Cloud vs. On-premise: A customer’s viewpoint

Chloe MendoncaPosted by Chloe Mendonca

The cloud or on-premise: which is best? Many organisations are asking this question, and migration to the cloud is undoubtedly one of the biggest trends in the technology industry right now.

Many organisations are finding vast benefits from moving to the cloud. A recent research study by the School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering and Leeds Beckett University, highlights how the cloud plays an instrumental role in the reduction of environmental and financial costs – often a 50% saving on costs related to the installation and maintenance of IT infrastructure in academic institutions. I was interested to learn more about the customer experience of moving from an on-premise system into the cloud.

My recent conversation with Paul Adriaans, IT Coordinator in Education at the Faculty of Law of the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands gave me some insight into what prompted their move from Questionmark Perception—our on-premise assessment management system— to Questionmark OnDemand—our cloud-based solution. Paul explained how the transition worked for them.

What is your history with Questionmark?
We began using Questionmark Perception at the University in the Faculty of Law department in 2007 and in December 2013 we moved to OnDemand.

What made you decide to go OnDemand?
With the on-premise system we always needed to get someone onsite to do the upgrades, as it required us to install the latest version of the software and set up our servers. This took planning, time and resources. We deployed the on-demand system within a few hours and the preparation was easy. Cost was another factor. The money spent internally to maintain our systems, was higher compared to the cost of going OnDemand. Moving to OnDemand also gives us greater flexibility to expand and grow our usage in the future.

Did you have any concerns about moving to OnDemand?
Understandably we were cautious about security. With our on-premise installation, we were accustomed to being fully in control of our own data security. Moving to the cloud meant entrusting Questionmark with data protection–but this new approach provides excellent security while still giving us complete access to our data. The university worked with SURF, the collaborative ICT organisation for Dutch higher education and research, and online learning services provider Up Learning, to test and approve Questionmark’s security. (The Questionmark OnDemand environment is located in an ISO accredited EU data center with multiple layers of security.)

How did you find the transition?
The upgrade process didn’t take a lot of work from our end, as we started with a clean database. We chose not to transfer old exams, users and schedules, but only to keep questions and a selection of the most recent exams. So we added all of the questions and exams that we still needed by exporting and importing QPacks (encrypted zip files) ourselves. We were able to have support from Up Learning as well as support from Questionmark’s help desk and customer care teams. They were very supportive and provided useful emails to guide us throughout the process.

How has the switch to Questionmark OnDemand affected your work?
OnDemand gives us access to all of the latest features as soon as they’re available. Due to the internal IT resources required to carry out an upgrade for our on-premise system, we were often several versions behind the OnDemand system. Now we always have the latest version and don’t have to worry about upgrading. If and when we decide to grow our assessment programme across the university, we know that OnDemand is flexible enough to accommodate that.

One Response to Cloud vs. On-premise: A customer’s viewpoint

  1. Bjorn says:

    It is very true that it is horrendously difficult to upgrade an OnPremise installation. We’ve always needed to have a QM consultant on site for 5 days to do the job, and for both of the previous upgrades we’ve needed unreleased hot-fixes to get basic functionality working. That QM tech support doesn’t want to support old versions is a big pain with OnPremise, and the fact that bugs are never fixed in old versions takes a lot of effort on our part to work around. We would love to go to OnDemand, but we can’t due to bugs in question selection in the OnDemand versions (and newer OnPremise versions) and because the reporting functionality is simply not there – even simple queries like pass/fail ratios between men/women per month for a test center are impossible (not to mention any report where you have to join on data that is not in QM – virtually impossible without the ability to create new tables in the QM database and import data).

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