4 Things To Consider When Choosing Between Enterprise Or Cloud

When we get calls or enquiries on the room booking system solution, the caller is always in a dilemma between choosing the cloud based subscription model or the enterprise model. To help put this dilemma to rest, we have written this short article on how to go about choosing between the cloud based subscription model and the enterprise license. Today, most of the people are aware of the difference between the two models thanks to the burgeoning software-as-a-service (SaaS) type of businesses that have taken the internet by storm. However, in this article, we would like to provide a short description of the model, their advantages and disadvantages and how to go about choosing the software model.

Software Subscription Service


In this model of usage, the customer is provided with an internet facing site that is available to their staff to login and performing booking of meeting rooms. The software is multi-tenant, meaning that several customers share the same system. The diagram above shows the typical layout of the cloud based software-as-a-service or subscription based model. In this diagram, each customer has access to the same site using their own credentials.

The advantages of using a subscription service is:

  1. No upfront capital expenditure to install the software as it is accessible from the internet.
  2. No need to purchase hardware, associated software and network infrastructure.
  3. No need to have technical staff who need to manage the system.
  4. All your need is an internet connection and a browser.

The pricing is based on usage and can be considered as part of the operating expense of the organisation. The servers, software and other infrastructure are all maintained by us and we provide service levels based on the underlying cloud provider’s service levels, in this case, Microsoft Windows Azure.

The disadvantage is:

  1. No customisation is possible.
  2. No integration is possible.

This model is typically used by companies who do not want to manage the system and who have less number of rooms and users to justify purchase of servers and software to run the system.

Enterprise Model


In this model, the customer purchases the right to install the software on their own servers. This is typically how the old-world software usage is done. Once purchased, the software is installed on the customer’s own servers and is run off of their network. This system can run within the intranet only or can be a combination of intranet and internet facing site depending on the usage scenario. The diagram above shows that the booking system is typically installed within their corporate network. While some may use it as a purely intranet based system, others may open up their system for external bookings through the internet.

The advantage of using this method is:

  1. No limits on the number of rooms, users and bookings.
  2. Ability to customise the system.
  3. Ability to link to external systems.
  4. Compliance with internal security and privacy policies.

The disadvantage of this method is:

  1. The need to have servers, database software, network infrastructure.
  2. The need for technical staff to support the above infrastructure.
  3. Patches and bug fixes take a longer time as it has to be done on-site.

Enterprise licenses are usually used by large organisations that have a lot of rooms, hundreds of users and there is a need to link to other systems.

Dedicated Cloud Hosting Model


In this model, the organisation purchases a license for the system but prefers to run the system on the internet or cloud as a separate instance. In the diagram shown above, each of the customer runs the system from the internet, but in their own sand-boxed instance of the server.

The advantage of using this method is:

  1. No need to purchase hardware, associated software and network infrastructure.
  2. No need to have technical staff who need to manage the system.
  3. All your need is an internet connection and a browser.
  4. Ability to customise.
  5. Ability to integrate with business systems.

The disadvantage is:

  1. The hosting costs and licensing charges may be too much.
  2. Unlimited rooms, users and bookings come at the cost of paying for the storage space for the data and the bandwidth.
  3. Special firewall rules need to be put in place if there is any customisation so that the system can talk to internal systems.

How To Choose The Model


When choosing a particular model, a few items need to be considered.

A) Security & Privacy Concerns


In most small companies security and privacy of data may not be a critical issue. Considering the wide spread use of Google Docs, Gmail, Evernote and DropBox, small and medium sized businesses are comfortable placing their information on the internet. However, for larger organisations like banks, ministries and other multi-national corporations, compliance and security policies are very tight. In such cases, the organisation may choose to host the system within their own network so that they can house the data within their own servers.

B) Integration Requirements


Large organisations have a variety of systems that house individual information that may be needed for the room booking system to function. For example, Active Directory authentication, SAP HR system for the latest staff information, Finance System to post charges, Content Management Systems such as SharePoint to push event data to the corporate intranet or interfacing with building automation systems. All these require that the room booking system talk to these third-party systems. Opening up these systems to the internet is usually restricted by policy. So, in this case, the room booking system should be housed within the enterprise.

C) Customization Requirements


If you need to customise the business rules based on your specific needs or some new functionality that must be added on to the existing system, then an enterprise model or the dedicated cloud hosting model is favoured.

D) Resource Limitations


If you are not certain about the number of resources, users and bookings and project that it will increase in time, then an enterprise model is must better.

Concluding

The type of implementation will largely depend on what your needs are. If you need total control over the system and security is of prime importance, then an enterprise licensing model is the best. If you do not need any integrations but need customisation of the functionality or business rules, then a dedicated cloud hosting platform is most suitable. If you just need a system to help you manage the rooms and resources and are comfortable with the existing features, then a subscription based model will be fine.

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