You have decided that you need a project management tool to run your business. But when you started searching for the right solution, you may have come across a major dilemma - is it better to use a self-hosted or a cloud based application?
Being in the business of developing and selling a project management tool for more then six years now, we can give you some tips based on our own experience. When we started working on our project management software, we offered a self-hosted solution only. However, we have decided to develop cloud based project management as well. Having had experience with both platforms, this is what we have come to learn so far.
When people start choosing between a self-hosted and cloud based project management tool, they usually have the following concerns:
The last thing anyone wants is to get their important business information disclosed to a wrong person or to the public.
Cloud: With cloud based apps, security is top priority for the service provider. By choosing the right company, with good recommendations, you can be sure that a team of experts will take care of your sensitive business data. Cloud service providers do their best to keep data safe and secure (after all, their own business depends on it). From our own experience, there is a large number of users who just wish to log in and start working, while leaving our team to take care of their data and other security related issues.
Self-hosted: Self-hosted solutions are placed on your own servers, where you are in control. If you have an in-house server, that is even better. You can be in charge of your setup, bandwidth, storage… you are the one who is in control and determining the level of security. Be it a personal preference or the nature of your business, in case you need full control, the self-hosted option is the right one for you. During the 6 years of operation on the market, we have often met customers who had very strict data exposure and storage policies. Such rules narrowed down their choices to an in-house project management tool.
Another big issue when it comes to deciding between a self-hosted or a cloud based tool. Like any other server based solution, keeping your project management application up to date can be a bit tricky.
Cloud: By choosing a cloud project management tool, you may not even notice (unless you come across a notification) that it has been upgraded. You will alwaus be working in the latest and the most stable environment. If you are not tech savvy, or if you do not have enough time to take care of the system, the cloud version is the right choice for you. The only thing that needs to be maintained, in this case, is the clutter in your projects.
Self-hosted: With a self-hosted application, you are the one who needs to do the update every time and stay informed about the release cycle. A fun fact is that some customers really enjoy doing this. Of course, there are others who do not like to do the upgrade themselves due to the potential issues that can arise. Even if our tech support team is here to help out, upgrades can sometimes cause a lot of frustration.
Concern for many businesses, especially in the creative field. Companies who do design, media production, architecture or marketing, are often working with a large number of files (that can get really big in size), so storage requirements are often a problem.
Cloud: In most cases, cloud services are limited in their storage size. But if you do not work with massive files, a cloud subscription can meet your demands just fine. Some systems even offer the possibility to get more space on demand, or reward users with additional space. This approach can be great because you can expand your storage as your projects become more demanding.
Self-hosted: In our case, the self-hosted edition has no file number or size limit within your projects. We came across setups with huge data sets (tens or even hundreds of gigabytes in some cases). So if you are in need of large storage capacity, choosing a self-hosted version may be the wisest choice.
The number of users
This can be a crucial point when making your decision. You need to have the ability to include all the important people to collaborate with you on your projects. After all, they are the most important asset that you have.
Cloud: Cloud based solutions limit the number of users involved. If you work with a small team of people, this is not an obstacle. Sometimes, project management tools make a distinctions between the roles of users inside the system (so you can have a staff member, client, sub-contractor, etc.) and offer different pricing, or even the option to include a certain group of users for free. This way, you can increase the number of users as your team grows.
Self-hosted: Self-hosted solutions can limit the number of users, but that is usually not the case. The option to bring everyone on board can be really great and it can help you get your projects done more efficiently. Users with diverse teams and a great number of sub-contractors are the ones who value this option the most. Just be careful - you may not want your virtual office to become overcrowded.
Cloud: For the cloud based versions, you pay as you go - a monthly subscription tailored to your current needs. Small and medium size businesses usually go with such a solution. They are relatively flexible and can switch to other packages as their business evolves much more easily than large corporations can. But there are exceptions, so it is really up to you to choose the option that fits your budget best.
Self-hosted: Pay more money at the start and use a self-hosted solution. At least in our case, the self-hosted version license has a one time fee. Usually, but this is not a general rule, this type of licensing is preferred by large organizations and companies with specific business needs. You might also prefer to pay once and “own” the tool that you are working with.
Based on our experience, these are some of the most common questions that (potential) customers have. If you have similar concerns, the best way to make a decision is to perform a needs analysis and to consider all the aspects of your business.
After all, project management is all about organization, and you can start getting organized by making a right decision on the type of platform that you wish to use.