Cloud ERP VS. On-Premise ERP: What’s The Most Suitable To Your Business?

Cloud ERP VS. On-Premise ERP

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) pertains to the software used in business process management that enables businesses to integrate various facets of their operations in a single database, application, and user interface. It is a form of enterprise software, encompassing human resource management (HRM) systems, customer relationship management (CRM), office suites, and other functionalities. 


According to Statista, the global enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market is projected to reach approximately $101 billion by 2026. Notably, SAP and Oracle emerge as two of the key players in this market. 


Nevertheless, many businesses are not sure if they should opt for cloud ERP or on-premise ERP. This article will provide a detailed comparison of both solutions and help businesses determine the most suitable one for their operations. 


What Are Cloud ERP And On-Premise ERP? 

Cloud ERP refers to Enterprise Resource Planning software that is hosted on a cloud computing platform, rather than on a company’s own on-premise servers. This type of ERP utilizes the benefits of internet infrastructure to provide a service that is flexible, scalable, and easy to implement. Businesses access the software and its data through a web-based portal, bypassing the need for physical software installation. It is a subscription-based model, where the cost depends on the level of usage, resulting in potential cost savings. 


On the other hand, On-Premise ERP is a traditional form of enterprise resource planning model where the software is installed and run on the servers within the organization’s premises. In this model, all data and information are stored locally and managed by the company’s own IT department. It requires an upfront investment in servers, infrastructure, and maintenance, which makes it a more expensive option initially. However, organizations prefer on-premise ERP when they want more control over their data and systems. 


Cloud ERP VS. On-Premise ERP: Things To Consider 

When evaluating Cloud ERP and On-Premise ERP, it is crucial to consider several factors that may influence the effectiveness and efficiency of these systems within a specific business context. These factors include cost, implementation time, customization, data security, and scalability. By understanding the implications of each factor, organizations can make a more informed decision about which ERP model aligns best with their business needs and operational structure. 


1/ Cost Of Ownership 

When evaluating the total cost of ownership (TCO), it’s apparent there are financial implications for both Cloud ERP and On-Premise ERP that businesses need to consider. Cloud ERP typically operates on a subscription-based model, with businesses paying a recurring fee, generally monthly or annually, for access to the software. This fee often includes costs related to updates, maintenance, and support, resulting in predictable, regular expenditure that can be easier to budget for. Furthermore, given that this model doesn’t require significant upfront investment in IT infrastructure, initial costs are lower, making it a more feasible option for small to medium-sized businesses. 


On-Premise ERP, in contrast, requires a sizable initial investment. Businesses have to finance the purchase of the ERP software, along with the necessary hardware to support it, such as servers and other infrastructure. Additionally, there will be ongoing costs for maintenance, upgrades, and potential system customizations, which can be unpredictable and escalate rapidly. While these higher initial and potential ongoing costs may seem daunting, it can be a cost-effective solution in the long term for larger companies with complex requirements, providing they have the necessary resources for implementation and ongoing management. 


2/ Implementation Time 

The implementation time for Cloud ERP and On-Premise ERP also varies greatly. Cloud ERP systems are often quicker to implement as they don’t require the procurement and setup of physical servers or comprehensive in-house IT resources. The software is delivered over the internet, usually ready for configuration and customization. As such, the implementation process can often be measured in weeks or a few months, depending on the complexity of the business requirements. 


On-Premise ERP, conversely, necessitates a longer and more detailed implementation period. The procurement and installation of the necessary hardware, setup of the software, and its subsequent customization to align with specific business processes, all contribute to a lengthier timeframe. Depending on the scale and complexity of the business, the implementation of an on-premise ERP system can take several months to over a year. This extended timeline needs to be factored in when considering the overall project cost and potential disruption to the business. 


3/ Customization 

Customization becomes another pivotal factor when considering Cloud ERP versus On-Premise ERP. On-Premise ERP systems generally offer a higher level of customization because they are installed locally and managed by the organization’s own IT department. This enables businesses to tweak the software to fit their specific needs and processes. However, it is important to note that this level of customization often involves complex programming and can lead to increased costs and deployment time. 


In contrast, Cloud ERP systems may not offer the same level of customization. They are designed to serve numerous clients with diverse needs, so they typically offer a range of configurable options rather than deep-customization possibilities. However, they usually come with user-friendly interfaces and tools that allow organizations to configure certain features themselves. Furthermore, updates and new features are often added regularly by the vendor, which can provide additional flexibility and adaptability for businesses over time. The trade-off lies between the depth of customization and ease of use, with Cloud ERP providing a simpler but less customizable solution, and On-Premise ERP offering greater customization at the expense of potential complexity. 


4/ Data Security 

Data security plays a critical role in ERP systems due to the sensitive nature of the information processed and stored in these systems. This includes financial data, customer information, and proprietary business intelligence, which could be disastrous if compromised. Companies must ensure that their ERP systems uphold the highest level of data protection to maintain trust with their stakeholders and comply with data protection laws. 


In terms of comparison, Cloud ERP systems utilize the security measures provided by the cloud service provider. This often includes robust security protocols, encryption, and regular system updates to address any potential vulnerabilities. Furthermore, backup and recovery systems are typically in place to protect against data loss. However, since data is stored off-premises, organizations have to rely on the provider’s security measures and cannot directly control their data’s safety. 


On-Premise ERP systems, on the other hand, afford businesses full control over their data security. The organization’s IT department is responsible for implementing and maintaining security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and access controls. This allows for security practices to be tailored to the company’s specific needs. However, this greater control comes with increased responsibility and potential risk, as the organization must ensure that its security measures are continually updated to address evolving threats. As such, organizations must have competent IT teams to manage these tasks.  


In conclusion, both systems offer different levels of data security, and the choice between them often comes down to an organization’s preference for control versus reliance on a provider’s established security measures.


5/ Scalability 

Cloud ERP solutions are inherently scalable, as they can easily accommodate changes in user numbers or data volume. This is because cloud providers have vast resources and can allocate more to your system as required. Whether your business is expanding rapidly, or you have seasonal fluctuations, Cloud ERP can adjust to your needs.  


On-Premise ERP systems, however, are less flexible when it comes to scalability. Once the hardware is purchased and installed, it has a finite capacity. If your business grows beyond this capacity, you will need to invest in additional hardware and potentially experience downtime while this is installed and configured. Conversely, if you overestimate your requirements, you may find you have invested in excess capacity that you’re not using.  


In terms of scalability, a Cloud ERP system provides more flexibility and is typically a safer choice for businesses expecting significant growth or fluctuation in their needs. However, for larger organizations with stable requirements, an On-Premise ERP system can be effectively scaled during the initial setup to meet long-term needs. 


Cloud ERP  On-Premise ERP 
Cost Of Ownership  + Initial costs are lower 

+ Subscription-based model 

+ Higher initial investment 

+ Ongoing costs for maintenance and upgrades 

Implementation Time  + Often quicker to implement  + Lengthier timeframe 
Customization  + Lower level of customization  + Higher level of customization 
Data Security  + Depending on cloud provider’s security measures  + Full control over data security 
Scalability  + More flexible  + Less flexible 

Cloud ERP vs. On-Premise ERP Comparison Summary



In summarizing, the selection between a Cloud ERP and an On-Premise ERP system depends on the specific situation of a business. Each solution has its unique benefits and drawbacks, which must be weighed considering the organization’s needs, resources, and future growth plans. Ultimately, the best choice will effectively balance these factors and facilitate the organization’s strategic objectives, promoting operational efficiency and fostering competitive advantage. 

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