In today’s marketplace there continues to be a growing reliance on web-based solutions for driving collaboration to conduct business activities within a mobilized and decentralized workforce. Business is no longer just conducted in one physical building, but spans across many people in multiple locations — including on-the-road sales teams, employees working at home, and even business partners that are located across the globe.
That’s why web conferencing and other virtual collaboration solutions will continue to grow, especially since conferencing has become the glue that bonds dispersed enterprise teams in a global economy. However, when businesses decide to deploy web conferencing, or any other technology solution, there is an important technical question they must first answer. Where will the software live?
Of course the technology options in the market today allow companies to either have their Web conference software code to reside on the vendor’s server, commonly know as the SaaS option, or to house the software on their own internal server by taking the On Premise installation route.
Within each of these options are advantages and disadvantages that organizations need to be aware of so that they make the right comparisons and ultimately the best educated decision on which option is ideal for their business model.
One of the key advantages of deploying conferencing and collaboration solutions as a SaaS option is that it is extremely easy. Most hosted technologies can be downloaded and accessed by employees across an entire organization within just a few minutes.
The timeliness and ease of deployment offers a very attractive advantage to organizations that want a quick-fix conferencing solution that does not weigh down or require large IT resources. However, SaaS comes with some key hindrances like ongoing monthly fees, access security concerns, integration with other enterprise applications/sites and limits on customization that companies need to take into account.
Ongoing monthly fees can be a key concern for those organizations looking to carefully manage an already tight budget. For example, a mid-sized organization that uses a hosted conferencing solution can easily experience thousands of dollars in monthly fees which could significantly impact the organizations’ overall telecom spend for the year.
In addition, hosted solutions have some major access security challenges since the corporate data being shared via the web conferencing solution can be accessed by anyone who has the password and meeting ID. Ponemon Institute’s 2007 Annual Study: U.S. Cost of a Data Breach indicates that 40 percent of data breaches involved third party solution providers in 2007, up from 21 percent in 2005.
Finally, the inability to customize and integrate hosted solutions can put limits on the company’s brand imaging with customers, as well as hinder the seamless flow of how technologies can be accessed internally by employees.
On the other hand, companies can choose to have their collaboration technologies deployed as an On-Premise solution allowing them to own and manage the solution in-house. Since the company owns the technology, ongoing monthly fees paid to an outside provider is no longer a concern.
In addition, by owning the technology on-site, access security concerns are significantly mitigated since the service can be managed behind the company’s corporate firewall. Furthermore, the On-Premise route opens the door for integration and customization, allowing the company to not only brand their conferencing solution, but to also integrate the technology into their current online or telephony infrastructure.
Even with all of the advantages of On-Premise technologies, this approach does offer some disadvantages that customers need to be aware of.
The On-Premise approach can be a major cost driver because it requires that companies have substantial IT resources to deploy, manage, integrate and support their technologies on an ongoing basis. The quantity of internal resources required to manage On-Premise solutions means that this option is mostly accessible to larger corporations that have bigger budgets and sizable IT departments.
But now there are other alternatives in the market to the Hosted option and the On-Premise Software route for companies to consider. Some progressive companies have started developing conferencing and collaboration solutions that actually combine all of the benefits of the Hosted option, with all of the advantages of the On-Premise approach, into one solution, by introducing an On-Premise Plug and Play Appliance option into the web conferencing arena.