS solution

Is it better to purchase software or subscribe to a “service” in the cloud? Many logistics companies ask themselves this question. Although in-house servers can provide some independence, cloud solutions offer many advantages for companies.

Author: Dr. Wolf Siberski


Maintaining an in-house server is like having your own water well: At first glance, you have more independence and more freedom – after all, having a well means you aren’t dependent on the communal water supply. Well owners are protected from any breakdowns that may occur in public systems.

But this freedom comes at a high price, since independent wells have to meet high requirements. If the entire family wants to shower in the morning and there is also laundry to do, many gallons of water are required in a short period of time. To cope with these peak loads, a powerful water pump is required even if you usually only need to transport small quantities of water. If a single pump is not enough to cover the demand, additional investment becomes necessary. But if the water demand later drops because all of your children move out, this expensive investment becomes superfluous.

While having your own well offers increased autonomy, the actual availability of water on site is often less than with a central water supply. When a local pump suddenly breaks down, it can be difficult to find repairs or a replacement on short notice. No one wants to go without fresh drinking water for days on end! On the other hand, the major water suppliers have built redundancies into their systems and have emergency procedures and infrastructures to eliminate problems in the water supply rapidly and around the clock. For this reason, modern factories rarely have their own water supply infrastructure. Instead, they procure their water from the communal suppliers. In this example, they stand for the cloud and the concept of “Software as a Service”, or SaaS for short.


The hidden costs of on-premise solutions


When it comes to deciding between an on-premise solution and SaaS, decision makers often only compare the costs of software licenses with the costs for a service subscription. By doing so, they overlook the fact that license costs only represent a fraction of the total operating costs.

Costs are incurred for other areas such as high-performance servers and their maintenance: For local use of software, companies have to provide the necessary hardware infrastructure themselves. In order to achieve an availability level comparable to cloud data centers, this hardware needs to be redundant at many levels – this relates to the server, hard drives, power supply and more. For maximum utilization, robust servers are also required, which makes things less economical.


Operating costs and constant updates


System operation also costs money – not to mention time. Administrators have to monitor operation continuously and install security patches in a timely fashion. In general, they have to keep the system software up to date in order to protect against cyber attacks, for example. Additional hardware is also required for potential breakdowns in order to save backups regularly. If a loss of data occurs, procedures are required to restore the backup on new hardware.

Troubleshooting becomes complicated: Generally, companies contract various providers to take care of the hardware, system operation and application software. But if a problem occurs and it’s not clear whether the issue lies with the system software or the application software, analysis becomes a laborious matter involving multiple parties. The lines of responsibility get blurred – where there is doubt, someone else is always to blame.


The advantages of SaaS and cloud services


With SaaS solutions on the other hand, companies don’t have to worry about hardware, system software, backups and recoveries: the SaaS provider takes care of everything. And if a problem does occur, customers have a responsible contact person whom they can contact to rectify the issue. For the SaaS provider, troubleshooting and error elimination is much easier because all system levels are under their control.

The operating system SYNA.OS LOGISTICS is also available for on-premises operation. But SYNAOS expressly recommends SaaS and operation in the cloud. Apart from the advantages mentioned above, the customer receives many other benefits: If more capacity is required on short notice, these can be reserved easily and are immediately available. It is not necessary to equip any hardware or install software on additional instances. Then if less capacity is needed later on, the subscription volume can simply be reduced.


Extremely high availability


Established cloud providers such as AWS (Amazon), Azure (Microsoft) or Google guarantee extremely high availability levels from 99.5 to 99.99 percent operating time for their basic cloud services. This level is very difficult and costly to achieve with on-premise hardware. Since every level – that is, operating system, database and more – involves an additional risk of breakdown, the same software application must have lower availability if it is installed and executed on premises than when it runs in a cloud environment.

Another advantage for customers is the high level of support. SaaS providers are the best experts in their own software, after all – and the same is true for SYNAOS as well. That’s why their 2nd level support generally offers better and more expert support than general internal or contractual IT support is able to deliver.

SaaS and cloud solutions have many advantages that customers can rapidly enjoy. Furthermore, many reservations prove to be totally unfounded on closer consideration. So before you dig your own well, consult SYNAOS – and experience the benefits for yourself.