Why should I choose cloud based digital signage software over on-premise?

Businessman with cloud computing concept

The truth is, you shouldn’t always choose cloud-based software over on-premise. In fact, there are times when on-premise might be best. Both are here to stay; this is what this article is going to explain. The pros and cons of both options, in a transparent manner. Hopefully, by the end of it, you will know what will be best for you. 

Explainer: To begin with, what do these two terms refer to in digital signage? On-premise means the content management server and software will be on a hard drive on a machine which you own. Cloud based (or SaaS) on the other hand means that the content management server and software will be on someone else’s server and you can access everything through the web.

You’d have to have been hiding under a rock to not have noticed the growth in popularity of cloud computing in recent years. For many it has been a saviour replacing old, archaic systems to a more flexible manageable one, saving on time and money. However, both cloud and on-premise get you the same result, it’s just a case of how that differs. So what factors should enter into your decision to look at cloud or on-premise? From a digital signage perspective the things to consider are:

  • The size of your network. Typically smaller networks find the lower up front cost of cloud digital signage a smaller hurdle to overcome. The flexibility and scalability cloud provides will also enable and be ready for growth without incurring too many more additional costs (licences only).
  • What do you want to achieve? This is another crucial determining factor.
  • What I.T. resources do you have? If the answer is not much or they’re all tied up on other business requirements then cloud offers the flexibility for everything to be managed.
  • What is your Budget? 
  • Software ownership. If you want to ultimately own the software then on-premise is the right solution for you. There will be no ongoing costs for it (aside from any maintenance contracts you might have with the provider, and also update costs to newer versions with additional features).
  • Security risk assessment. You will need to assess if your data would be safer in the cloud or on a server or PC in your office.


You don’t own the software. The upfront costs are typically much lower than an on-premise solution. There is no need for on site servers. Updates and maintenance are the responsibility of the digital signage provider and you don’t need local I.T. support. You will need a reliable internet connection through which to have the latest software updates. Don’t worry though even without an internet connection your content will still show on the screens (unless you are streaming).


  • Lower upfront costs
  • Scalable
  • You are not responsible for software updates or maintenance
  • There is no need for on site servers
  • There is no need for a dedicated I.T. specialist to look after the network
  • The system does not rely on just one computer – so make sure you check out the company’s SLAs on this
  • Security is taken care of by the experts – organisations like AWS etc. do this on a daily basis so you can have peace of mind that the cloud is totally secure
  • Centrally managed content – much easier for keeping things on brand and consistent (you choose if areas of the organisation have an option to manage and create some of the content), perfect for global deployments
  • Locally Updated Content – for organisations with multiple offices and departments, being able to access a cloud-based digital signage platform from any Internet connected device makes it easy to include distributed teams in the update and management of digital signage content
  • Easy to access your solution anywhere and from any device with an internet connection – this has become even more important with the recent home office trend since 2020 


  • Dealing with firewalls on a secure network can be tricky and might require some input/assistance from your I.T. team
  • Content will not update unless you are connected to the Internet

On premise

You own everything: the software, the hardware, you’re in charge of whether you update the software and hardware or not. You are in charge of the maintenance (unless you have a service contract with a provider). Technical support can come as an additional cost unless you provide everything for your company via your I.T. resources.


  • Complete control over deployment
  • You control if and when you wish to install updates and features
  • Possibly lower outlay of costs over time (if not subscribing to a maintenance and support contract)
  • Scalable


  • Higher upfront costs at purchase
  • Responsible for all software and hardware updates and maintenance
  • Data hosted on your server so you will either buy it or build it
  • For multi-location organisations, on-premise solutions can be challenging to setup to allow remote employees to assist to administer and update content 

Typically, cloud based digital signage is chosen for flexibility, ease of management and organisations who prefer to have a fixed monthly or yearly cost knowing what their expenditure will be. On-premise will be more favourable if you wish to pay once and upfront for the solution.

As mentioned at the beginning, both achieve the same thing but how this is achieved will differ, so make sure you have reviewed all options.

As a final thought below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the above:

Question: Can I swap from an on-premise solution to a cloud based one?

Answer: Yes, you can. You will need to check firstly if the hardware you currently have is compatible with the cloud based digital signage provider and whether it can be repurposed. It’s a bonus if it is as you can reduce additional outlay on having to swap out hardware as well as the software.

Question: Can I swap from a cloud based solution to an on-premise one?

Answer: Yes, you can. You will need to ensure that you cancel your subscription, determine who internally will need to be responsible for managing the servers and if required build the infrastructure. Don’t forget the contingency plan, what happens if that individual leaves the organisation? Make sure the knowledge does not leave with them.

Don’t see your question answered? Drop us a message and we can discuss.

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