A CMMS is one of the most important software applications a company will use. One of the first questions organizations ask when searching for the right Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) is “do we want a cloud-hosted option or an on-premise option for our software platform.

Technology and maintenance needs are changing rapidly for companies. Therefore, choosing the right platform for today’s software may be much different than a few years ago

CMMS solutions from just 15 years ago couldn’t connect to the internet. There was no choice but to store data on-premise at each business location. But gradually, cloud storage has become a viable option for many companies.

As businesses seek alternatives for data storage another trend has gained popularity for enhancing the data that’s stored and analyzed the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).


What IIoT Means for Your Big Data

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is refers to machines that can connect with one another. This way, they can quickly share data and compile actionable reports.

The IIoT trend allows machines to transmit data to an analytic solution and CMMS is just one type of technology that can supplement this data sharing by focusing on machine maintenance.

The specific way CMMS solutions supplement this trend is through condition-based maintenance. When machines can give real-time readings on certain variables, such as temperature, oil viscosity or wear damage, the solution can predict when it’s time to conduct maintenance. This is also called predictive maintenance, as it collects the data for experts to make predictions.

Not everyone seeking CMMS will want condition-based maintenance. CMMS is also great for scheduling routine maintenance, which doesn’t require the transfer of data in real-time.

When it comes to hosting maintenance software, whether it’s for keeping up with real-time conditions or for periodic reminders, businesses can opt for on-premise or cloud solutions.


On-premise vs Cloud

On-premise: Hosting data on-premise means you must maintain the hardware that stores your data. This requires each business to have its own IT staff to manage all the back-end work on a dedicated server in the office building.

  • Pros: Offers the client full control, opportunity for total customization
  • Cons: Upfront, continual hardware costs, requires dedicated in-house team, costs are harder to determine for a return on investment (ROI)

Cloud: Hosting data in the cloud means you rely on the vendor to host your data as an additional service. This means much less IT work on the client’s end and the data is accessible through the internet for any user at any time and any location.

  • Pros: Highly accessible from any computer or mobile device, simple to manage for clients, costs are easy to estimate on a steady monthly basis, less interruptions
  • Cons: Can require more cost spread over time and requires reliance on a vendor partnership to ensure data is always available

Clients who opt for on-premise CMMS typically already have a dedicated server and data warehouse, whereas clients leaning toward cloud options need data storage as a service along with the full Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.

Within the context of IIoT, there’s another very important difference between these two methods of hosting data. Cloud storage can’t match the security of on-premise storage. For those seriously considering the IIoT trend, your data is more sensitive than standard preventive maintenance data.

If your business intends on using CMMS for relatively small-scale initiatives, such as a preventive maintenance routine on a fleet of cars to schedule oil changes, there’s a good chance cloud storage will allow the fastest ROI on your purchase.

But, if your business is investing in predictive maintenance, and may connect high capital or mission critical equipment to the CMMS solution, such as in an oil refinery, water treatment plant or even a healthcare facility, the security and reliability of this data is often more sensitive than it would be at other facilities.

Cloud solutions come with risk that can’t be reduced due to the architecture of the network. When a CMMS solution is hosted on a cloud server, it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Vendors must keep data secure while also keeping it available at all times for the business to rely on.

Some organizations can’t risk losing their data and will favor keeping it in-house as a long term data governance strategy. These organizations often have an enterprise-grade plan to try and always keep data on-premise. The strategy is more than preventing hackers from stealing sensitive data, and also considers possibilities such as service interruption that’s out of the business’s control.

The majority of businesses don’t have this restriction and will find cloud storage offers a great deal of flexibility without burdening IT.


The Bottom Line

Depending on the type of data stored, both options have different benefits. For most, the choice will be made by calculating ROI and assessing the risks. Cloud storage has become a viable option, but on-premise will always be a consideration as well.

Author Bio: Julia is an editor with Better Buys, a trusted source of maintenance software news and research. Follow her @JuliaScavicchio for more insight on how technology is changing the workforce.