Qlik Sense: SaaS or On-Premise?

A comparison between the two versions.

Qlik Sense is a powerful data analysis and visualisation tool that helps organisations gain valuable insights into their data. If you want to implement Qlik Sense, an important decision is whether to use the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version or the on-premise version. In this blog article, our aim is to compare the two versions and help you make the right choice to suit your needs.


The general differences between Qlik Sense SaaS and Qlik Sense On-Premise

Both versions of Qlik Sense differ in some important details, which we will discuss in more detail later. First, let's look at the basic differences between the SaaS and on-premise versions.

​Installation and infrastructure

One of the main differences between Qlik Sense SaaS and the on-premise version lies in deployment and infrastructure. With Qlik Sense SaaS, the software is hosted and managed in the cloud by Qlik, freeing businesses from the burden of infrastructure maintenance. It offers quick and hassle-free setup, automatic updates and scalability. 

The on-premise version, however, requires companies to set up and operate their own infrastructure, which on the one hand allows for better control, but on the other hand also requires dedicated resources and IT expertise.

Costs and financial flexibility

Costs considerations play an important role in the decision-making process. Both Qlik Sense versions are based on a subscription model, where companies pay an annual fee based on the number of users and the features selected. This model offers greater financial flexibility by eliminating the upfront investment in hardware and infrastructure. 

Based on the on-premise version, on the other hand, there is a higher initial investment for hardware and ongoing maintenance costs for the hardware, and also for the software itself, as updates have to be applied manually by the customer or a consultant. For companies with specific compliance or data security requirements, however, it can be a more cost-effective option in the long run. Also, connecting to Qlik Qlik NPrinting is only possible with the on-premise version.

​Scalability and accessibility

When deciding between Qlik Sense SaaS and the on-premise version, scalability and availability are key factors. Qlik Sense SaaS offers inherent scalability as it can easily handle increasing data volumes and user demands. It scales up or down quickly as needed, making it ideal for organisations with fluctuating workloads or rapid growth. 

With on-premise, companies need to anticipate their future needs and invest in hardware accordingly. While it offers direct control over data storage and access, scaling may require additional infrastructure investment.

Data security and compliance

The topics of data security and compliance are of paramount importance to organisations when selecting a data analytics solution. Qlik Sense SaaS offers robust data security measures, including data encryption, access controls and regular security updates managed by Qlik. 

However, some companies have specific compliance requirements and/or data sovereignty concerns that require them to keep data on-premise. The on-premise version provides direct control over data security and enables companies to meet their specific compliance regulations.However, some companies have specific compliance requirements and/or data sovereignty concerns that require them to keep data on-premise. The on-premise version provides direct control over data security and enables companies to meet their specific compliance regulations.

There are currently two data centres offered for hosting the Qlik SaaS Cloud: US or Ireland. However, an additional location in Germany is planned for the second half of 2023.


Maintenance and updates

​Another aspect to consider is the ongoing maintenance and upgrades required for Qlik Sense. In Qlik Sense SaaS version, updates and patches are automatically applied by Qlik to ensure that companies have access to the latest features and security enhancements without any additional effort. 

On-premise implementations, on the other hand, require companies to take care of upgrades and maintenance themselves. While this offers more control over the upgrade process, it requires internal IT resources and expertise.

We support our customers with both regular updates and problems in the infrastructure.


The differences between the two software versions of Qlik Sense SaaS and On-Premise

Let's now take a closer look at the most important differences between the two software versions - there are some details you should know.

Both versions are very similar, but have significant differences - for example, in the Management Console.

Functionalities

One of the biggest differences between both versions is the number of features. New features usually arrive first in the SaaS version and only a while later in the on-premise version.

An increasing trend is that new features are only made available in the SaaS version. There are many comments from on-premise users in the forums, who repeatedly emphasise that Qlik should not forget the on-premise users.

Some functionalities, such as Qlik Alerting, have to be licensed additionally for the on-premise version, whereas they are included in the SaaS version at no additional cost.

So it's not just a few small features more in the SaaS version, the difference is significant - and growing.

Licence fees

Qlik Sense licences are user-based - this means that only the number of Qlik Sense users are licensed, nothing else. With this, Qlik offers a very fair licensing model with no hidden costs. For example, if a company has 100 Qlik Sense users, only they need to have a licence. The Qlik Sense servers, the used hardware or the data volumes are not licensed.

​In the SaaS Cloud, the hardware is automatically scaled by Qlik, but for the on-premise version this means: It doesn't matter whether one Qlik Sense server is used or 100 - the servers are not licensed.

In principle, licences can only be purchased as subscriptions; the former perpetual licences (i.e. licences that are purchased) no longer exist. The term subscription means that licences are rented, whereby a subscription period always covers 12 months. However, a subscription can also be purchased for 3 years, which protects against possible increases in price.

Please contact us for exact licence prices.


Test and Development Server

Currently there is no test or development environment available within the Qlik Sense SaaS version. However, a Qlik Sense Dev and Test Server can be installed as part of the on-premise version.

You can of course simulate a test environment in the SaaS instance, for example with a separate space - but it is not a solution in the classic sense.


Joint development and supervision of apps

This is where both versions also differ, since the management of apps, i.e. the management consoles of both versions, are different. 

In the SaaS version, several users can develop simultaneously on an app and also maintain it collaboratively in a so-called "shared space". Important if the developer is absent or on holiday.

