Flexibility of deployment of survey softwares: Three distinct models


SaaS, On-premises, or Private Cloud for online survey software: the main differences among them

While survey software plays an important role for companies in the gathering of insights and data from customers, employers, and stakeholders, getting to grips with the range of deployment options available–and the advantages and disadvantages of each–can take significant reading and research. Which option is compatible with your current IT infrastructure? Which is easiest to customize? And which will enable you to scale up or down your usage as and when you require? 

If you’re currently looking into the flexibility of deployment of survey softwares and considering which model will best suit your company’s needs, then keep reading. In this complete guide to SaaS, on-premises, and private cloud survey software models, we’ll run you through the pros and cons of each model and the core differences between them so you can make an informed decision about which deployment option will work best for your organization. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge you need to select a survey software that truly meets your needs, preferences, budget, and current company infrastructure. 

Ready to learn more? Then let’s dive in! 

SaaS survey software 

What is SaaS survey software? 

SaaS survey software is remotely-hosted, cloud-based software used by companies to distribute surveys, collect user data, and analyze results via a web-based platform or portal. Unlike other types of survey hostings which require the installation of software on a company’s local IT infrastructure, SaaS survey software is usually accessed by its users via a regular web browser. 

Examples of SaaS survey software include SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, Alchemer, and Typeform.

How does it work? 

The technology used in SaaS survey software is cloud-based and referred to as multi-tenant software, which means the infrastructure and resources, such as servers and networking components, are shared among multiple companies or “tenants”  simultaneously. 
Users of the software typically access the survey services via web browsers while survey providers take care of all hosting responsibilities such as maintenance and software updates. Unlike other survey software options, SaaS survey software requires no on-premises technology and no installations.

Pros of SaaS survey software 

A huge advantage of SaaS survey software is the speed with which teams can get started. Once signed up to a software provider, a team’s survey creation and distribution can begin immediately. Thanks to the software’s cloud-based data storage and survey solutions, no hardware installation is required which additionally mitigates the need for input from IT professionals. The repair and maintenance costs associated with on-premises survey software are also therefore reduced. 

SaaS survey software offers organizations subscription flexibility, too. In practice, this means a company can avoid committing to a single plan over the longer term that may be less relevant to them as its needs change. For companies who need to, services can instead be scaled up or down incrementally as and when the business requires. Thanks to the fixed pricing that comes with many SaaS survey software packages, ongoing costs are also more predictable.

Another benefit of SaaS survey software is the reassurance that comes with the automatic backing up and protection of data in the cloud. Team members no longer have to worry about losing valuable information or not being able to access the data they need. With cloud-based survey software, regular backups are performed automatically and survey data can be accessed anywhere in the world by authorized members of staff. Online solutions also offer experienced security that benefits from public cloud protections and which are expensive, both in purchases and personnel, to duplicate with on-premises software.

Cons of SaaS survey software 

Limited control is perhaps foremost in the minds of business owners when they consider implementing SaaS survey software. This is because companies are forced to rely entirely on third-party providers to host and maintain the cloud-based survey services they have signed up to. Business owners might be concerned about what happens if the cloud provider goes out of business, or they become victims of “vendor lock-in”; when the vendor makes it difficult or expensive for the user to transfer their data to another cloud-based survey provider. 

Integration is another challenge for businesses considering SaaS survey software. While it’s true that a positive of this technology is its software integration possibilities, there’s no guarantee that all software can be integrated with all types of cloud-based software. In contrast, users who opt for Checkbox (either on-premises or SaaS) can make use of the robust REST API–a tool for the enablement of any action in the platform via code. This API supports seamless communication between different systems, enabling smooth integration of all tools.

On-premises survey software 

What is on-premises survey software? 

On-premises survey software refers to survey software that is run directly through a company’s on-site computers, company servers, or in-house IT infrastructure; from implementation of the software through to repairs, maintenance, and security updates.The advanced security that on-premises survey software enables makes it a popular option in industries which must adhere to strict data security regulation, such as government and financial services sectors. 

How does it work? 

On-premises survey software runs through a company’s existing servers or via its local IT infrastructure. Installation typically involves an organization downloading a software package from the survey provider’s website that is then configured by the company to meet its specific survey creation and data collection needs. Data collected from surveys is stored directly in the company’s own infrastructure, however the exact storage of the data will depend on the preferences configured by the company. These might include storage on a local database or company filing system, for example. 

Pros of on-premises survey software 

Data control and security make on-site survey software the top choice for many organizations. With the technology running on a company’s internal IT infrastructure rather than via cloud computing, companies are more able to both control their data and keep it secure from potential threats. In addition to stringent digital security measures, access controls, and robust encryption on networks, companies with on-site survey software can also employ physical security measures to further boost the protection of equipment and prevent tampering or theft.

The ability of on-premises software to integrate smoothly with other systems such as CRM tools or ERP technology is another key advantage to using on-premises survey software. Seamless tailoring and configuration supports integration with each new tool while ensuring company needs are met and internal workflows are bolstered–all without the need for APIs or other cloud-based systems. At Checkbox, our on-premises users can use their own SMTP server for emails and store their backups in the Active Directory in whatever increments and for however long they want. In addition, our on-premises customers can enjoy the flexibility of being able to write out their audit logs in whatever format they choose.

