Cloud Geocoding APIs vs On-Premise Pros and Cons

On-premise geocoding used to be the clear choice. With new technology, some cloud geocoders are surpassing local installs for speed, security, and price.
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June 3, 2022
by Davin Perkins

Cloud Geocoding APIs vs On-Premise Pros and Cons tile art with hand holding cloud image

On-premise vs. the cloud is a constant debate when it comes to software purchases. Geocoding software is no different. How your geocoding solution is deployed can greatly impact both the performance and the cost.

In our eBook, 8 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Geocoding API, we talk about the pros and cons of on-premise and cloud-based geocoding options, as well as other key features to consider.

In this article, we’ll summarize why on-premise versus cloud-based matters, and touch on another deciding factor for your API purchase: third-party basemaps.

On-Premise & Cloud-Based Geocoding Options

On-Premise Geocoding

On-premise geocoding is geocoding without calling cloud-based web services on the internet. Everything takes place on your servers, behind your firewall.

Pros of On-Premise:

  • May have higher speed potential.
  • Good for companies or industries that have strict data compliance policies.
  • Beneficial if a transaction-based business model doesn’t work for your organization.

Cons of On-Premise:

  • Your company is responsible for installation and network and server maintenance.
  • Usually requires an annual license fee, plus implementation costs.

Cloud-Based Geocoding

Cloud-based geocoding is geocoding through a web-based software service, commonly known as “software as a service” or SaaS.

Pros of Cloud-Based:

  • Easy to scale up or down based on business needs.
  • Cloud based geocoders can achieve the same or better capacity and speed than on-premise solutions.
  • The performance, server and network responsibilities rest with the provider—you aren’t responsible for updates or security.

Cons of Cloud-Based:

  • You have less control over setup and security.
  • If your internet connection fails, you can’t get any work done.

Questions to Ask About On-Premise Versus Cloud Geocoding

  • Do our internal privacy, security, data, or other policies require the extra complexity of an on-premise solution?
  • (If on-premise) - What are the time and technical requirements for initial setup?
  • (If on-premise) - What are the ongoing costs, time, and technical requirements for maintenance, security, updates, and licensing?

Download '8 Questions to Ask When Selecting A Geocoding API' Now.

Your organization’s needs, privacy rules, and technical knowledge will all factor into your decision of on-premise versus cloud-based. Once you’ve chosen your deployment method, you can narrow down your list of potential providers and start to consider other features, like compatibility with third-party basemaps.

Is Use With Third-Party Basemaps Permitted?

Geocoding allows you to transform your information databases into easy-to-understand visual maps. Displaying complex data on a map can be an effective and compelling way to present your company’s data, whether that information is where the highest concentration of your target customer resides, your factory locations, floodplains or high fire risk areas, or other subjects.

However, even if your provider allows you to store geocodes (not all do!), that doesn’t mean the terms of service also allow you to display them on third-party maps.

If you’re allowed to store geocodes, you should also ask if the provider allows you to display their geocodes on another mapping or GIS platform such as ArcGIS, QGIS, BatchGeo, or OpenStreetMaps.

The most well-known map provider, Google, does not allow use with third-party mapping platforms. If you’re going to display a geocode from Google on a map, you must display them on a Google Map—end of story!

However, other geocoding providers like Esri and Smarty do play nice with third-party mapping platforms. This opens up a world of possibilities for you.

For example, a Smarty client, the American Red Cross, uploaded addresses in bulk for verification and then used the latitude/longitude information to geocode and create accurate maps of home fire risk and predictive models based on the maps.

Questions to Ask About Use With Third-Party Basemaps

  • Would my business data be easier to read or benefit from being displayed on a map?
  • Do the terms of service allow for geocodes to be used in conjunction with third-party maps?

To learn more about on-premise versus cloud, third-party basemaps, and other factors in choosing a geocoding provider, download the full eBook, “8 Questions to Ask When Selecting A Geocoding API” today!

Download '8 Questions to Ask When Selecting A Geocoding API' Now.

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