In the on-premise version, things are different: Here, an app is assigned to exactly one owner. This can lead to problems if the owner of the app is not available or the apps are to be managed by more than one developer at the same time. Unfortunately, we don't know about any plans from Qlik to change this in the foreseeable future.

Qlik Sense in combination with NPrinting

Qlik NPrinting is a reporting extension for Qlik Sense (and QlikView). It allows static reports to be created in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, PixelPerfect and PDF formats, with data loaded exclusively from Qlik Sense or QlikView. These reports can then be automatically distributed by email, stored in file folders, or made available online in the NPrinting NewsStand.

​Important to know: NPrinting only works in combination with the Qlik Sense on-premise version. Thus, in this combination (Qlik Sense & NPrinting) the option of the SaaS is omitted.

App Size

On the SaaS option, a Qlik Sense app must not have more than 5GB of RAM. On the on-prem server, you can decide yourself how much RAM you want on your Qlik Sense server.

​In the SaaS version ​additional storage space can be purchased for larger apps, but this is anything but cheap.

We specialise in Qlik Sense and can alternatively help you reduce the size of the app with optimisations to the data model and interface.


Source data

This brings us to one of the most important points when it comes to data analysis: the source data, or the systems from which the data for your analysis originate. Especially if your company operates in Europe, it is an important question where exactly the data is stored.

On-Prem gives you absolute authority over your data; after all, it is your server.

If you use the SaaS version of Qlik Sense, you have to upload your data to the Qlik SaaS Cloud. This is currently geographically located in the US or in Ireland - at least Europe.

Qlik delivers a very high level of security - feel free to check out the Qlik page: Trust and Security at Qlik.

For some, however, Europe may not be enough - but there is at least the anticipation of the new data centre in Germany, which is planned for the end of 2023.

Nevertheless, this point is important, because the data has to find its way into your Qlik Sense app somehow. A connection from the SaaS cloud to your local company servers will be difficult, as your IT will only approve this under very strict conditions (or not at all).

What I can recommend at this point: Generally, move your data to the cloud, e.g. to Microsoft AzureAWS (Amazon Web Services) - you can host your databases and/or DWH's there. We can support you with this - many of our SaaS customers do the same.

The Qlik SaaS Cloud is hosted on AWS. For example, if you have a DWH or database on AWS and use the AWS data transfer tools , your data will only be copied from one AWS server (with, for example, your DWH) to another AWS server (with your Qlik Sense SaaS instance).

Of course, your data can also be stored on Azure (or a completely different platform). Azure too offers solid tools for data transfer.

You only need to consider data transfer if your source data systems are local and not in the cloud. If your DWH is a Snowflake , for example, then your data is already in the cloud. Besides Snowflake, there are of course many other cloud-based DWH's.

Your CRM or ERP may also already be hosted in the cloud, in which case your data is already in the cloud and can be loaded from Qlik Sense (SaaS and on-prem) directly with the Qlik REST Connector via an API interface.

Qlik Sense includes a lot of Web Connectors (SaaS and On-Prem) that can connect to your on-premises systems as well as to cloud systems.

So if your data is already in the cloud, you don't need to worry about this issue. Only if your data is stored locally then loading your data from the SaaS cloud could be a problem - so you should plan ahead.

If you have any questions about "data in the cloud or on-prem": Feel free to contact me, we are experts in cloud computing and we can help you plan and implement the right data strategy. 


Conclusion

Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the end it is your decision which version is best for your company.

Let's take a look again at the most important criteria for making the right decision:

  • Hardware and maintenance
    • Qlik's SaaS edition is easy to set up and managed by Qlik. You don't need any hardware, no technical team and updates are automatically applied.
    • For the on-prem version, server hardware is required and must be installed and maintained by the customer. All updates have to be installed manually.
  • Licensing costs: They are the same for both versions. However, the SaaS version includes a lot more features and capabilities, including functionalities (such as Qlik Alerting) that need additional licensing for an on-prem version.
  • Hosting: The Qlik SaaS Cloud is currently hosted in the US and Ireland (you can choose one of these two data centres when setting up your system). However, another data centre is planned in Germany, making the SaaS Cloud much more attractive for many German customers.
  • Test- and Development Site: If you want to install an independent Test Server and a Development Server alongside your Qlik Sense Prod Server, this can only be done in the on-prem version. The SaaS version is not currently supporting this.
  • Max. app size: If you have very large amounts of data and complex interfaces, the maximum allowed RAM memory of 5GB per app in the SaaS version can become a problem. Additional memory is very expensive. In the on-prem version, you could easily increase the RAM on your Qlik Sense server for a fraction of the SaaS cost for additional RAM.
  • Collaboration: The joint development and support of apps is much better solved in the SaaS version and will not be available in the on-prem version in the near future. If this is important to you, you should have a close look at both versions beforehand and check whether the on-prem version is sufficient for you. A small point compared to the complexity of Qlik Sense, but still worth mentioning.

It is best to take a close look at both versions and get advice from experts who know both versions well and who can show both of them to you in detail.

My personal opinion: Unless there are serious reasons, such as the use of NPrinting or the need for a test and a development server, I would recommend the SaaS version. Simply because it contains many useful features that are not available in the on-prem version or result in additional costs. Besides, you don't have to worry about hardware and updates.

If you have any questions 

please feel free to drop us a line:

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Or: You can directly book a free Online Call .

Qlik Sense: SaaS or On-Premise?
RSG Report Solution GmbH, Daniel Blank 10 July 2023
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