System availability is always one of the greatest concerns of any company’s executive management team. For some companies, a system that is down is merely an inconvenience.  For many others, they are out of business until the ability to process returns.  So, this issue of system availability has been turned into a straw man of sorts, by those on both sides who use it to scare you into buying what they sell.

The real truth of the matter is that system availability is probably the same for a cloud-based system as it is for an on-premises system, so don’t be fooled into using this issue as one of your key ones.  Cloud providers tout the fact that they are close to being 100% reliable.  You can find NetSuite’s current System Availability here, and has their Service Performance History here.

You can see from NetSuite’s site that they are available well over 99.9% of the time, and they commit to a minimum availability of 99.5%.  Does that mean that you can access them 99.9% of the time.  Well, no it doesn’t.  The availability of NetSuite’s service doesn’t just depend on its own hardware.  It also depends on the availability of your Internet connection, which depends on your service provider, and all the connections between you and that provider, and it also depends on the availability of your own workstation.  My guess is that your own workstation is not nearly as reliable as NetSuite’s (Oracle’s) server farm.

The availability of an on-premises solution depends on the reliability of your own hardware, your ability to keep out hackers, your electrical and environmental issues, etc.  Is it 99.5%?  I’m guessing that it’s close.  If your in-house system is down for maintenance for 4 hours per month, and assuming that there are 730 hours in an “average” month, then your system has an availability of 99.45%.  Close enough.

Unfairly to NetSuite and, there have been much publicized outages in the past few years, that have been used by on-premises advocates to warn away cloud prospects.  The problem with this is that the average on-premises system has probably had an outage just as often, but it wasn’t publicized in ZDNet or Computer Reseller News.  There are more pronounced and fundamental differences between on-premises and cloud software, which we’ll get into in upcoming blogs.  Using system availability as a differentiator will lead you to a bad decision.

Doug Deane is President of DSD Business Systems, a national provider of on-demand (cloud) and on-premises ERP and CRM software, specializing in wholesale distribution, manufacturing, warehouse management, inventory, business intelligence and eCommerce software.  DSD offers Sage 100 (formerly MAS 90), Sage 300 (formerly Accpac), Sage 500 (formerly MAS 500), NetSuite, Sage FAS, Sage HRMS (formerly Abra), Sage CRM, Sage SalesLogix, Extended Solutions, and Custom Programming.

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