Strategic ERP Decisions: Cloud-Based vs On-Premise

Key points

  • On-premise ERP systems are hosted within a company’s own infrastructure, giving complete control over customization and data security. This option is ideal for businesses in highly regulated industries or those handling sensitive information but requires significant upfront investment and ongoing maintenance.
  • Cloud ERP systems are hosted online, offering accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. They are generally less expensive to start, with costs spread over time as a subscription. Updates are automatic, and the provider manages security and maintenance.
  • Cloud ERP offers flexibility and scalability, simplifying IT requirements and allowing businesses to focus on core functions. The emergence of hybrid models provides a tailored approach that combines the benefits of both cloud and on-premise systems.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have grown increasingly central for managing daily business operations, enabling efficiency, agility, and data-driven decision-making.

But when leveraging the benefits of ERP software for your business, a critical decision looms for companies large and small: choosing between cloud-based ERP systems and on-premise ERP solutions. 

This guide is designed to cut through the complexity, offering a clear comparison of cloud-based versus on-premise ERP systems. You’ll learn about the unique characteristics of each, delving into the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision tailored to your business needs.

Differentiating cloud and on-premise ERP 

Despite what seems like a straightforward distinction, the difference between cloud and on-premise ERPs can be confusing, especially with the increasing surge in digital adoption and hybrid ERP models that blend elements of both.

Here’s a breakdown of what each of these ERP setups offer:

On-premise ERP

On-premise ERP is hosted entirely within a company’s own infrastructure. This means the software and all associated data are housed on servers owned and maintained by the company itself. This arrangement places all the control in the hands of the company, from the customization of the software to the management of data security.

On-premise ERP system.

This level of control is particularly appealing to businesses operating within highly regulated industries or those handling sensitive information. Overseeing every aspect of the ERP system can provide an added layer of security and compliance assurance. 

However, it’s important to note that this control comes with a price. On-premise ERPs:

  • Typically require a substantial upfront investment in hardware, software, and skilled IT staff to manage the system. Depending on a business’s scale and specific needs, the long-term costs could be more favorable than recurring cloud-based subscriptions.
  • Necessitate regular manual updates and upgrades critical for maintaining security and adding new features. Implementing this requires a dedicated internal IT team, which can be both resource- and time-intensive.
  • Pose limitations in terms of remote access. Unlike cloud-based solutions, accessing the ERP system outside the office can be difficult. This creates challenges for businesses with a distributed workforce or those adopting flexible working arrangements.

Cloud ERP

Cloud ERP, a form of SaaS (Software as a Service), lives on the internet. Instead of having all your files in a safe in your building, they’re stored safely online.

Cloud ERP system.

With cloud ERP, you only need an internet connection and a web browser to manage your business operations from anywhere in the world. Here’s why this makes things a lot easier:

  • Usually cheaper to start with because you’re basically renting space on someone else’s servers.
  • Updates and new features get added automatically, so you always have the latest version without doing it yourself.
  • Your team can access everything from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. 
  • Cloud ERP providers use strong security measures and take care of backups, so if anything goes wrong, your data can be recovered quickly.

Cloud ERP can be implemented under various models, each offering a range of benefits from reduced initial investment to automatic updates and enhanced collaboration capabilities. These systems are particularly appealing for small to medium-sized businesses or companies looking to minimize their IT overhead while still leveraging a powerful, integrated management system.

Key factors to consider when selecting an ERP model 

Total cost of ownership (TCO)

💰 It’s important to note that both options have hidden costs, like training or extra features, so it’s necessary to look at the long-term costs, not just the initial price.

Deployment time

The time to deploy an ERP system can significantly impact a business’s ability to adapt and innovate:

Performance, flexibility, and scalability



System upgrades and changes 

As you can see, while cloud ERP appeals to businesses looking for ease of staying current with less operational disruption, on-premise ERP caters to those needing deep customization at the cost of more complex updates and potential downtime.

Summing up the advantages and disadvantages of cloud ERP vs on-premise ERP

Advantages and disadvantages of cloud ERP

Advantages and disadvantages of on-premise ERP

Choosing the right ERP for your business

The decision between cloud and on-premise depends on your business’s specific needs, budget, and technological infrastructure.

For many businesses, the inherent flexibility and scalability of cloud ERP systems make them a compelling choice, simplifying IT requirements and enabling a focus on core business functions rather than infrastructure management. The advent of hybrid models offers a tailored approach, combining the best of both worlds of cloud and on-premise hosting to accommodate different workloads, regulatory requirements, or data sensitivity. 

To help you with all your ERP needs, Liquid Web stands ready to assist, offering deep expertise in IT solutions and a commitment to empowering businesses through technology. As you move forward, consider how the right ERP model can facilitate not just effective business management but also drive innovation, efficiency, and growth.

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