United States: Negotiating Technology Contracts: On-premise vs. Cloud And Hosted Software

More and more businesses are considering accessing hosted software rather than purchasing on-premise software. They are also placing data in third-party public or private clouds instead of selecting on-premise software. This article will explain the key considerations and contractual provisions when deciding to utilize a hosted software cloud solution versus on-premise software solutions.


1. Strategic Considerations

Using hosted software in the cloud allows for greater flexibility such as: allowing a business to access its information from any location, and not having the initial outlay of capital to purchase servers and other infrastructure when implementing the software's use. This is a significant departure from on-premise software, which often requires substantial infrastructure investment, and can only be accessed from the device the software installed.

2. Financial Considerations

  • Cost Savings. Most businesses switch to the cloud because of the belief in inherent cost savings. However, in the long run, switching to the cloud will not always result in savings. Cloud infrastructure costs money, and the business will be the one that bears the costs, usually in a monthly subscription, instead of a yearly license fee.
  • Return on Investment – Moving from CapEx to OpEx. On-premise software products and hardware infrastructure are generally considered capital expenditures, while subscriptions to cloud software are typically classified as operating expenses. It is important to consult with tax professionals to ensure there are no unintended consequences from making the switch from on-premise to hosed software products.
  • Infrastructure investments / upgrades. Generally, on-premise software requires purchase of hardware or use of infrastructure that is already in place. On the other hand, moving to the cloud may require an investment in upgraded devices or equipment to maximize the value of the hosted solutions.
  • Cost to implement or migrate. When moving from on-premise to the cloud, there can be significant implementation or migration costs. Companies may not adequately consider the costs related to migrating data to the hosting or storage providers. The number of man hours required to successfully migrate can be significant and costly. Accordingly, the scope and complexity of the migration is an important consideration when negotiating a contract.

3. Operational Considerations

  • Outsourcing activities. Using the cloud can pave the way to outsourcing non-core operations. On the other hand, on-premise software may require more sophisticated security credentials currently in place, whereas the cloud application may reduce that need.
  • Support. On-premise software generally requires maintenance and support along with support levels and support times. These generally are limited to business hours, and come with increased costs for after-hours support. When using the cloud, maintenance and support are included as part of the package, and are generally included as a 24/7/365 service.

4. Technical Considerations

  • Infrastructure. To use on-premise software, companies must procure appropriate hardware. For cloud solutions, the cloud vendor provides the hardware, infrastructure and applications for the software to work, but that does not mean that there is no investment by the end user to the software. The end users may need to upgrade devices and security plug-ins. They also may need to expand firewalls to cope with the additional internet traffic. Internet providers may need to provide more bandwidth.
  • Location and Ownership of the data. There is little question as to where data will be stored and who will own the data when using on-premise software – the customer owns the data. However, when using cloud solutions, the location and ownership of the data may become unclear. A business wants to own its data and not let it be used for research or statistical purposes, particularly by its competitors. Additionally, many businesses want or need the data to be stored in the nation where they are located or where they are doing business, and not some remote or foreign locations.

5. Security, Backup, & Privacy Considerations

  • Security. When using cloud or on-premise software security is important. On-premise software provides a level of security that is implemented through patches and updates to the software. Cloud providers can hand off their hosting and security to a third party provider, which can compound security risks. It is critical to understand and document who bears the risks of a security incident in the event of a security incident.
  • Backup. For on-premise software, the backup is left to the business user. For cloud, the cloud provider generally provides the backup for certain intervals of time, which is generally contracted for by agreement. It's important to have a backup schedule with redundant backups when contracting with a cloud provider, as well as a general understanding of what information is purged from the system.
  • Privacy. For on-premise software, privacy is generally not a concern, because the software is part of the business infrastructure. However, in a cloud implementation, privacy issues become a major concern because business information is sent over the internet which can be intercepted by hackers. Understanding how the cloud provider protects your privacy is always important.Accordingly, below is a list of key contractual provisions that are critical when deciding to utilize hosted software in the cloud vs. on-premise software.


  1. Strategic Considerations It is critical to clearly identify the requirements for companies that will host software applications or store the business' data. For flexibility, it is also important to evaluate whether traditional on-premise license metrics will be appropriate for any hosted software solutions. Generally, it is best practice to negotiate the number of users rather than the number of devices when negotiating a cloud deal for maximum use. A user can use several devices at once, and being charged for each device would be costly to the business.
  2. Financial Considerations To be sure fees are controlled when deciding on utilizing an on-premise solution versus a hosted software solution, the business should calculate the cost of both on-premise licenses along with maintenance and support and compare the costs to the total amount required to subscribe to the hosted version of the software solution. If the costs are relatively the same, then capping the monthly cloud subscription every year would be wise to keep costs in line. Additionally, it's important to negotiate infrastructure upgrades and implementation and migration costs to the cloud or to any subsequent provider.
  3. Operational Considerations It is important to negotiate who will have access to the cloud and what administrative rights will be assessed to each user. Additionally, it is best practice to negotiate the support levels when using cloud, and any service credits for failure to implement the service.
  4. Technical Considerations When negotiating a cloud deal, companies should understand and document ownership of the data, allowable uses of the data (even in aggregated form) by the cloud provider, and locations where the data may be stored.
  5. Security, Backup, & Privacy Considerations For security, it is a best practice to include security protocols in the contract and to successfully negotiate a reasonable limitation of liability for security incidents, back-up failures, or privacy incidents. In these scenarios, the limitation of liability may include a carve-out, or a super-cap to handle the increased risks involved. For backups, it is always important to contract with the cloud provider the specific backup procedures, protocols, and backup intervals required by the business. Additionally, it is important to include in the contract security reports or audits for the business to ensure that the cloud provider is following those contractual obligations. Lastly, for privacy, it is always important for the business to include privacy language and protocols for incident response. Specifically, when an incident occurs, the business should require the vendor to notify the business immediately of any privacy or security incidents. Lastly, it's always best to negotiate the appropriate levels of insurance for provisions dealing with these topics.

When switching from on-premise software to a hosted software cloud solution, there are numerous business issues to consider. Having a plan when switching to a hosted software cloud provider is crucial to a business' success. Given the risks, it is increasingly important to seek advice from experienced counsel when negotiating contracts like these to make sure the risks are adequately assessed and each party's interests are protected.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions