With the availability of low cost cloud infrastructure we have seen an explosion of different cloud based software as a service solutions from a variety of software vendors. It makes it easier for customers to get started or trial them since they do not have to install anything on their systems and it becomes cheaper and easier for vendors to support since everything is managed by them. So what are the downsides that can “rain on this parade”?
Are Cloud CMMS Software Costs That Low?
While a cloud based maintenance management solution may seem attractive it has many potential downsides. While the monthly fees may look low we have frequently found our customers have been using our on-premises installed FastMaint software for six years or more. We would have collected a lot more money if we had made our customers pay us monthly fees rather than a one-time payment over those six years! You are also vulnerable to arbitrary pricing changes or changes in the software licensing. While some cloud vendors may promise a fixed fee for life it usually means they sub-class your account after a few years and limit features that they are offering out of the box for newer higher paying customers. If you want those features you will have to start a new tier of service and pay the new price. Besides this monthly fees are frequently tied to the size of your database – as it grows you may be forced to pay up for a higher tier of service.
Keeping Your Data & System Safe
An installed on-premises software makes a lot of sense especially if you have confidential data and processes like many small to large size manufacturers or for companies that need to secure their data for audit or other purposes. While many cloud vendors may promise high levels of data security the recent data breaches at several large organizations which have more money & expertise than most cloud vendors should give pause. You also do not want to be locked out of your system because the cloud vendor is being hacked or because of a “denial of service” attack. You also have to consider the stability of the cloud vendor – you do not want to lose all your maintenance data because they ran into financial issues and shut down. While cloud based companies may claim security and 99.999% uptime remember those are basically promises for the future. Loss of availability can happen due to infrastructure changes, vendors or their sub-contractors can run into financial difficulties, get purchased by others and so on. For example customers of 2e2 got only two days notice when it went into bankruptcy in 2013, while customers of Nirvanix got two week’s notice. Will you have enough time to find an alternative?
Problems Within Your Organization
Now consider issues you may face due to problems within your organization. You may run into problems with your credit card or invoices do not get paid or are paid late because of problems in accounts payable. Will this mean that you will lose access to your online maintenance management system till you get this resolved? You also have to be concerned if it takes some time or you have multiple delays with your payments. Your account and data may be deleted or removed by the cloud based vendor. Another common problem is senior management or a re-organization cuts your budget so you no longer can afford the monthly or annual fees. You can keep using on-premises maintenance management software since it is already paid for – you may just lose some support and access to future updates (which you can frequently get if you buy an upgrade at a later date). Another common occurrence is a corporate mandate to standardize on some other platform. Will you get time and money to keep paying monthly fees till you migrate to the new platform? You can frequently buy time but getting a budget to pay monthly fees on cloud based maintenance software may be out of question. Installed software is a sunk cost so you can keep using it till you are ready to move to a new platform. Another issue you may face is the willingness of your Information Technology/ Systems Department to support your cloud software if you have any problems. Since everything is on the cloud vendor’s system they will find it really difficult to help you out. Third-party consultants can help with many installed programs – this is extremely unlikely with cloud products.
Is This Really A Good On-Premises System?
Some cloud vendors may offer an installed solution. However, these solutions are frequently entry level systems that encourage you to move to the cloud based solution since you will outgrow them soon. Alternatively you may be able to get the full cloud solution installed in-premises – but beware since setup, integration & support costs will usually be very high since these systems are not built out of the box to be user installed. This also makes installing upgrades a potentially complex process.
Based on this make sure that using a cloud based CMMS software solution will fit in with your organizations needs – currently and in the future. While initial startup & costs may seem low remember that most products get used for a long time. Bad decisions could potentially haunt you for years to come.
CMMS Software Selection Tips
There are hundreds of packages available so identifying what you need and what will work for you can be quite a challenge. Have a look at our free CMMS Selection Guide. It has a several tips that can help you find the best CMMS package for your needs.