Cloud vs On-Premise Documentation Management System

Posted by
Julia in Technology on 5/4/20226 min read

woman with tablet and smartphone smiling

Every growing company will sooner or later face the problem of creating a document management system (DMS). For this, certain steps should be made, and the first one is to decide whether it will be an on-premise or a cloud-based document management system. Looks like a simple question, but the system will have to meet a set of requirements, and the main thing is that it should make the life of your company easier.

What Is an On-Premise Document Management System?

An on-premise system is a document management system that implies using its own corporate server and a firewall. An own server is used not only to store all the documents but to install the on-premise document management software with all the necessary documentation tools. It is an in-house solution that helps to minimize the risks of information leakage.

Benefits and Shortcomings of an On-Premise System

An on-premise system is a good option for a business with high cyber security awareness. Storing the information on the company server is safe as there will be no unauthorized access to the server room, or, at least, it will be harder for the intruder to get access to the information. To ‘hack’ the server, this person will have to pass through the company security system. So, strategic data will be protected.

The second advantage is the economy. At first glance, purchasing a server (or several servers) might look like a heavy burden on the company budget. On the other hand, if regarded as a long-term investment, it might be quite reasonable. With a server of your own, you will not have to make monthly payments to the provider, and, in a couple of years, you will find out that having a server is a great economy as buying a server is actually cheaper than paying for server space to the provider.

Another advantage is that a corporate server makes the company independent from the Internet. An on-premise DMS can operate even if there is no internet connection. You can always rely on your own server: all the authorized employees will have access to data and software documentation tools and proceed working even if the Internet is ‘down.’ Independence from the Internet means an uninterrupted work process and enhanced efficiency.

A major disadvantage of the on-prem system is that it requires physical space (a server room) to install hardware. It means that you will have to think of additional space in your office building where you can install cabinets (racks) for server equipment, UPS units, and ventilation equipment as servers are climate-sensitive. You will also need a video camera as the server room needs to be monitored by the video surveillance system (it is important for security). Besides, you will have to think about fire alarms and fire extinguishers.

Labor costs should be included as well. Having a server means an additional workload on your IT team. Don’t forget that every ‘man-hour’ must be paid, and the number of person-hours will grow as the servers will require regular maintenance and updating.

All the expenses related to the server room must be included in the cost estimate. The total sum will be the real cost of your own company server.

team members with laptop smiling

What Is a Cloud DMS?

If, after all the necessary pre-calculations, your own server still looks too expensive and you are not ready to invest in it, a cloud-hosted DMS can solve the problem.

A cloud document management system implies buying server space from a provider and using it for your company’s needs.

In terms of operation, there is practically no difference from an in-house system. The online document management system will have the same user interface; the company documents will be stored on the server (or ‘cloud’) and accessed by users. The only thing is that the server will be located not in the same office building but probably in a different city or country.

Benefits and Purpose of Cloud Compared to On-Premise Systems

One of the most attractive features of all cloud services is that they give businesses a quick ready-made solution. You no longer have to think about purchasing expensive hardware with high performance and a huge memory. All your information will be stored in the cloud, and all your work will now be ‘cloud computing.’

In the case of a cloud document management system, all the software documentation tools will be started remotely. It means saving a large amount of memory on the company’s PCs and increasing the speed of operation.

Remote access to data also means that your employees can practice teleworking. It can result in economizing the company budget on renting offices and premises. Besides, unlike in the case of an on-premise system where users can get access only from office PCs, a cloud system enables users to work from any gadget they like, a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone.

Another way to save money is to economize on installing DMS software. Due to the cloud system, you no longer need to install programs on each PC, paying for each program separately. It is enough to pay just once for the cloud version of the software you need.

In the case of a cloud DMS, your IT team will no longer have to work on updating and maintenance. All the programs will be automatically updated to the latest version in the cloud, and your IT specialists will not have to check and monitor the updates.

Another important thing is that the cloud server can be easily scaled if your company grows or ‘shrinks.’ You are no longer limited by the hard disks. The cloud will meet your demands, and additional server space will be provided.

Best Cloud Document Management Systems

The market offers a wide variety of cloud document management systems designed to meet the demand of the most ‘picky’ customers. Below are just some of the most popular ones.

  • Alfresco is a cloud DMS developed especially for large enterprises who want to save, store and streamline their knowledge base. It is based on single sourcing and eliminates the useless information silos that are common in most companies. Among the special features, it offers to the users document scanning and capture can be mentioned.
  • DocuWare is another system that is mostly focused on enhancing document search and thus saving time and optimizing workflow. Due to its advanced document indexing, it can make the life of the company better.
  • Google Drive is not as powerful as the systems above. Still, it performs the same functions and is quite good for a start-up. One of its most attractive features is that it offers free 15GB memory of cloud storage and allows working with Word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • LogicalDoc is for mid-size and large companies who want to convert their paper documents into soft copies. It allows users to co-operate online creating and editing documents together. It offers the customers a metadata-based search which makes finding documents a matter of seconds.
  • Templafy is based on the idea of creating and sharing company documents on one cloud platform using a single dashboard. One of the interesting features it offers is a check button to review errors in the content.

No matter what cloud system appears to be more appealing to you, you have to weigh all pros and cons and use the trial period most of these resources offer.

woman with laptop working on sofa


The more employees and customers you have, the more documents your company generates. Company documentation (be that developer documentation, user manuals, or case deflection) cannot be just dumped in information silos. This way, the knowledge base will be lost. Documents have to be issued, commented on, edited, adjusted, and shared. A DMS can streamline this process. That is why sooner or later, all growing companies face the dilemma of choosing between an on-premise and a cloud DMS. No matter what choice you make, you will have to consider all factors, among which the most important is security and budget economy.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices


Give it a Try!

Sign up for a 14-day free trial!
Start Free Trial
Post Categories
Want to become a better professional?
Get monthly digest on technical writing, UX and web design, overviews of useful free resources and much more.

Mind if we email you once a month?

Professionals never stop learning. Join thousands of experts subscribed to our blog to get tips, ideas and stories from us once per month.
Learn more on ClickHelp
By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Learn more