On-premises survey technology offers significant advantages when it comes to compliance with industry regulation, too. When software is stored and controlled on-site, organizations are more easily able to ensure that they are complying with industry standards and can make any necessary adjustments or configurations in-house. Additionally, the storage of data within a company’s own IT infrastructure means that organizations can better implement and maintain industry-standard data protection measures such as encryption protocols, which further facilitates the adherence to industry rules and criteria. 

The customization opportunities which on-premises survey software facilitate is a core reason for its popularity, with its range and depth of customization possibilities far exceeding those of cloud-based survey software due to the implicit control a company has over its in-house technology. Organizations can integrate the on-site survey software with existing in-house systems, team workflows, and company databases, all the while customizing data exchange procedures and creating an environment that fully meets the needs of the business and its customers. 

Cons of on-premises survey software 

Higher up front costs are one of the most-cited negatives of choosing on-premises survey software. Although companies who opt for this type of software tend to enjoy significant long term savings due to the elimination of the subscription fees associated with alternative survey software options, there’s no getting away from the initial high investment required in hardware and licensing fees that on-site software requires. 

The ability to scale up or down is not as straightforward with on-premises survey software as with online options due to the fixed resource capacity that storing data on-site entails. When an organization needs more resources or storage they are required to purchase additional servers or infrastructure which can be both costly and time consuming.

The combination of technical and maintenance skills needed to operate and run on-premises infrastructure may not necessarily exist within a company’s existing team. Unlike cloud or web-based software, on-premises survey software requires the company to be responsible for its own maintenance and repair, which can lead to external support being brought in and higher ongoing costs. 

Private cloud software

What is private cloud survey software? 

Sometimes referred to as an internal cloud or corporate cloud, a private cloud refers to a cloud computing environment that only a single customer can access and which contains all of their hardware and software technology. The architecture of private cloud software is constructed according to native cloud principles which gives a business more flexibility when it comes to moving data to a public cloud or running workloads within a mixed public and private cloud environment (known as a “hybrid cloud”) as and when they need to.

How does it work? 

A private cloud method of deployment is a single tenant, isolated-access environment that generally refers to a private section hosted on a major cloud provider’s hardware. This deployment method dictates that everything stored within it is accessible to the specified customer and no one else. 

Other hosting options of this deployment method include:

  • On-site within the client’s own data center or infrastructure 
  • On an independent cloud provider’s infrastructure 
  • Within the infrastructure of an offsite data center

The way that private cloud software is managed can also vary from customer to customer. While some choose to manage and run everything themselves internally, others choose to let the service provider take responsibility for some or all of this to ease up the company’s own workload.  Aside from the single-tenant design, private clouds essentially use the same technology as other cloud-based software, whereby customers can use virtual servers and resources to seamlessly scale their storage and optimize resource utilization. The automation of tasks, virtualization (the removal of the limitations of hardware), and management software to boost security and availability are all additional features which private cloud users can take advantage of. 

Pros of private cloud survey software 

Private cloud survey software offers the perfect middle ground between SaaS and on-premises technologies for companies which are not strictly regulated that want to enjoy the flexibility and scalability of SaaS survey software without sacrificing the access control, security assurances, and customization opportunities enabled by on-premises survey software. 

Organizations have full control over the hardware and software they choose to install when they opt for private cloud survey software. A company can select the technology that suits their organization and specific needs best and is under no obligation to use the preferred hardware or software of the cloud provider. While with SaaS solutions companies are obliged to share their servers, on a private cloud they have their own environment. 

With Checkbox’s private cloud survey software option, our clients benefit from a single-tenant, isolated-access environment that comes with the full support of our team of experts who manage and maintain it. In addition to automated product updates and technical assistance, organizations benefit from the fact that their environment will not be impacted by the traffic caused by other companies. 

Finally, companies which opt for a private cloud over other survey software options benefit from greater visibility and transparency regarding the security of their data and access control. The reason for this is because workloads running on single tenant survey software run behind an organization’s own firewall and are therefore only accessible to authorized company personnel at any time.

Cons of private cloud survey software 

Choosing private cloud survey software typically comes with a higher price tag than its cloud-based or on-premises survey software equivalents, particularly in short term use cases. The cost generally includes the purchase of the service itself, the installation of the necessary hardware, software, and infrastructure components, and the additional price attached to operational costs such as managing and running it. 

Underutilization is a risk companies face when using single tenant survey software environments as they must plan their infrastructure investments based on the company’s needs when their service is at peak demand. When this capacity is not realized, or if it is not realized often enough, resources can end up being wasted and inefficiencies can occur. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that running and maintaining a private cloud environment such as the kind required for survey software can be complex and require significant resources. In addition to ensuring a team member has expertise in the areas of security, storage management, networking and virtualization, simply operating and maintaining a private cloud infrastructure can mean investing in specialist training for its staff. However, when a company chooses to partner with a survey software provider like Checkbox, specialist support is on-hand to support the installation and running of survey software on a private cloud. Additionally, our highly-trained team of customer representatives will enable your team to make full use of the range of features the tool provides. 


We hope our run through of the different deployment options for survey software helps you to make the most informed decision for your organization. If you’d like to learn more about survey software and how Checkbox can support you, head back to the blog for more articles like this one, or, for a 30-minute comprehensive overview of the tool, request a demo here. 

April 4, 2024
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Subscribe to Checkbox and get the latest survey news.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Run surveys. Get insights.
Free plan, no time limit
Set up in minutes
No credit card required
Free trial

Get a comprehensive overview in our live demo

Checkbox develops affordable, feature-rich survey software for organizations, teams, and individuals

Survey Software