Intranet Discussion: Cloud or Self-Hosted?

When installing an intranet platform for your company, you have two choices: install it locally in your own server (self-hosted), or have it hosted in the cloud. There are benefits and reasons for each option. These reasons may depend on: cost, user level, storage requirements, IT or security needs, or other levels of customization and development. The choice should also depend on your own intranet support team and end-users.

Do you have a dedicated IT staff to set up and maintain the intranet software, server and database? Is your local network security locked down, but the intranet needs to be easily accessed by anyone anywhere?

There are a lot of things to discuss internally when deciding on your hosting requirement. Together, we’d like to discuss each hosting method and what may be best for your company.

First, what are the pros and cons of each?

Local Intranet Installation (Self-Hosted)

Pros

• Control your own security and backups.
• Ability to add more customization and communication with other content on your local network
• More control of performance (service specs and other improvements)
• One-time payment for the software

Cons

• Requires dedicated IT staff
• May require the purchase of a dedicated server and/or additional memory
• Upgrades and after-sales support usually entail additional costs
• Can be a more expensive option for smaller businesses or teams to get started

Cloud Hosted Intranet (or SaaS)

Pros

• Small monthly fees for continued access to intranet software
• Worry-free security and data backups
• No need to purchase new equipment such as a dedicated server or additional memory
• Nobody in your organization needs to maintain the intranet on the tech side
• Upgrades, trouble-shooting and tech support are included in monthly fees

Cons

• Total dependence on the vendor for security and backups
• Need to make continuous payments for as long as you use the intranet
• Limited ability to customize the intranet software

So Cloud Hosted is Cheaper?

Regarding costs, we stated that hosting locally may be more expensive to get started. This is because there is a larger one-time fee for the software. But this also depend on the scale of your users and your short term vs. long term goals. If you committ in your plan to using the same platform for 3-5 years or longer, then the monthly costs of Cloud hosting may start to exceed the cost of the one-time license fee and/or monthly support costs. So how long you want to comitt to the platform is also something to consider when it comes to costs. Also consider any potential costs for maintaining or adding new development for your locally hosted intranet, if you plan on customizing mroe yourself in the future.

While long term goals are important for the reasons we mentioned. Short term goals are also to be considered. A Cloud hosted intranet may be the most cost effective in the beginning. Even if the software requires a term comittment, it’s likely not as much of a comittment as buying the software outright and abandoning it a year later. This is why it’s also important to properly evaluate whichever software you are planning to go with during your trial period. If you opt to start with a hosted solution and then think that you may eventually want to host your intranet yourself, make sure the software you choose allows you to easily backup and restore your site and content to your new self-hosted site.

Ok, but Self-Hosted is more secure?

Well that may or may not be true, again depending on your own security and needs. There is a such thing of your intranet access being too secure if you don’t need it to be. This could limit access outside of the network, or make it difficult to connect to the intranet outside of the network (using VPN, or other remote access methods.) Or maybe you don’t have much in-house security (or again if you have no server at all) so a Cloud option may provide more security and options. Also, if you plan on sharing or hosting content from outside your internal network (like videos on YouTube for example) you may have that content blocked by your internal firewall settings and preferences.

That is a lot to consider, how do I choose?

Again, it’s important to have an internal discussion as to what you will require in terms of access, security, meeting internal or legal guidelines and required certifications, maintenance and both upfront and ongoing costs. Then you should speak to a technical consultant to discuss these needs and find what would be the best option based on your needs and budget. Schedule a demonstration to have us build you a custom prototype site and answer any questions you have regarding your best intranet hosting method.

There’s a lot to consider, but we’re here to help!

Intranet Software