This is an updated version of an article written by our own Lee Atchison and which originally appeared on Diginomica.

It’s past time to debunk an idea that’s somehow still kicking around in application performance monitoring circles. Put simply, just because you have an on-premises technology environment does not mean you need an on-premises monitoring solution. In fact, an on-premises monitoring solution has many disadvantages, even when dealing with purely on-premises environments.

Almost all companies still relying on on-premises environments also leverage the cloud in conjunction with their private data centers. So, as the lines between on-premises and the cloud continue to blur, the distinction between them becomes increasingly meaningless.

More to the point, perhaps, while forward-looking organizations understand that on-premises monitoring lacks the scalability, flexibility, and rapid innovation needed to deal with modern software environments, they may not yet realize that SaaS-based monitoring is also better at dealing with on-premises infrastructure.

SaaS should be a no-brainer

Even though industry analysts explicitly acknowledge the rapid growth and acceptance of SaaS-based monitoring solutions, they still suggest that vendors offering both on-premises and SaaS are better positioned in the market due to this capability. That might make sense if companies needed an on-premises monitoring solution to track their on-premises or hybrid environments, but of course they absolutely don’t.

There are four key reasons why pure multi-tenant SaaS monitoring makes sense for the modern digital native era, whether your environment is on-premises, hybrid, or in the cloud:

  1. Cost: SaaS-based APM offers a much lower total cost of ownership, especially when you consider the opportunity cost of engineering time sunk into installing, maintaining, and upgrading on-premises monitoring solutions.
  2. Scale: On-premises solutions simply can’t effectively scale and maintain monitoring to cope with an organization’s biggest, most important days, especially in auto-scaling and ephemeral cloud environments. With on-premises solutions, ensuring you have sufficient monitoring capacity for your biggest days means supporting excess capacity during non-peak times, wasting money.
  3. Faster to visibility: SaaS-based monitoring can get you up and running in your monitoring solution faster than on-premises monitoring solutions can. You can deploy a SaaS offering in a matter of hours or minutes instead of the weeks or even months it takes to set up an on-premises monitoring solution.
  4. Faster updates: SaaS-based monitoring can deliver new features and functionality to you quicker than an on-premises solution can. When a new feature or capability is available, you can get instant access to it in a SaaS-based environment. On-premises monitoring solutions often require a long upgrade cycle to get the new capabilities added to your system.

Notably, these benefits of SaaS-based monitoring solutions hold true when monitoring on-premises application environments as well as cloud and hybrid environments.

That’s why, if you look closely, you’ll notice that many vendors that once embraced on-premises monitoring solutions are now actively working to deprecate their on-premises solutions and migrate their customers toward their newer online products. They’re pushing their newly-hatched SaaS solutions because they recognize that it’s a superior delivery model.

Critically, however, the full benefits of SaaS-based monitoring are available only via true, full-fledged, multi-tenant SaaS approaches. The offerings of some legacy APM vendor systems are single-tenant SaaS and face many of the same disadvantages as do on-premises solutions.

No reason not to go SaaS

Historically, typical objections to SaaS-based APM have centered around security issues like data residency and security, but such concerns are fading as confidence in SaaS grows.

Clearly, the SaaS model is more than capable of delivering huge benefits to large on-premises architectures as well as to modern cloud-based environments.

So maybe it’s time to stop clinging to outmoded ideas of what SaaS-based monitoring can and can’t do.

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Lee Atchison is the Senior Director, Cloud Architecture at New Relic. For the last eight years he has helped design and build a solid service-based product architecture that scaled from startup to high traffic public enterprise. Lee has 32 years of industry experience, including seven years as a Senior Manager at, and has consulted with leading organizations on how to modernize their application architectures and transform their organizations at scale. He is the author of the O’Reilly book Architecting for Scale and author of the blog Lee@Scale. View posts by .

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