Part 4. Cloud v Local Applications


Servers vs Desktops

In the past all software was loaded onto the company’s servers, desktops and laptops, as either desktop systems or client/server systems. The past few years has also seen the growth in popularity of Cloud applications.

Desktop applications run and have all their data on an individual’s workstation (their laptop, PC, Mac, telephone or PDA). They don’t share that data with other users in the organisation, and they don’t have access to other users’ data. Examples are Microsoft Outlook, or a spreadsheet sitting on the workstation.

Desktop applications are loved by sales people as they are easy to use and highly personal, but the company has no sight or ownership of the data.

What is a server for CRM?

Client/Server applications have a client application running on the workstation and a server application running on a shared fileserver that hosts the data.

  • The server is a computer owned, managed by and located at the user’s office. The client talks to the server over a network.
  • Some processing takes place on the client, some on the server, and both client and server applications need to be installed and maintained.
  • If you have multiple offices then those offices either need to be connected with a high speed WAN (Wide Area Network), or multiple systems are installed which then have to be synchronised.
  • Most traditional CRM systems function this way. Examples include Goldmine and Microsoft Dynamics.

Client/Server applications allow everybody in the organisation to share the data, but can be complicated and time consuming to install and maintain, especially if you want multiple offices to share the data or remote access. They normally required dedicated servers with additional software on then, such as database systems, that have to be purchased and maintained.

Cloud applications are accessed from any workstation or device that has an Internet browser installed, including your workstation at work, your PC at home or a terminal in an Internet café, and increasing your mobile/cell phone. The processing and the data are held on the supplier’s servers which are located in a data centre with fast Internet connectivity.

What are Cloud applications?

Cloud applications are quick to install and use, solve the remote access problem, need no IT support, but are normally less flexible than client/server systems. The rental payment model can appear to be more expensive at first sight, but if you add up the true cost of installing and running an in-house system, including license cost, server and associated operating system and database license cost, annual maintenance of software and hardware, internal IT resources applying maintenance fixes, updates and unscrambling out-of-sync laptops, they can be cheaper even in the long term.

There is also the question of ownership of the data, and the ability to get it back either for analysis or to move to another system.

  • Most hosted CRM systems hold the data for all their customers in one database, so legally the data is theirs, not yours.
  • It can be hosted outside of your country, raising data protection and privacy issues. And it can be surprisingly difficult to get “your” data back in a useful format when you want to move to another system.
  • Check with the supplier how these issues are addressed.



Hosted v Local Applications: Comparison Table





Company wide view of data

No Yes Yes


Fast Depends on network: normally fast locally but can be slow inter-office over a WAN Depends on Internet connection speed. Great in an office, great with broadband, acceptable with a dial-up modem

Application Access

If the application is on your laptop and you have it with you, you have access Easy if you are in the office; possible but technically difficult if you are out of the office Easy providing that there is Internet access

Support and Backup

User supported Internal IT department supported Supplier supported

Ability to Customise

Unlimited, if you have the resources Unlimited, if you have the resources Varies, but normally more limited that client/server.

Data Access

Yes Yes If the vendor has an API


How to Implement a good CRM system

Unless you have implemented, as opposed to used, a CRM system before it will pay to be guided by a specialist supplier, preferably one that can take the time to meet you face to face.

An experienced implementer will be able to advise you:

  • how best to configure the system to meet your requirements,
  • how to reconcile the many conflicting internal requirements and
  • how to map your existing data into the new system.

They may also offer training, normally split into:

  • quick courses for sales people,
  • forecasting for sales managers, and
  • longer more comprehensive ones for database administrators and marketing people.



10 Critical Factors in choosing a CRM factors

A six-part blog about how many CRM implementations go wrong because implementers fall into the same common traps. This Guide lists the ten most common pitfalls, and how you can avoid them.
•  Part 1 – A Brief History of CRM
•  Part 2 – Divided into Getting the Design Right,
• Part 3 – Choosing the Right System,
• Part 4 – Cloud v Local Application
 Part 5. Getting the Adoption Right, and
• Part 6. Avoiding the Pitfalls,

This guide will show you how to make sure that your CRM system will be a success, based on real life experience.
Knowing what the pitfalls are is more than half the battle.

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