Like a mob of angry villagers, flaming torches and pitchforks in hand, senior executives at enterprises around the world are gathering at the gates of legacy on-premise software providers.

What does the mob want? To be relieved of its unholy, stitched-together, Frankenstein monster of an enterprise performance management solution. A solution that at best has become difficult to expand and expensive to keep, and at worst has become flat-out unmanageable.

Fixing the on-premise monster recently came to mind after a Tidemark employee at a company all-hands asked what the largest enterprise performance management vendors were doing to move their premise-based legacy platforms to the cloud. It got me thinking of the years I spent installing and customizing just that kind of beast.

The approach was pretty universal: Every company would acquire expensive enterprise licenses of their solution, assemble a team of expensive consultants, and then assign a large cross-functional team of employees to adapt, extend, customize and triage a very custom solution. As a direct result of crafting data warehouses based on the company’s then-current structure (products, organization, business objectives), these huge enterprise software deployments ultimately failed well more than a third of the time. When they did succeed, all those customizations and integrations made upgrading to any new release of the software a waking nightmare.

Many companies, exhausted and out of ideas, merely settled for the aging, limited, stitched-together monstrosity of a solution they had built to deal with the Y2K scare.

A New Kind of Monster

Now when the same providers of those large enterprise solutions proclaim that they have a new cloud-based offering, it does not take long to figure out the problem: It’s still the same monster, with all the same holes that each customer had to invest so much in to work around when the solution was premise-based.

Even worse, customers would still have to make the same great investment to achieve the same limited solutions in the cloud that they currently use on-premise (that is, assuming those work-arounds are possible with the new cloud-based version). So they end up with a new kind of creature that leaves them with all the same limitations – and with lots of new expenses.  That’s a tough sell in today’s cost-conscious world.

Be Not Afraid

By contrast, multi-tenant designs are built from the start to serve many different customers through flexible configuration and deployment. For instance, built-for-cloud solutions for headcount planning and asset management are explicitly designed to work for every customer, rather than recommending lots of custom fields and custom math calculations. And when new releases come out, new functionality and capabilities go to every customer, with no need for re-implementation. And all customers benefit from the suggestions and enhancements requested by other users.

While disruption is hard to quantify, it starts with including business owners and decision makers in the planning process and requires tools that are easy to use and widely available throughout the business. Our cloud enterprise performance management solution, available via a mobile client, provides exactly that kind of disruption to companies looking to put knowledge in the hands of their business users. This is possible only because we started the company to build our products precisely in this way. An on-premises wolf in a hosted wolf’s clothing does not a “cloud” solution make. Multi-tenant cloud solutions are built that way from the beginning, not bolted onto older technologies. At Tidemark, we invest a lot of energy into understanding what our customers need to do and where their existing solutions are keeping them from doing it.  We take that insight and build it into applications that solve customer problems in a new and disruptive way.

So while many companies will continue to announce their newly found conviction that cloud computing is the way of the future, ASP-model hosting certainly is not. The proof is how it all works together, not the simple test of whether it comes to you via a web browser. The big players in our space may see hosting as a path forward, but it is an expensive and incomplete path.

It merely adds lipstick to the same old monster, and results in the same old nightmares.