SaaS vs Perpetual Platforms for Elearning Websites

E-Learning is the future of learning, teaching, training, and professional development. The online mode of teaching and learning is a profitable business sphere with a plethora of opportunities to capitalize on as an EdTech entrepreneur. This particular industry has outperformed anticipations.

two men on laptops face off

The market research firm Global Industry Analysts predicted that eLearning market will surpass the $107 Billion mark by 2015 and it did exactly that. Now there is a prediction that the Global eLearning market will proceed to cross the $325 billion mark by 2025. Looking at the recent developments in online teaching and learning industry, we cannot deny the fact that the market is poised enough to cross this mark too. In 2017, businesses made over $46 Billion by selling online courses.

Do these numbers encourage you to venture into this profitable market? Do you have an idea to start your own eLearning website? Are you confused between two popular options: SaaS and perpetual solutions to develop your eLearning platform?

Don’t worry. By the end of this post, you will have enough knowledge of the pros and cons of each of the options to make an informed learning management system (LMS) choice.

So let’s talk about everything that concerns these two popular ways to develop an eLearning website in 2019: SaaS or a perpetual eLearning solution.

What is a SaaS eLearning Solution?

SaaS is a rapidly growing solution in enterprise software development and deployment management. The development in cloud computing technologies made it possible to store and share different kinds of data through the internet via cloud delivery channels. The aim was to reduce the burden from the end-users’ hardware for storage and use a central host that would deliver whenever required.

Now, consider an eLearning website builder. Traditionally, you would need to download that software and install it on your hardware to use it.

However, with SaaS, you do not need to download or install the website builder at all. The vendor of the eLearning website builder would already have the software installed and set up on their or any third-party cloud server. You would just need to access their cloud interface and set up your website from there. Ultimately, your website will be ready and already hosted on the server.

In simple terms, SaaS delivers the finished software solutions through third-party cloud servers, which you can use from day one with no local or premise installation. They make deployment faster, maintenance easy, and hardware requirement zilch.

What is a Perpetual eLearning Solution?

Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been around way before SaaS was introduced. They are the traditional methods to set up your own eLearning website. Where SaaS solutions are generally ready-made, a perpetual eLearning platform can be both ready-made and pre-finished.  It generally involves processes such as,

  1. Downloading from the software vendor.
  2. If the base code in enough, start setting up your website. If not, customize the codes.
  3. Host your finished website on the web-server of your choice and get it live.

In all this process, you would need hardware (own or rented server) to host your website, and a team (or an expert or the skills) to do the development, deployment, and maintenance of the site. You will receive an access code to tweak the software if the base features are not enough. Most of the time, a perpetual eLearning platform has all (by default) that you would need to start an eLearning website. For example, a perpetual Udemy clone possesses most of the Udemy like features by default. If you are aware of the Udemy’s website, you would know what features to expect in Udemy clone script on the market.

Comparison of SaaS and Perpetual eLearning Solutions

Depending on your needs either can prove useful for your cause. Let’s compare these two options on various grounds to understand the pros and cons better.

Setup

As they are readymade, SaaS setup is simple and quick. Software development is done by vendors, so you get a ready solution that can be used from the first day.

Perpetual eLearning solutions are more complicated and take time to set up, time for development, setup, and deployment to the final website.

Ease of Use

SaaS is easy to use, and comparatively less complicated, as you don’t have to mess with the codes.

The perpetual software options have user interfaces can be simple to use, and if well customized, then potentially easier to use than a ready-to-go platform. However, some website settings and initial setups are complicated for a non-technical person.

Security

Generally, SaaS vendors use highly secure cloud servers. They have their own team who looks out for your website’s security.

If you opt for hosting an LMS on your own server, you are solely responsible for the security of your website. The more you know, the more security measures you take, the more your website will be. Ignoring the security measures can put your website in jeopardy.

Revenue Shares

SaaS vendors charge commissions or shares from the revenue. With a perpetual LMS, you purchase the software and run it at your own expense and profit. The vendors will not take a commission or share.

Services

The SaaS vendors provide the hosting, saving you the cost of a server. You may, however, be charged for the following items:

  • subscription plan,
  • revenue share,
  • any value-added service.

Depending on the vendor, the cost of using a perpetual eLearning solution can differ.

  • You might get the source code for free, for example, Moodle. You might have to pay for the source code ex. Agriya, PinLearn, etc.
  • You will need to have a server or pay for server services.
  • You may need to hire a developer.
  • You will have to subscribe to payment services like Stripe, PayPal, etc.

Long-term use

SaaS is ideal for new projects and short-term usage. The initial cost is lower, but over time the monthly payments do add up.

The upfront cost associated with perpetual LMS software is high and at times an obstacle. With long term use though, the initial costs become negligible.

Updates & upgrades

With SaaS, updates and upgrades are generally free, though depending on the type of system, may not take place. Regular free updates for a limited time. It depends on the vendor.

Paid perpetual systems may provide updates and upgrades for free for a limited time then require payment for major upgrades.

Source Code

With SaaS solutions, you don’t get the source code, so there is no development access. You will get a ready-made application. Only vendors can do development.

A perpetual LMs can be both ready-made and unfinished. You get and own the source code under a license agreement. Depending on the license, you can modify the code as you want.

Customization

Customizing a SaaS platform is very limited. Without access to the source code, only elements the vendors allow customization for can be customized. With perpetual platforms, you have the source code. You can customize your website the way you want.

Maintenance responsibility

SaaS vendors take care of the maintenance. You need not worry about it.

Free LMS software will not provide any maintenance services. With paid software, it depends on your agreement with the vendors. They might give you the technical support for a limited time. For the rest, you need to maintain your website on your own. However, the hosting maintenance is taken care of by your server partner.

Multiple domains

SaaS vendors require you purchase different licenses for using the software on different domains.

Perpetual software options will depend on the vendor’s licensing policy. The majority of vendors do not limit the usage on multiple domains. For example, Moodle can be used on multiple domains for free. However, you might have to pay extra for using paid Moodle modules on multiple domains.

Migration ease

No SaaS vendor supports any rival vendor’s software, so migration is nearly impossible or very complicated.

Perpetual systems are developed on standard frameworks and database technologies, which are common in most of the perpetual vendors. Migration is not an issue here.

SaaS eLearning applications Perpetual eLearning solutions
Quick Setup
Security
Customization Limited Highly customizable
Maintenance
Revenue Share
Source code
Multiple Domains
Scalability Limited Highly scalable.
Migration

Verdict

SaaS solutions are the best options for starting a business quickly and with limited resources. With the technical aspects all handled by the SaaS vendors, you just have to worry about developing your business with your unique ideas. However, for a long-term commitment, SaaS vendors’ costs add up.

On the other hand, perpetual solutions are the best option for medium to large-sized ventures, whose businesses are already stable and may already have a tech team and sufficient capital for the initial setup. Perpetual solutions like Udemy clone script can be a good option for such websites.

 

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