Businesses, resellers and accounting firms continue to debate the benefits of selling or using true cloud, hosted, and on-premises accounting and ERP systems.

Those debates came to a head during a panel discussion at the Information Technology Alliance Fall Collaborative in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. Panelists included Steve Jones from NetSuite reseller Explore Consulting, Dennis Karus from hosted services provider Software Link, and Sage North America executive Ed Kless.

Avalara’s Patrick Falle lobbed questions at the panel, ranging from cost benefits and version control to the best client sizes for each offering, and which is the most beneficial to reseller partners.

The one clear point of agreement seemed to be about choice. Currently businesses and firms want the ability to be able to choose what is best, though there was debate over which sector of vendors—cloud, hosted or on-premise—is actually offering the ability to choose one of those three options.

Kless made a strong argument that even once a choice is made, the costs of switching are often a deterrent for many businesses and firms.

“With all the benefits the cloud may offer, you still have the reality of switching costs, and right now no one wants to change ERP if they don’t have to,” said Kless.

Jones argued that reducing or eliminating high IT department costs is currently one of the big attractions of purely cloud-based systems, while Karus said for the foreseeable future the hosted model is best for all businesses, as it can grow with a business as any pure cloud offering can, without companies having to necessarily switch systems.

The strongest disagreement occurred between Jones and Kless as they gave different perspectives on going all-SaaS for a business.

”Eliminating what used to be such a bit part of your IT budget and choosing a path that does give you the opportunity to be on the latest and greatest version, that is what SaaS is about,” said Jones.

Kless, for his part, argued, “It is short-sighted to think that being on a SaaS solution is going to solve all of your problems.”

This article first appeared on the Accounting Today website

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