Comparing Self-Hosted vs. Cloud CRM: Key Differences

March 17, 2024 crm

When it comes to managing customer relationships, businesses have a crucial decision to make: should they go for a self-hosted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or a cloud-based one? This choice can significantly impact how they interact with customers, manage data, and grow their business. Let's break down the differences, advantages, and considerations of each option, keeping things simple.

What's the Difference?

Self-Hosted CRM is like having your own garden. You decide where to plant it, how big it will be, and you're responsible for its maintenance. In technical terms, this means the CRM software is installed on your company's servers. You control the software, the data, and handle all the updates and security.

Cloud-Based CRM, on the other hand, is like renting a plot in a community garden. The service provider takes care of the land, water, and tools. You just show up and plant your seeds. This means the CRM software is hosted on the provider's servers and accessed via the internet. The provider manages the technical side, including maintenance, updates, and security.

Pros and Cons

Self-Hosted CRM


  • Control: You have complete control over your data and the system. This includes deciding who has access to the CRM and how it's used within your organization.
  • Customization: It can be highly customized to fit your business processes. Whether you need specific features or workflows, a self-hosted CRM can be tailored to meet these requirements.
  • One-Time Costs: Often involves a one-time purchase price, which might save money long-term, especially for businesses with a large number of users.
  • Enhanced Security: By installing the CRM locally on your company's computers or network, you can significantly increase the security of your data. This setup allows access to the CRM only through your own network, making it harder for unauthorized users to gain access. For companies that handle sensitive information or operate in industries with strict data protection regulations, this level of security control is invaluable. Ensuring that your customer data is accessible only within your secure network adds an extra layer of protection against external threats.


  • Maintenance: Your IT team is responsible for maintaining and updating the system.
  • Upfront Investment: Requires an initial investment in hardware and software.
  • Complexity: Might be more complex to set up and manage, especially without a dedicated IT team.

Are you interested in more benefits? Check out our detailed exploration in "6 Reasons to Use Self-Hosted CRM", which dives deeper into why a self-hosted CRM could be the key to enhancing your business's efficiency and customer relationship management.

Cloud-Based CRM


  • Ease of Use: Generally easier to set up and start using with minimal technical requirements.
  • Scalability: Easily scales with your business, allowing you to add more users or features as needed.
  • Updates and Maintenance: The provider handles updates and maintenance, ensuring the system is always up to date.


  • Ongoing Costs: Typically involves a subscription fee, which can add up over time.
  • Less Control: Your data is stored on someone else's servers, giving you less control over it.
  • Customization Limits: There might be limitations on how much you can customize the software to fit your specific needs.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing

Data Security and Privacy: Understand where and how your data is stored, who has access to it, and what security measures are in place to protect it.

Cost: Consider both the initial and ongoing costs of each option. While self-hosted CRMs might have a higher upfront cost, cloud-based solutions can become more expensive over time with subscription fees.

Business Needs and Size: Small businesses or startups might benefit from the simplicity and scalability of cloud-based CRMs. In contrast, large enterprises with complex processes and a need for customization might prefer self-hosted solutions.

IT Capabilities: Evaluate your IT team's ability to install, manage, and maintain a self-hosted CRM. If your team is small or not very tech-savvy, a cloud-based option might be more practical.

Integration with Other Tools: Consider how well the CRM will integrate with your existing tools and systems. This can affect your workflow and the efficiency of your operations.

Future Growth: Think about where your business is heading. Choose a CRM that can grow with you, whether that means scaling up easily or allowing for extensive customization.

The Growing Importance of CRM Systems: A Look at the Numbers

The adoption of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems has seen significant growth over the years, a testament to their crucial role in enhancing customer interactions and business operations. Whether businesses choose self-hosted or cloud-based CRM solutions, the numbers speak volumes about their value:

  • Market Size and Growth: According to a report by Gartner, the global CRM software market grew by 12.5% in 2020, reaching a value of $69.3 billion. This growth underscores the increasing reliance on CRM systems across various industries.
  • Cloud vs. Self-Hosted Adoption: As of 2022, cloud-based CRM solutions accounted for more than 75% of CRM sales, indicating a strong shift towards cloud services. This trend is driven by the cloud's scalability, ease of use, and lower upfront costs. However, self-hosted CRMs continue to be the preferred choice for organizations that prioritize data control and security, particularly in sectors like finance and healthcare.
  • Impact on Businesses: A survey by Salesforce indicated that CRM applications can boost sales by up to 29%, sales productivity by up to 34%, and accuracy of sales forecasting by 42%. These figures highlight the substantial impact that effectively implemented CRM systems can have on a company's bottom line.
  • Future Trends: Research by Markets and Markets projects that the CRM market will grow to over $80 billion by 2025, reflecting the ongoing innovation and expansion of CRM capabilities. This growth is expected to be driven by advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and integration with other business systems.

These statistics illustrate the critical role that CRM systems play in today's business landscape, whether through cloud-based solutions that offer ease and scalability or through self-hosted platforms that provide control and security.

For the most current statistics and trends, please consult the latest reports from reputable sources such as Gartner, Forrester, or IDC.

Making the Decision

There's no one-size-fits-all answer when choosing between self-hosted and cloud-based CRMs. It depends on your business needs, budget, IT capabilities, and future goals. Consider starting with a list of your must-have features, your non-negotiables regarding data security, and your budget. From there, you can explore specific CRM options within each category.

Remember, the goal of your company using a CRM is to help you manage customer relationships more effectively. Whether you choose a self-hosted or cloud-based CRM, ensure it aligns with your business processes, enhances your customer interactions, and ultimately helps your business grow.


Choosing the right CRM system is a pivotal decision for any business. By understanding the differences between self-hosted and cloud-based CRMs, along with their pros and cons, you can make an informed choice that best suits your company's needs. Remember, the best CRM is the one that fits seamlessly into your operations, supports your growth, and helps you build stronger relationships with your customers.