On-Premise vs Cloud: Which ECM is right for you?

Posted by Daniela Di Noi on 7/15/19 4:22 PM

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Cloud Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is one of the biggest trends in business software, mostly due to its flexibility and savings the cloud offers. However, these benefits are often contended because the cloud may not be superior to on-premise ECM in all cases, and are both options mutually exclusive?

ECM helps users to find the right data at the right time and in the right context. Running such capabilities on your content on-premise is increasingly demanding. Leveraging the cloud to adopt best practices and capabilities prepares you for the challenges ahead.

With the rapid expansion of cloud services and platform as a service, ECM as a service becomes a very attractive option for small and large companies alike. Amazon AWS reduced customers' costs by up to 75%, as a consequence of economies of scale and increased competition with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. S3 and Blob storage (AWS, Azure) offer storage opportunities to reduce cost, increase durability and leverage geographical proximity. Intelligent services, often born in the cloud, allowing organizations to automate content processes, handle large document repositories, and scale day-to-day processes.

Alfresco Digital Business Platform is one of the top 10 ECM Leaders, and in this series of articles, we show how to deploy and integrate Alfresco in an organization’s architecture and the pros and cons to consider an on-premise or cloud-based strategy.


Cloud ECM solution


Chances are that there are many factors involved in the decision-making process of any ECM solution for large corporations. The likelihood is that every option will go through rigorous scrutiny before being deployed so in this environment no offering will be immediate. Historically, in this space systems have tended to be on-premise, but we will see this starting to change as hosted solutions become more mature.

ECM is traditionally thought of as very expensive to license and extremely costly to roll-out and scale. The Alfresco Digital Platform uses an open-source business model to dramatically reduce the expenses companies incur while offering a robust, scalable, enterprise-class solution.

This article will help you take a closer look at the pros and cons of On-Premise and Cloud solutions in the context of ECM.

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On-premise systems usually require extensive planning to build up the hardware, software, licenses, backup and security strategies. On-premise implementations take longer due (from weeks to months) to the time needed to complete installations on servers. The provision of this infrastructure is the responsibility of the customer.

A Cloud solution is usually available immediately. All features needed for the operation of your server, such as hardware, software, etc., are not relevant since these are the responsibility of the Cloud provider.





On-Premise solutions enable the best performance and constant availability of data since they are not so dependent on internet performance.

It is easily accessible from anywhere on any device. For remote workers, an internet connection is all that is needed. Also, remote workers will not run into intermittent connectivity issues like those often experienced on a VPN. If the Internet goes down on the client’s side or the client’s cloud provider’s side, the client will not have access to the repository.





The advantage of On-Premise is that customers have the security completely in their own hands and thus meet their special requirements. They can use existing infrastructure configurations including network and security.

The security of data is the highest priority of a company and Cloud providers plan their security strategy very intensively at all levels. 





Legal standards must be maintained on national as well as on an international level. Enforcing regulatory requirements is easier compared to the cloud due to complete control of the environment. With the right Information Governance strategy and solution, companies can maximize value while mitigating risks that come with creating, using and sharing information.

Improved regulatory or legal compliance is the top driver for ECM investment in 2017, according to research from Forrester. What’s the best way to set up your governance solution when content and records are spread across so many disparate systems? You’ll need to decide whether records should be managed in place (in the applications where they were created) or in a centralized repository. For many organizations, a hybrid approach is a right call. (Source: Alfresco | The IT Strategist’s Guide to Transforming ECM).





While cloud solutions offer out-of-the-box functionality, on-premise allows you to customize your software to provide all of the information and applications you need at your fingertips. This is especially helpful with very complex connections that require high and individual administration of the in-house IT infrastructure.

To connect the most relevant systems, ECM providers in the Cloud usually include standardized interfaces in their package. The solution enables also integration with cloud capabilities and services such as identity management, Machine Learning, Digital signature.


overall costs



On-premise systems usually require a large upfront purchase which means capital expenditure (CapEx) is often required. On top of that, organizations need to include maintenance costs in their budgets to ensure support and functionality upgrades.

The Cloud is approximately 30% cheaper than on-premises. There are no hardware costs and no maintenance with a reduction in the total costs of ownership.


Organizations of all sizes and industries have embraced content management in the cloud. According to Gartner, 39% of companies are primarily deploying ECM  via a cloud model. The Cloud is easily available, scalable, and eliminates expensive internal administration.

For companies that want to keep their IT structure in their own hands, including the associated high operating and personnel costs, the On-Premise solution is the right answer.

Deploying at any customer base always creates unique instances, especially when best practices have not been undertaken. However, our engineers understand that some customer deployments bring constraints like outdated software versions and legacy systems whose challenges can cascade over time. We provide Alfresco ECM on-premise, cloud or hybrid installation and deployment, following best practices that best fit the overall company's strategy.

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Topics: Alfresco, Cloud, ECM, On-premise, Total cost of ownership

About Xenit 


Xenit is a Belgium-based IT company, focusing  on content services solutions, and covering all document-related business processes, from data migration to digital archive to hybrid/cloud hosting solution, to help organizations get control of their information. Premier Partner and System Integrator of Alfresco Digital Business Platform, Xenit has more than 10 years of experience in Alfresco Content and Process Services.


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