← Back to blog

The top myths in the 'On-Cloud Vs. On-Premise' debate

Paul Organ

April 3, 2017

Boardingware has been fortunate to help many schools make their first move into the cloud by using our software for boarding schools, however, from time to time we’ll get a school that will ask about installing our product on-premise.For those of you that are less aware of the difference between the two, cloud software (also referred to as SaaS - Software as a Service) is hosted privately in a data centre away from your school grounds and accessed via the internet. On-site software is installed in your school’s servers and often maintained by your internal IT team.The debate is ongoing, but as time goes on, the pros and cons for each change and mature. Let’s discuss the biggest myths about on-premise software and why we haven't offered it as an option at Boardingware.

Myth #1: “On-Site is more secure”

One of the biggest misconceptions about on-site software is that it is ‘outright’ safer than the cloud. Most of the time people believe this because on-site servers are within their physical protection, so therefore they must be safer right?....not exactly.


It’s actually rarer for physical breaches to occur in off-site data centres.It’s a little known fact, but more damaging breaches will normally come from within the company/school’s firewall often from their own employees which is far less likely to happen within an offsite data centre that is secured and monitored 24/7.The large cloud server providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM etc. are multinational corporations with their reputations on the line. They have to adhere to far tougher standards such as Soc 2 Type II, therefore they spend a lot more time and energy on ensuring the very best security for their sites.So you need to ask yourself if your internal IT department can provide the same level of attention and care to hosting and maintaining the security standards that the big cloud players can provide.

Myth #2 “Data sovereignty and data protection laws restrict our use of cloud software”

There is often a misconception about the level of flexibility provided by SaaS companies. It is correct that data protection and sovereignty laws can stop the use of certain SaaS applications at your school, however at Boardingware we decided from very early on that we must create a global architecture for our product. This enables us to provide a consistent service to our users around the world and to help schools comply with laws specific to their region or country.Boardingware has servers operational in the following locations

  • Australia
  • USA
  • Ireland

This not only helps you comply with your country's data laws but it also provides you with less latency so you can be sure you receive the quickest possible service 24/7.

Myth #3: “On-site provides better customization to suit our needs”

In some cases this is true however there are 2 factors that need to be taken into account when thinking about this.

  • How many staff does your IT team have to dedicate solely to your boarding software?

Building great software is hard and entire companies dedicate their full attention to doing this so you need to take a look at your IT department and see if there is enough resources for them to do this. This is written about in more detail at our Build Vs. Buy Blog Post here:

  • As your system becomes ‘ultra-customized’ what are the follow on costs involved with maintaining the system and providing the necessary support as it expands.

A lot of people don’t realise, but the more complicated a software product becomes for the user, the more complicated it becomes to support the system. Updates, maintenance and general support starts to become out of hand and unless the correct processes are implemented, then you as the user is who suffers most. We’ve written extensively about why simple software is best - check out our blog post here.

Myth #4: “I have direct access to my IT team for support”

This is a really common misconception. School’s think that because there is physical access to the IT department it must be easier to get support. Yes, you might have easier physical access, but you have to consider the amount of time your IT team can dedicate to supporting this subsection of the school. We often work with IT teams that are over the moon to use Boardingware because it saves them from having to spread themselves even thinner.If you work in residential life, you know that it’s a 24/7 job. Therefore you need to have access to support at all times because you can’t afford to have any mishaps during your shift.At Boardingware, our response time averages less than 10m no matter the time of day, so you have access to an expert at all time of the day.

Myth #5: “On-premise is only one lump sum with smaller payments after that”

Traditionally, schools have paid one large lump sum up-front followed by smaller annual license fees for software. This became the ‘status quo’ and school budgets have been segmented into larger ‘upfront’ and ‘ongoing’ buckets.When SaaS applications were introduced, people started to view them as expensive in the long term due to the consistent payments made each year. This is deceptive because the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can be miscalculated.The following aspects are most frequently ill-considered when calculating the TCO.

  • Upgrades every 5 years: It’s common to have to upgrade an on-site system substantially every 5 years. This is normally a large cost that gets forgotten when selecting on-premise vs. SaaS.
  • Opportunity costs:  Due to the periods in between upgrades, a school will miss out on the latest technological advances that are provided instantly through SaaS.
  • Support: Good SaaS companies should provide 24/7 support. This simply isn’t possible with most IT teams at boarding schools. The cost of interruption, and risk of failure needs to be seriously considered when assessing on-premise vs. SaaS, especially at boarding school which is a 24/7 responsibility.

I recommend using this website to calculate the TCO when you are weighing up your options.


Extensive studies show that on average, cloud software is safer than on-premise due to the resources available to the large companies that provide the servers.Some of the world’s largest banks and even the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) use cloud software, so your school is in good company. As long as the application you are investigating is with a trusted cloud provider you and your school can rest assure that it is being protected by global best practices.This article is only a discussion of misconceptions about on-site servers, click here to see what salesforce has to say about the added benefits of cloud-software.[marketo-fat form="1107"]

Our gift to you: a free behavior management tool, plus an incredibly useful newsletter

Join thousands of school leaders learning to improve student life. Subscribers receive free access to our behavior management tool, Orah Notes. When you subscribe, you will receive an email with instructions on how to get it set up, as well as an introductory version of the Orah-cle, our monthly newsletter.

Paul Organ

I live in Auckland, New Zealand. I enjoy exercise, sauna's and cold plunges, video games and design. Prior to Orah (10 years ago now!) I was a University Student studying my Masters of Architecture. There are two important things that keep me enthused at work - Using creativity to solve complex problems and working with good people.

Featured articles

Latest Updates to Workflows (May 2024)

Orah schools have been looking for ways to improve their utility in response to student actions, so we’ve made a number of enhancements to help with this.

Product Update

5 Steps You Can Take Today to Reduce Absenteeism at Your School

Discover five practical steps to reduce absenteeism in your school. Join a supportive community, enhance parent-school communication with Orah Connect, and engage in meaningful education with students and parents.


Do Schools Lose Money When Students Are Absent?

Discover the financial impact of student absenteeism on schools and the potential loss of funding.