What is a cloud-based (SaaS) learning management system? Definition explained

Okay, you’ve made the decision. You want to introduce a Learning Management System for your organization. However, the next question is whether it should be a cloud-based 'SaaS' or a hosted learning management system. There are significant differences between the two, and choosing one over the other has several implications for your organization. Be wise, buy wisely 😀.

Cloud based SAAS LMS
Content Manager & HR Officer
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Table of contents

  1. What is a cloud-based learning management system
  2. What is a hosted learning management system?
  3. What are the benefits of a cloud-based lms?
  4. So, what's next?

What is a cloud-based learning management system?

In this case, the cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. Simply put, cloud-based means that your learning management system is not hosted on your local server (i.e., a physical computer’s hard drive), but on an Internet server instead.

Saas LMS

SaaS is the abbreviation of software as a service

Cloud solutions are available in multiple service models, but the most common one is SaaS. SaaS is the abbreviation of software as a service [1]. In this case, your web browser is the entrance gate of your LMS. Just enter the URL in the address bar and fill in your credentials to log in. You don’t require to install specific hardware or software in order to access and use it. The LMS is a supplier who is responsible for hosting and updating the product. SaaS applications come with a subscription model. So the only thing you have to do is pay and use the web version of the LMS 😊.

What is a hosted learning management system?

A hosted LMS is stored and runs on servers within an organization’s network. So, your organization is fully responsible for its management and oversight. For instance, they have to decide which hosting capacities are needed, install the required security updates on the server, and facilitate upscaling, if necessary.

What are the benefits of a cloud-based ‘SaaS’ LMS?

Compared to hosted LMS, we think a cloud-based, ‘SaaS’ LMS is always a better option. Let the benefits [2] speak for themselves:

Lower cost

The initial expenses are low. Most SaaS LMSs offer a trial subscription for you to test whether it is the solution to your use case. If so, you can purchase a monthly or yearly subscription. Most LMSs have affordable prices and therefore are a good option for small- and medium-sized businesses.
The monthly or annual fee is your only expense, as the implementation costs are low. The cost of a hosted LMS is tenfold.

Let’s make a list of all the costs you save with SaaS:

  • You don’t need to buy software to run the application on your server.
  • You don’t need to purchase extra hosting capacity.
  • It eliminates the need to spend time or human resources on installing programs, troubleshooting glitches, or installing software throughout the organization.
  • You won’t need on-site technical expertise to manage it on an ongoing basis.

We don’t have to do the math to show that pricing is a huge advantage when it comes to SaaS LMSs.

Easy implementation & maintenance

And by easy, we actually mean no implementation and maintenance. A SaaS LMS regularly has its development department attend to bugs, new features, and system updates. As long as you pay, you don’t have to worry about these operational issues. It is the opposite of organizations that host an LMS on their server. So, save time and money and let your IT department - especially for SMBs - focus on different technical issues.

An LMS in the cloud means that it can be accessed by trainers and employees anytime, anywhere

Anytime, anywhere

The hosted version is only accessible on your organization’s network. An LMS in the cloud means that it can be accessed by trainers and employees anytime, anywhere. Their only limitation is that a working internet connection must be available. So, maybe it is not the best idea to take a course in the jungle of Papua New Guinea, but for the rest, you are good to go 😎.

Fully customizable and scalable

It’s a myth that only hosted LMSs are fully customizable. Cloud-based, ‘SaaS’ LMSs offer multiple options to match with your corporate identity. Sometimes it is sufficient to have basic styling options like changing colors, fonts, and logos. But they also offer custom CSS and complete white labeling.

Better information security

Cloud-based LMSs make great efforts to comply with GPDR

What is certain is that an LMS contains sensitive information such as all collected training materials and employee data. Your organization may prefer to store all its data on its servers, but cloud-based LMSs make great efforts to comply with GPDR standards. They use various methods to ensure the security and privacy of their user-base and database. These methods, which vary depending on the LMS platform, are always explained in their privacy statement. It’s good practice to read this before purchasing.

More storage space

When you work in the cloud, you no longer need to store all your training materials - including the videos, images, and PowerPoint presentations - on your computer anymore. You place it directly into your LMS. It saves a large amount of storage space. Another advantage is that you don’t have to worry about information being lost due to corrupted hard drives or permanently deleted computer files.

So, what’s next?

If you are looking for an LMS, we recommend a cloud-based SaaS LMS due to the mentioned advantages. Of course, it is a bit like preaching to the choir, because Easy LMS is a SaaS platform. Easy LMS checks all the named advantages. We have a fair pricing model that meets the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses. Our product is always in flux. We improve our product with new features and tools and make sure they are in your workflow, without taking your time and effort. Also, security is our middle name, read our privacy statement 😎.

In all honesty, always write down your specific needs, target audience, goals before you make a decision. Check if these advantages meet your goals and then decide. Maybe a hosted platform works better for you or maybe a cloud-based one 😃.

Useful resources 

  1. Wikipedia
  2. ResearchGate

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a cloud-based LMS?
    A cloud-based Learning Management System is hosted on an online server (not on your local server), making it accessible from anywhere and at any time.  With the correct URL and login credentials, you’re good to go. 
  • What is a hosted LMS?
    A hosted learning management system means that it is stored on your organization’s servers.
  • What are the benefits of a cloud-based LMS?
    The benefits of a cloud-based LMS include low cost, low maintenance, accessibility, adaptability, more storage space, and a good data security infrastructure.

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