It was salesforce.com which really brought “the cloud” to CRM, with on demand applications fully hosted within their US data centres. The “no software” badge brought huge benefits to organisations, both smaller companies who wanted to avoid large infrastructure capital outlay, and large organisations who wanted solutions deployed at speed.
Elsewhere, other CRM providers were somewhat slow in catching up, but gradually Microsoft Dynamics, and now Sage Saleslogix among others provide hosted, on demand services alongside their on-premise offerings.
These solutions, however, aren’t always the answer organisations need. While providing fairly comprehensive CRM functionality “out of the box”, some complex implementations struggle in this hosted environment where there may be restrictions around what code and bespoke changes can be made to the environment.
For some of our clients, hosted solutions also have fatal flaws in terms of the location of data. For example, some UK government projects require data to be hosted in the UK, while for some of our offshore financial services clients, data legally must reside in the appropriate jurisdiction.
For these clients, on-demand solutions were generally not possible, with on-premise deployments the norm.
There is, however, a third and perhaps fourth approach. Private, dedicated hosting environments can provide security, appropriate geographic location and flexibility in bespoke modifications to the underlying technology. These can be sited either in a third party environment, or for very large organisations, within those organisation’s own data centres.
In some instances, we have provided clients with a shared infrastructure initially, and then as requirements have grown moved to a dedicated environment. This can provide more flexibility both around complex implementation requirements and the underlying hardware. Consideration in particular should be given to sizing database and file storage requirements, as successful CRM implementations often end up with large requirements and standard hosting packages can prove expensive when it comes to adding capacity.
Care should also be taken to look at total cost of solutions, and in particular the level of support provided by the on-demand providers. In some instances we have been asked to “wrap” standard support cover with a more business focussed level of support, much as we are commonly asked to provide more business-focussed training than that offered by standard product provider training courses.
Cantata has, for the last few years, been able to provide both dedicated and shared hosting environments for our clients based in our UK data centre, as well as providing on-premise solutions or advising on optimal deployments and licensing arrangements for more complex environments.
If you would like details of how Cantata can help with anything from advice around deployment options with different tools, through to provision of fully hosted services, please contact us.