Saas vs. On Premise Server vs. Desktop Application


Do you know the different between a Web Based SaaS Solution vs. an On Premise Server vs. a Desktop Application for Digital Signage?


This post will outline the basic differences of each platform as well as address some of the benefits and limitations of each method.


Let’s define what SaaS is.


It stands for Software as a Service. It means that a user typically logs into a website that houses the software for digital signage content creation, user administration, and media player management.


The content such as images and videos are all located in the cloud which is a fancy way of saying they are on someone else’s servers.


The SaaS model is usually priced as a monthly or annual fee which covers hosting/ bandwidth costs, maintenance, support, and development.


The upside to a SaaS Solution is that the customer is essentially outsourcing their IT Department.  The customer has no need to maintain a Digital Signage Server.  Instead they are essentially renting space on a server hosted by a 3rd party.   For some customers this is also valuable in that SaaS is an operating expense as opposed to a capital expense.  This allows the custom to immediately expense that cost instead of capitalizing the cost and writing it off over a period of years.


An On Premise Server is a Web Based Solution like SaaS however instead of the customer logging into a web portal, the custom logs into a local server that they maintain.  The upside here is that a customer knows up front what their total cost will be as they are doing their own hosting.   It is more expensive up front, however there is no ongoing fees. They are responsible however for maintaining and managing that server.


A Desktop Application works like any other program that you are familiar with such as MS Word or PowerPoint.  The application is loaded onto a PC and launched from the desktop.  The user creates their content locally on their PC before sending it to the player.  The upside here is that the customer knows their total cost up front.  It is also a familiar environment to work in.  Desktop Applications are solid and have been around for a long time.  They are not however as flexible as a Web Based Solution which by design make it much easier for multiple people to collaborate on the same project from multiple locations.