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30th Aug 2018
Should I use onsite or cloud based software to manage my digital signage?
There’s no particular difference in the functionality or features of a cloud based digital signage solution when compared with an on-site solution. It comes down how you prefer to manage it in your business and what’s important to you.

Are you considering digital signage for your business, so how will you store and process the data? Or are you considering a move from an onsite system to a cloud based system, so what are the benefits and pitfalls? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; it depends on what your situation is.

So first things first – what is a cloud based system and how does it differ to an on-site (on-premise) system?

A cloud based digital signage solution allows web based software to carry messages and information to your digital signage screens, it’s often called a Content Management System (CMS). An on-site solution does the same thing but, is hosted on your on-site server and maintained by your in-house IT team.

At Quad Vision, we think there are three main considerations when making the decision…

  • Cost

A cloud based system has lower initial upfront cost, but is an ongoing expense. An on-site system is paid for upfront with less ongoing expense. So, if you have a capital budget available, the on-site system may be for you, if not then perhaps consider the cloud.

When making the choice, you need to consider what makes the most financial sense to your business.

  • Ease of Use

You’ll find that a cloud based system is much easier to use when controlling content across multiple properties and locations when compared to an onsite solution. Software doesn’t need a comprehensive training manual and perhaps has drag and drop capabilities with built in templates for ease of use. Also a cloud based system will lighten the IT load, requiring less updates and system maintenance.

  • Support

No in-house technical wizards needed for a cloud based system, meaning that you don’t need an IT team or externally sourced IT support for your server. But, you need to be comfortable in storing and hosting your information in a solution accessible via any standard web browser. For some of our customers, this is not an option, so an onsite solution is the only way forward. Undoubtedly you will need a small amount of local IT support.

In summary:

Cloud-Based Digital Signage Solution

  • Easy to implement and maintain
  • Lower upfront costs, but there are ongoing expenses to budget for
  • Your data is hosted in the cloud
  • Software updates are included and are rolled out automatically
  • Minimum local IT support required
  • Content player must have internet access, will usually play a cached playlist if there is any break in internet connection
  • Able to support numerous screens and displays
  • Is scalable

On-Site Digital Signage Solution

  • Higher upfront cost, but little or no ongoing expenses
  • Data is hosted on a server which you need to either buy or build
  • Installation of updates and features is under your control
  • Local IT support will be needed (which is an ongoing expense whether you employ an IT team or hire in external resource)
  • Able to support numerous screens and displays
  • Is scalable, but generally only locally
  • Needs a Local Area Network (LAN) and also internet connection (if you want to show information from the web) though you don’t have to rely on the internet connection to display your regular content

A cloud based system offers an easy to use and budget friendly solution, whereas an onsite system allows you more control, but is a higher upfront cost.

If you’re running a simple digital signage screen in a reception area for example, an onsite system may be all that’s needed. If you’re running multiple screens in multiple locations with customer interaction, then perhaps consider a cloud based system instead.

If you’re still unsure, please contact us to discuss your requirements, we’re happy to offer advice to help you make the right choice for your digital signage solution

Sanjay Saini is Managing Director of Quad Vision Ltd, specialist technical AV system integrators with a track record of managing simple and complex digital signage solution projects.