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When purchasing software there are many considerations including evaluating features, but did you know that there can be big differences in the deployment model as well?

Typical deployment models:

Shareware/Freeware: This is usually a basic version of the vendor’s software.  It is free but there may be costs for additional users and features.  Some have term limitations while others have unlimited use but may have other restrictions.  Make sure you read all the fine print and consider the time investment you will spend using the software based on your long-term needs.

Hosted/Cloud/SaaS: This software is ‘hosted’ on the vendor’s server.  It is accessible from any web browser and does not require IT installation.  Data is stored on the vendor’s secure server.  There are monthly fees to use the software, and may include an initial ‘set-up’ to get started.  Contracts may be month-to-month or longer.

In-House: This software is delivered to you by cd or downloaded with license key and is administrated on your server.  Someone will need to install and configure the software and your data will be kept in-house.  You own the software for as long as you wish to use it and updates are your obligation.  This model generally costs more up-front.

Annual Subscription: Here is the one that is the most confusing because it varies significantly among vendors.  Annual subscription is similar to a car lease.  You get the software (like in-house deployment where data is kept in house) and use it for a agreed length of time.  Like a car lease it does expire, and while you don’t have to turn it back in, the license will expire making the software no longer accessible.

So you may wonder why choose an annual subscription model? Annual subscription is perfect for organizations that NEED to keep their data in-house, but don’t want a large initial investment and prefer to spread out payments over time.  Buyers need to take the time to read all of the small print as there is great difference among vendors.  Buyers need to ask about other costs such as training, upgrades and support costs that could affect the total price.

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