A few years ago, we’d have thought that online subscriptions of Software as a Service for enterprise software was something destined for more modestly sized clients. If you were a few dozen or a few hundred users, then your organization might not have had a full-blown IT team or a comprehensive data center. The promise of completely managed software in a service business would have been more attractive to such organizations we’d have thought.
That was then, and this is now.
In today’s IT world, organizations of all sizes are rethinking how they look at the On-Line vs. On-Premise decision. The efficiency of online services and the infrastructure organizations that support them mean that software of all sizes can be attractive in a hosted environment plus the security attached to many Software as a Service (SaaS) infrastructures is often daunting for an internal IT department to compete with.
There are compelling reasons however to select either Online or OnPrem. Let’s consider a few:
Why install on Premise?
There are many potential reasons for installing a product on your own premises.
Many Software as a Service systems including TimeControl have API modules that allow programming access to many of the functions. No system however, opens every single possible function into their API. It’s not because programmers don’t want to but there is a cost/benefit consideration when creating such functions. In TimeControl for example, you can use the API to populate all the major tables. But there are other functions such as those for maintenance that are not accessible programmatically. That’s because they’re only used once or rarely from time to time and therefore the cost of creating programming access to them delivers little or no benefit.
But it is certainly possible that someone might have a compelling reason to integrate with TimeControl at such an intimate level and then direct access to the database might be preferable.
Another Integration attraction is for high volume integration. When we have 500 users, the speed of the transfer of data from one system to another is so fast it’s not worth talking about. When we have 5,000 users, perhaps it is. There are some clients who might have such a high volume of data transfer that direct access to the data for moving data in or out is attractive.
The security of many subscription services is a key preoccupation of providers. It certainly is for TimeControl. We’ve written numerous white papers on the subject and also leverage the security. But security systems inside of an organization can be made even more secure. For example, an internal TimeControl instance can be made wholly inside the firewall and not be outward facing towards the Internet. Then potential attacks on it could only originate by either hacking the firewall or from inside the organization itself. In-the-cloud services including TimeControl Online are, by their very nature, accessible through the Internet.
We really, really like this version
Some clients prefer to stick with a version of software and not upgrade until they are left with no choice at all. This isn’t for everyone but in organizations where many other systems and processes depending on this system or many systems are integrated, there can be additional work implied in upgrading that may be problematic for the organization. If you install on your premises. You decide when to and if to upgrade.
Why go with Online?
Regardless of whether you are a small or large organization, there are many reasons that subscribing to an online service could be attractive.
Included in your subscription fee is the cost of updating, maintaining, securing and monitoring your system. That’s not just the maintenance for the system you are subscribing to but also all its infrastructure including the operating system, the database, malware protection, disk space, hardware performance and more. That can take a big load of work off your internal IT department.
When you are subscribing to an in-the-cloud service, your system is virtually always up to date. That’s because all the updates are done centrally by the provider. In most cases there is no cost to the upgrade or work other than internal training.
Support is easier
When you call for technical support for an in-the-cloud system, there are a couple of things that are easier for you. First of all, technical challenges like an actual malfunction of the system is much more rare because the system is shared among many clients and even more users. Plus the provider’s testing of that system happens in what is for them a perfect environment. They chose the operating system. They chose the database. They chose the network settings. They chose the anti-virus and anti-malware software. That helps make the system much more stable out of the starting blocks.
A second implied advantage for support is that you are always speaking to the support department about the same version of the product. There is never a “What exact version and build are you on?” conversation because everyone is on the same version and build. That makes tracking down a problem and determining the cause much easier for the technician and gets you back on track much faster.
What about mixed environments?
It’s possible to have some of your systems in the cloud and others on your premises. TimeControl is often deployed in a mixed environment. In some cases, TimeControl has been installed on premise and has to link to ERP and Project systems that are hosted in the cloud like Project Online. In other cases, clients are using TimeControl Online in the cloud and have to link to an internally installed project management system, BrightWork for example. With TimeControl’s flexibility that hasn’t been a problem for us thus far and there are many combinations of on-premise, in-the-cloud, and hybrid environments you might envisage.
What about the future of TimeControl?
HMS is committed to maintaining both TimeControl Online in the cloud as a service and TimeControl for purchase for on-premise installation for the foreseeable future. We want the product work how the client needs to.
We have numerous resources discussing the options of subscribing Online or Purchasing for installation on premises. You can find factsheets, webcasts and more at: TimeControl.com/how-to-buy. There is also a series of seminars on the subject on our President’s blog at: EPMGuidance.com.
There are so many possible combinations of environments that it goes well beyond what we can discuss here. If you have questions about what structure would work best for your TimeControl deployment, you should contact HMS at firstname.lastname@example.org.