While the adoption of cloud usage continues to accelerate (greater than two out of three enterprises are incorporating the cloud today), a report issued by U.K.-based communications services provider BT Group indicates that IT decision makers’ confidence in the security of the cloud is at an all-time low. Moreover, a report issued by telecomm company CenturyLink reveals that the enterprise continues to value in-house IT infrastructure. In total, the report found that enterprises have roughly 65 percent of their IT in-house, with 35 percent outsourced to the cloud.
For enterprise, the risks of the cloud often outweigh its many benefits. Of course, access to data, mobility, relatively low cost and startup time are attractive, but not at the expense of security, compliance mandates around data storage, green-screen legacy applications and extensive, complicated on-premise IT infrastructure. This is especially true for government entities and Fortune 1000 enterprises.
E-Sign as a Service Isn’t For Everyone
Electronic signature is often thought of exclusively as a cloud-based service. When the E-Sign act passed back in 2000, electronic signature providers begun to crop up around seven to eight years later. These providers were primarily SaaS-based electronic signature providers because they are quick and cost-effective for small and mid-sized companies. However, SaaS-only solutions were and still are primarily unusable by more than half of enterprises, in particular those in regulated industries. Enterprises and regulated entities, like state and federal government agencies, need control over their data, must adhere certain protocols to stay in compliance, and value security above all else.
No “O to 60” in Regulated Industries & Fortune 1000
Of the enterprises that are moving to the cloud, the transition isn’t “O to 60,” instead, it’s gradual. More than 80 percent of enterprise IT professionals are leveraging private cloud solutions that are being hosted in clouds on-premises rather than with third-party providers, according to a survey of VMworld 2013 attendees conducted by Metacloud, Inc. Of the 195 individuals polled at the VMworld, almost three quarters (73 percent) reported having a portion of IT in the cloud with 48 percent option for private over public. The enterprise preference for on-premise and private cloud is summed up well in this quote from Intel CIO, Kim Stevenson, “That’s why you have to have this integrated, hybrid enterprise…you have to be assured that your data is secure and there’s visibility in those transmissions.” Regulated industries and enterprises can’t go from on-premise to public cloud in no time due to security and infrastructure concerns, among others. For some, it may never make sense to go to the cloud. For others, the move may make sense but they’ll need to transitional approach to moving their IT infrastructures to the cloud. These entities, then, are in need of e-sign software deployed in-house or deployed via hybrid cloud or private cloud. Few electronic signature providers offer on-premise and hybrid options; however, those that do are meeting the needs of these industries that prefer on-premise or are in need a gradual approach. Enter the hybrid cloud.
Gartner estimates that 50 percent of enterprises will have hybrid clouds by 2017. Hybrid cloud is a mix of on-premise data center and cloud-hosted apps and data. Hybrid cloud deployments offer the best of both cloud and on-premise, allowing for the use of the public cloud for some, less sensitive business applications that need to be accessed in multiple locations. However, sensitive data can still be stored and accessed on-premise. For these reasons, hybrid electronic signature deployments are preferable to 100 percent on-premise or cloud for many enterprises and government entities, providing for the desired control and security while harnessing the mobility and flexibility offered through the cloud.
The Cost Factor
Another key factor in considering cloud vs. on-premise is the cost factor. The question, from a cost perspective, boils down to, do I want to own it (pay for it once)? or rent it (pay for it forever)? Renting, or the traditional SaaS model, definitely has its benefits. Primarily, the convenience and limited cost if you have a limited scope, smaller number of e-sign users or moderate transaction volume. In addition, the tax and budget advantages of being OpEx versus CapEx can also come into play. However, if you’re an organization that does hundreds of thousands of transactions or deploy hundreds of seats, owning your e-sign solution may be your best financial option. In addition to your data security being your own, you can control costs significantly by using your own hardware and IT infrastructure. Typically, during the course of three years of ownership, you save up to 50 percent, depending for how long you utilize the solution.
Deploy As You Like
AssureSign is one of the few electronic signature providers in the market that understands the needs of large enterprises and regulated organizations. Our approach to deployment is ‘deploy as you like’ because it’s our belief that electronic signature software should integrate seamlessly into customers’ existing IT infrastructures, and should be able to evolve along with the changing needs of the enterprise. It’s why we have the electronic signature industry’s most flexible APIs and why our customer service team out-delivers our competitors on deployments. Whether you’re looking for SaaS, on-premise, or a hybrid model, AssureSign makes it easy to E-Sign your way!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
President & CEO