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Document Management Software: Cloud vs On-Premises

Document Management Software: Cloud vs On-Premises

When considering investing in a document management software, one of the key decision points will be whether you would like your software hosted on-premises or in the cloud. But what exactly is the difference between cloud hosted and on-premises document management software? There are various benefits to each and much of the decision will depend on your company’s needs and requirements. This article will discuss the pros and cons of cloud versus on-premises and help you decide which is the best fit for your company.

What is an On-Premises System?

On-premises document management software is installed on your company’s local server behind your firewall. Although many companies are moving away from entirely on-premises systems, there are some benefits to on-premises installations that keep companies from moving to the cloud.

Benefits of On-Premises Solutions

Complete Ownership and Control

The most notable benefit of an on-premises installation is that your documents are hosted within the premises of your organization behind your firewall. This means that if there are issues with the software, your company’s internal IT staff can address them. The data located on the in-house servers is more accessible and under the control of your company, which may provide more peace of mind to your IT team. And if there are software issues, your company may be able to handle them internally rather than involving a third party. 


For companies that need to adhere to very strict compliance standards, an on-premise solution can be beneficial. Having all of your data maintained in house makes it easy to prove compliance independently without relying on a 3rd party vendor. You can set your own policies and security and privacy standards and ensure they are being enforced within your organization.

Drawbacks of On-Premises Solutions

IT Responsibility

A major downside to an on-premises software solution is the costs and resources associated with running and managing it. Because these systems are all in-house, your company will need significant resources - software, integration competences, licenses, and technical employees - to maintain and manage it effectively. Therefore, a company needs to invest a lot of time, money, and resources to maintain its on-premises infrastructure, which can increase even further if something goes wrong.

Longer Implementation Times

As compared to a cloud solution, an on-prem solution typically requires a much longer implementation time. On-premise software generally requires the installation of hardware and software within your company with various degrees depending on your company’s infrastructure and the intended use for the system being installed. The hardware requires both a physical space on the premises of your organization and specific environments if it is to perform at maximum capacity. So, if your intended timeline for implementation is short, an on-premise solution may not be the best option for your company.

What is the Cloud?

"The cloud" refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. The primary difference between an on-premises and cloud-based solution is the location; your company hosts and manages everything in an on-premises environment, whereas, in a cloud environment, all the hosting and maintenance requirements are taken care of by a third-party provider.

Benefits of Cloud-hosted Solutions

Reduced IT Overhead

With cloud-hosted document management, companies essentially transfer the IT responsibility to vendors whose primary job is to maintain the document control application. And unlike with an on-premise solution which may take months to setup, getting your company info into the cloud can usually be completed in much less time. If you ever have questions or problems, the response time and resolution time from a vendor (who is a Document Cloud Specialist) can often be quicker than your own IT department. In addition, your system upgrades and security patches are done automatically in the cloud. 


A cloud-hosted document management system quite often offers better security practices than on-premise systems. Cyber threats are continuously evolving, and many companies fear that they do not have the time or expertise to ensure firewall and network safety on their own. With a cloud based DMS, your data is protected by multiple redundant layers of security. And, Cloud DMS vendors are constantly monitoring your environment, looking for instances of malware and hacking in real time, and continuously updating the software as new threats emerge.


Another important benefit is the scalability cloud systems allow. Often, DMS implementations start with a few users or a single department. But, as people learn about the capabilities of a DMS, usage expands to other departments or the entire company. Scaling users with an on-premise DMS may require additional hardware to provide adequate storage and processing power. With a cloud DMS, licenses can be added as needed. In a matter of minutes, users can easily be added to a cloud-based system. An on-premise system does not allow this type of flexibility.

Reduced Validation Overhead

Often one of the major concerns with Cloud software installations is compliance with government and industry regulations. However, a document management software vendor with a 21 CFR Part 11, GxP compliant Cloud can drastically reduce your validation overhead. These installations can ensure data integrity in an audit ready environment. Companies may also have an opportunity to migrate their other validated GxP applications to the same cloud instance to increase cost savings and improve overall IT efficiency. For companies subject to regulatory oversight, this type of solution helps you to streamline your workflows while exceeding regulatory requirements, giving you more time to focus on your business.


Employees are not always in the same department or even the same location. Often times companies need to grant access to customers or vendors who are in a different part of the country or world. With your document management software in the cloud, it is easy to grant controlled access to employees and stakeholders from anywhere with an internet connection. Instead of making your users log in through a virtual private network (VPN) to collaborate, a cloud based DMS is open and secure. And during this uncertain COVID-19 era, where many people are working remotely, connecting from different parts of the globe is necessary to keep your business processes running smoothly and efficiently.

Drawbacks of Cloud Solutions

Dependent on Internet Connection

A minor drawback of cloud-hosted document management software is it is dependent on an internet connection. While the cloud-hosted applications provide unprecedented accessibility for your users all over the world, they will still need an internet connection to be able to access the system.


Another concern about cloud-hosted document control solutions is the difference in cost from on-premises solutions. While the cost of the software will likely be the same, cloud installations come with maintenance and hosting fees that can increase yearly maintenance costs in comparison to on-premises solutions. The caveat here is that cloud solutions significantly reduce your IT overhead and allow you to customize your storage space to scale at your own pace.

Is On-Premises, Cloud or Hybrid Document Management Better for Your Business?

Cloud-hosted systems continue to grow in popularity and demand with growing remote workforces. Even the most risk-averse companies can find cloud providers who will grant them the level of security they are looking for. In fact, since cloud providers make running these systems their business, they typically have more resources and better controls than companies hosting their own data on-premise. If your company decides to prioritize your information by sensitivity, you can look for a hybrid solution that allows you to maintain the level of control you require by running some systems on-premises and others in the cloud.

While every business has a unique set of needs and priorities, a cloud document management system provides the most flexibility, accessibility and security for mid-to-large sized companies who need to provide global, secure access to their critical business documents. Cloud services are monitored 24/7, providing the most modern and secure experience with the least amount of maintenance for the customer. Organizations can always complement the cloud deployment with local on-premises servers and also migrate local repositories to the cloud and vice-versa.

If you are looking for a cloud-hosted document management system, the ENSUR Cloud document management system is a complete solution that provides you with a fully managed application environment where hosting, application maintenance and technical support is handled quickly and efficiently by our outstanding team of technical support professionals. Whether you require an audit-ready cloud solution or not, ENSUR Cloud is a secure, scalable and cost-effective option for your document management needs.

Contact us today to set up a consultation to learn if the Cloud is right for your company.

Tags: cloud document management, cloud, document management software, managed cloud, on-premise