What Is a Cloud-Based LMS? 7 Benefits & Buyer’s Guide

What Is a Cloud-Based LMS? 7 Benefits & Buyer’s Guide

A cloud-based learning management system may be a great fit for your business. But how does it compare to the more traditional hosted LMS? And what benefits might you expect from cloud-based solutions?

In this blog post, we’ll look at the differences and 7 key benefits that a cloud-based learning management system may offer you.

What is a Cloud-Based LMS

A cloud-based learning management system (LMS) provides a means to create, deliver, and track learning and development initiatives within your organisation. The cloud-based LMS can be accessed on most devices and doesn’t require a specific software installation to function.

Cloud-based learning management systems primarily make use of online training materials and can be useful to increase learner engagement and facilitate online learning and development programs. However, the right solution can also support in-person learning.

Cloud-Based LMS vs Hosted LMS

The key difference between a cloud-based LMS and a hosted LMS is the location of the hosting. The hosted LMS runs on local servers that you have to install at your own cost. Cloud-based is hosted on the cloud, which offers online training accessible from anywhere and on most devices.

7 Key Benefits of Cloud-Based LMS

Man uses a cloud-based LMS on-site to learn.

Cloud-based learning management can help to level up your company’s training initiatives. It’s a major upgrade from paper-based learning, but can also be a big upgrade from a hosted LMS in the following ways.

1. Affordable Adoption

Hosted LMS require an on-site server. Specialists have to come in to install the server and the LMS, and then the relevant software is installed on every device that requires access. This can be a significant investment, considering that a small server for 20 people can cost as much as $20,000.

Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, can be instantly accessed from any device or location. All you need is an account and login details. Most cloud-based LMSs use a subscription-based pricing model and pricing can start from just $50 a month.

Thus, cloud-based LMS is the far more affordable solution for both businesses and educational institutions.

2. Effortless Scaling

When scaling from 20-40 people, you’ll need to install another $20,000 server for your hosted LMS. You’ll also need to get the technicians back to install the server, set it up, and install the software on the new computers.

This makes scaling with a traditionally hosted LMS expensive and difficult.

With a cloud-based LMS, you’ll simply update your subscription and pay a different monthly fee. You may need to conduct a round of onboarding training programs for the new employees, but that’s about the extent of your scaling efforts.

3. Updates & Maintenance

The cloud-based LMS enjoys automatic updates delivered directly to your machine through the internet. You don’t have to update or re-learn software. You don’t have to schedule site visits or pay contractors to install the updates.

A hosted LMS, on the other hand, would need to be updated manually if it’s not connected to the internet. So you would have to dispatch the company who installed your LMS to come in and do the update, and potentially roll out the update to each computer on the network, further raising the average maintenance cost of your LMS.

4. Accessibility & Mobile Learning

A hosted LMS requires employees to be in the office and on their machines in order to access learning. The way around this is installing a remote desktop server, which can be even more expensive to install than standard servers.

A cloud-based LMS can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. This gives employees the choice to set their own learning schedule regardless of working hours. They can learn at home from their mobile phone, if they wish.

This level of freedom can help to integrate a culture of lifelong learning throughout your corporate training initiatives.

5. Security

In terms of security, there are benefits to both sides. With a hosted LMS that isn’t connected to the internet, protecting against cyber attacks can be easier. In order to access your data, hackers will physically need to enter your premises.

However, you may have computers that are connected to both the on-site server and the internet, and therein lies a way to access the servers remotely, as well. So diligence must be applied in keeping hosted solutions safe.

Cloud-based LMS solutions often invest heavily into security measures, to keep your data safe and avoid costly data breaches or hacks. So while an on-site server can offer better security, it really depends on a couple of factors.

Choose a secure, trusted cloud-based LMS provider and you’ll have the same or even better security than an on-site server.

6. Integrations

A hosted LMS often requires a massive effort to connect to other third-party services. Custom coding may be the only way and could present another hefty investment. Manually managing data between systems can consume plenty of hours and may even require additional staff just for this function.

Cloud-based LMS often enjoy built-in integrations so that they can integrate seamlessly with your other software, thereby allowing a lean and efficient tech stack to keep learning materials well-organised.

7. Reliability

When your on-site server goes down, it’s up to the IT team to get it running again. Should that fail, your only choice is to dispatch specialists from the company who installed your server or LMS, and pay more call-out fees while facing longer downtimes.

Cloud LMS rarely go down, and all data is backed up securely on the cloud. So that when the worst happens, your data will be safe and services will more than likely be reinstated within a couple of hours.

This makes cloud-based LMS more reliable than hosted servers, in general.

The Cloud-Based LMS Role in Future Learning

Young workers use VR glasses with cloud based LMSAs we continue the relentless march towards a remote-first world, hosted LMS solutions may soon become entirely redundant. Remote employees can access a cloud-based LMS from anywhere, and engage in company-approved online courses at all hours. This makes time zones less of a concern and offers your global staff a sound way to build their skills.

Many cloud-based LMS are also adopting AI into their systems, offering a more effective and time-efficient way to create, track, and manage learning. From these perspectives, the future of learning seems heavily skewed towards cloud-based learning management.

Choosing the Right Cloud-Based LMS

Making a decision between cloud-based and hosted LMS for your business may seem easy at first. But there are a few final considerations to take into account.

  • Security: If you’re in a highly confidential industry where cyber theft is a real and constant possibility, an unconnected and highly secured on-site hosted LMS may be the better option. This will require a significant investment, but if your data is of such a highly confidential nature, that investment will pale in comparison to potential losses from an unlikely breach.
  • Customisability: Cloud-based LMS providers work very hard to create a highly customisable solution. That said, a bespoke hosted LMS will always be more customisable. It will require far more effort and financial investment to make the changes, but it is a consideration.

Apart from those two facts, it’s obvious that the benefits of a cloud-based LMS far outweigh its hosted counterpart for most businesses seeking employee training solutions.

If you’re in the market for a cloud-based LMS consider giving Cloud Assess a try. It’s a powerful solution with a heavy emphasis on customisability and flexibility, with fully branded custom options among its many offerings. Sign up for a free trial to get started.

Focus On Sustainability

Considering initial setup costs and maintenance costs, it’s clear that cloud-based LMS solutions offer huge potential cost savings when compared to a hosted LMS. Work out which option would offer better sustainability for your business.

Consider the future as well. Which type of LMS is more likely to be in the long term? If you’re sold on the idea of cloud-based LMS, check out our list of digital learning platforms for more.

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