What’s the difference Between Self Hosting & SaaS for your CRM?

One of the most common questions we get is, “Why is self-hosting better than SaaS or vice versa?” The truth is neither is better than the other because both come with their own advantages and disadvantages. We are going to break them down so you can make an informed decision when choosing your marketing technology.

First let’s cover SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service

Hosted online applications that usually take monthly fees. For example Infusionsoft or MailChimp.

What are the advantages of SaaS?

There are many advantages to choosing a SaaS for your project, here are some of the more noteworthy ones.

No updates, installation or code.

The biggest advantage of SaaS is the fact that it is a hosted service, meaning you do not need to keep anything updated or install anything. You simply login via an app or web browser to access the service.

No dependencies on other software.

SaaS also does not have any dependencies on other tools, meaning you can use a SaaS regardless of your pre-existing technology stack.

Managed Experience.

With SaaS you generally get a managed experience, meaning any issues you experience with the service will fall directly onto the company and is up to them to resolve it quickly.

What are the disadvantages of SaaS?

While there are clear advantages, there are also some clear disadvantages as well…

Pay up!

Generally, SaaS applications cost a minimum monthly fee. As you scale up your business, prepare to scale up your bill as well. Many SaaS pricing structures dramatically rise in price as the number of contacts you have continue to increase.

Lack of control.

When using SaaS you generally have little to no control over the tool itself. Meaning updates, modifications and features are up to the core development team and their desire to implement feature requests. If things stop working, there is nothing you can do to solve any issues, you’ll just have to wait.

Lack of ownership.

Regardless of what anyone says, you do not own any data that is hosted with a SaaS. They have the right to terminate your account at any point if they see fit, meaning any personal information, contact information, orders and emails that are hosted will be lost. If you forget a payment and your account is closed anything you have set up will stop working.

When they go down, so do you.

Whether its due to a natural disaster, bankruptcy or they’re just having a bad day, if their service goes down so does yours.

It’s a trap!

Many of their tools and formats are proprietary, which makes it difficult to transfer your data to alternate solutions. This is by design to keep you as a customer by making migration painful.

Now let’s cover self-hosting!

Self -hosting

Installing software on your server or website. For example installing a plugin on WordPress.

What are the advantages of Self-Hosting?

Self-hosting is the alternative to SaaS. If you’re reading this you probably already use a self-hosted platform, ever heard of WordPress?

WordPress and supporting tools/plugins/themes (including Groundhogg) are all examples of self-hosted tools.

In the case of self-hosting, the advantages and disadvantages are almost entirely reversed!

Inexpensive and scalable.

You can scale a self-hosted app indefinitely without any increase in cost. Purchasing licenses for self-hosted tools are generally much less expensive than their SaaS counterparts, or free altogether. This is because self-hosted tools do not have the expense of servers. Instead, they have community contributors and a lot of their code is outsourced.

Complete control.

Since the software is installed in your site, you have complete control over its operation. Make modifications, feature changes, settings changes, it’s up to you.

Complete ownership.

Again, since you have the software on your site you have total ownership over it and the data within. No one can take data away from you. This has significant advantages if you are in countries with regulations (like Germany) which require you to have customer data located physically within Germany.

Community contribution.

Due to the nature of self-hosted tools, they are generally surrounded by large communities of users and developers that are ready and willing to lend you assistance. This decreases the cost of implementation overall and allows more time and budget for DIY.

Deep Integration

Groundhogg, in particular, has deep integrations into WordPress and other popular WordPress plugins. Something that most SaaS lacks.

What are the disadvantages of Self-Hosting?

It’s not ALL sunshine and rainbows though (that being said, there is a LOT of sunshine). There are some things to consider when choosing to self-host.

More responsibility.

Since you are hosting the product yourself, you are therefore responsible for it. Meaning if things go wrong then it’s really up to you and your team to solve it. Here at Groundhogg we have a support team to provide as much assistance as possible to you solve your issues. This responsibility also means that if you experience a security breach and your data is leaked it is your responsibility as well.

Dependencies on other tools.

Groundhogg, in particular, is dependent on the functionality of WordPress. If you have multiple plugins installed they can modify the expected behavior of Groundhogg to something you may have not expected. In order for Groundhogg to function properly, WordPress must also function properly.

Required updates and maintenance.

Whenever new features are released, you have to update the software to get them. If you fall behind on updates this can lead to undesirable consequences like security breaches. You must always keep your site and plugins up to date.

So which one should I choose?

It really depends on your requirements.

If you are on a budget and are looking to get something up and running quickly, self-hosting would be the better option since it’s free and can be installed in your site quickly.

If you are interested in a more managed experience and would like to pass the responsibility of hosting onto someone else, then SaaS is the choice for you.

What do you think?

Feel free to leave a comment if you have some thoughts on choosing Self-Hosting versus SaaS

Picture of Adrian Tobey

Adrian Tobey

Adrian is the founder and lead developer of Groundhogg. He believes that marketing automation should be simple and accessible so any business can use it to grow.

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