3 Pros And Cons of Investing In A Self-Hosted Cloud-Based LMS

3 Pros And Cons of Investing In A Self-Hosted Cloud-Based LMS
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Summary: Like all hybrid goodies (salted cookies or caramel popcorn), self-hosted cloud-based LMS combine the best of both worlds. What are the pluses and minuses for this merged system? In this guide, I weigh the pros and cons of investing in a self-hosted cloud-based LMS for your organization.

Why You Should Consider Investing In A Self-Hosted Cloud-Based LMS: 3 Pros And Cons

Ordinarily, self-hosted LMS and cloud-based LMS are competing products with polar systems. However, in the same way that VPS offers the benefits of both self-hosting and shared-hosting options, self-hosted cloud systems are hybrid. You get the cost-benefit and redundancy of the cloud. (Many are free open source systems.) You also get the autonomy and peace of mind that comes from self-hosted solutions. What are some other (dis)advantages of this mixed software approach?

The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Self-Hosted Learning Management Systems

Pro: Full Administrative Control

Cloud-based systems are generally administered by your vendor. They ‘come in a can’ so you pay your subscription, log in and let your software provider handle maintenance and backups. On your side, it’s essentially a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) display. You click icons and press buttons; your learning system does what you need it to do. You’re not particularly concerned with the ‘how’. The downside is your vendor has insider access to your systems. Of course they’d never breach your systems, but it can niggle at your c-suite’s mind. With self-hosted systems, you have full control of every aspect of the LMS. There are no outside eyes or fingers poking in.

Con: No External Assistance When Things Go Wrong

This same aspect can work against you on occasion. If your system glitches, your data disappears or a power surge occurs, you’re on your own. You can’t call tech support or customer care for help because they have no access to your systems. That said, when you first start using your self-hosted cloud you could set joint parameters. If you’d like them to blindly back-up data (without viewing it), then all you have is a backup. This can be a lifesaver when your primary, self-hosted systems crash. Find out which services your vendor can provide.

Pro: Wider Customization Options

The biggest barrier to cloud-based systems is wiggle room. Your canned software comes with pre-set templates. You won't be able to do much outside of them. A self-hosted LMS – whether or not it’s based on the cloud – will have broader options and offer more flexibility. You can request particular tools and features from your vendor and have them incorporated. Or you can source compatible plug-ins and add them to your system. Since you have full control, there’s nothing stopping you from adding on (or taking out) whatever you like. Also, cloud systems are known for ease of use. Because your LMS is partly cloud-based it has a learning curve which is quicker than manually installed server systems.

Con: Deeper IT Skills required

The downside of all this freedom comes down to implementation. Canned software vendors have their own IT teams to do all of the coding. But since you’re hosting on your own, any changes you require will call for technical know-how. You’ll have to divert some members of your current IT team, redirecting their skills to the LMS. If that level of programming talent doesn’t exist in-house, you may have to hire new staff. That’s an additional expense, and you have to factor in their learning curve and adjustment period. All this takes time and money you hadn’t planned on utilizing. Plus, you must consider how your corporate learners will adapt to the new system.

Pro: Enhanced Data Security

Cloud systems are designed to be secure, but corporates still worry about ‘outsiders’ rummaging through their stuff. But the very nature of the cloud – especially for commercial purposes – ensures superior encryption. It’s a priority because cloud-based systems can be accessed from anywhere anytime, implying they’re more attractive to hackers. When you host it yourself, you have the best of both entities. Standard cloud security will be fed into your system, but you still have enough autonomy that access is on a need-to-know basis. Nobody at your vendor’s headquarters has access to your files unless you specifically provide it. At the same time, you can use cloud security features. These features aren’t available to companies with their own physical servers.

Con: Stable Web Connections Required

Anything that sits on the cloud requires strong web access and some kind of log-in system. So being a hybrid system, your self-hosted cloud may have limited log-in capabilities for employees outside the main office. If they don’t have Wi-Fi or a reliable LAN connection, they are immediately locked out of the system. This poses an impracticality if your organization uses extended enterprise as a core business model. It can also make life difficult for remote workers, and for mobile teams like salespeople or delivery guys. Plus, because part of the system is ‘manual’ (i.e. the self-hosted part), it’s not fully plug-and-play. It takes longer to implement than the standard ‘log in and begin’ of canned software. That said, you can get around this by looking for a LMS that offers offline, mobile or downloadable content.

Conclusion

Self-hosted systems have numerous advantages, as do cloud systems. When you marry them into a self-hosted web-based LMS you get the best and worst of both worlds. Benefits include autonomy, administrative control, broader customization and increased corporate confidentiality. Downsides are the need for increased IT skills and stable internet. On top of that, if anything goes wrong with the system you will basically be flying solo. There’s no tech support to call for help. Unless, of course, you go ahead with a system with an active online user community who you can turn to for troubleshooting. Before you make this move, carefully analyze both sides of the equation to invest wisely.

Which self-hosted cloud-based solution is best for your L&D team (and your bottom line)? Our online directory can help you choose the ideal platform for your organization and budget. Read online reviews to see what users have to say about the UX and CX. Then compare your top 3 choices side-by-side to eliminate options from your list:

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