Premise, hosted and true cloud: What’s the difference?

I’ve seen an increasing number of technology companies positioning themselves as ’cloud’ before delivering a hosted service. Why should you care? Because it’s important to recognise which is best suited to your business. Here’s a quick rundown:

On premise

It’s not unusual for businesses to want to keep their data on-site, and I can remember when this was the only option available. Agencies would buy or build their own CRM and rely on their in-house IT departments to maintain it.

This is an expensive option with significant capital and operational expenditure required on everything from servers to an IT support team. Consequently it’s often only a realistic proposition for enterprise sized businesses; inevitably the data will end up off-site anyway during backup processes.

You know you’re a business with an on premise solution if you’ve often got stressed out IT guys running around trying to get your database back online!


Hosted solutions are similar to on premise solutions but rather than having an onsite server it will be based at the service provider’s premises. The fact that the data is kept offsite has led to hosted service providers selling their services as ‘cloud solutions’, which they aren’t.

If anything goes wrong you will need to contact the supplier so they can fix the problem. This is not only time consuming but it might leave you with restricted, or worse, no access to your data whilst the issue is diagnosed or whilst the supplier fixes other client problems first. And hosted servers can be inconvenient when it comes to upgrading, expanding or integrating third party solutions. Getting the updates you require may be slow or at times, impossible.

Remember, you are basically paying for an on premise server to be based elsewhere and paying for a supplier’s IT support time can be extremely costly!

True cloud

True cloud solutions operate via a web browser. The solution is hosted and maintained by a supplier, but there’s only one iteration of the main software that everyone accesses. This means that any upgrades or installations benefit everyone at the same time and are safely completed before being sent across the network. If you need to add or remove employees from the network this is done almost instantly meaning that no productivity is lost.

True cloud solutions also integrate with third party products through an API (see the Bullhorn Marketplace for examples of our technology partners that are all instantly accessible to our users). With true cloud solutions, integration of these products is easy, making them available as and when your business might need them.

Make sure you ask the right questions when picking your next recruitment solution so you don’t get stung by a cloud pretender.



Michael Restivo

Mike was one of the first 20 employees to join Bullhorn in 2005 and was instrumental in opening Bullhorn International in 2010. Currently VP of Sales for Bullhorn International, Mike leads Bullhorn’s international account management and sales functions responsible for providing cloud (SAAS) based CRM and Social Media solutions for staffing and recruitment agencies across the globe.

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