Bespoke vs Off-the-shelf Cloud Solutions

Successful Business Management

Decided to migrate your IT network infrastructure to the cloud? You’re not alone as this option is increasingly popular among large and SME businesses. If you are still thinking about the move and weighing up what is best for you, it’s worth considering if an off the shelf cloud solution is better than a customised design built with your specific business in mind.

It may seem tempting to go for the simplest option and take something that already exists off the shelf.

In some cases this may be acceptable and work perfectly fine, there are though, lots of things to consider before making your decision to get the right solution for your business.

What support is available?

The level of support provided is vital in ensuring you minimise downtime, maximise efficiency and productivity and get all the benefits of moving to the cloud in the first place.

Even on up-to-date cloud systems, there can still be occasional problems that need support to be fixed as quickly as possible.

Recovery times are always important for businesses and can be critical depending on the industry and customer expectations. 

You need to ask questions on whether backup options are sufficient and fast enough to make recovery easy should systems go down. 

Most bespoke cloud solutions are assigned an account manager who will know your system well and can advise on specific issues as they arise.

In many cases this can result in a quicker solution to problems and more personal and responsive support services.

Data Security and Protection

Data protection is more important than ever with laws such as GDPR and new privacy laws in the USA such as the rules recently brought in to California, with the CCPA. 

Meeting these standards of privacy is key to retaining a good reputation and relationships with your customers. It is also a legal requirement and failure to meet these rules can have significant consequences with large financial fines and other legal action taken against those who fail to comply.

The problem with privacy here is that off-the-shelf cloud services generally use shared servers for multiple businesses which can leave data more exposed. Your data can be more vulnerable in this kind of setup when compared to a private and bespoke cloud server arrangement.

It’s also important that the provider understands your data volume requirements, and your data handling needs. 

Capacity and service impact

You should consider how critical speed is to your business because there is a difference between custom solutions and shared off the shelf cloud solutions.

Generic shared servers often share their bandwidth, which can reduce the speed of operation and backing up data.  If multiple companies are using bandwidth at the same time this could have a measurable impact on performance. This slow down in service can generally be avoided with a bespoke solution which will likely offer greater business productivity. 

Why one size doesn’t always fit all

The one size fits all approach to software can often become problematic when extending beyond basic business operations – and when trying to offer something different to your competitors.

Differentiation is increasingly important and is playing a major influence in levels of success. Nearly all companies are trying to offer differentiated products to stand out and win more market share.

This becomes more difficult when everyone is using the same off the shelf cloud technology solutions, and especially so if these solutions are linked to your core product. When this is the case a distinct competitive advantage needs to be found elsewhere such as in the ability of employees in the company, in after-sales service, price or quality.

The big issue with choosing an off the shelf option for cloud services comes down to whether it can actually deliver all the features and capabilities that a business actually wants and needs in order to succeed.

When this is not the case and a business has to start altering its business operations to suit the vanilla cloud software package. This cannot deliver the scalability required to support business growth.

If a company decides to do the opposite and not change their business to fit the solution and instead buys an off-the-shelf package and then decides to tailor it, the value of buying an off-the-shelf application is quickly lost and the benefits of speed to market, and cost savings are instead used up in adapting and tailoring the of the shelf solution to fit them.  In this case, they have essentially ended up with a bespoke cloud solution after all but they have now got ongoing license fees and upgrade costs to keep their customisation working. The result is often a solution that is not future proof and requires a compromise in functionality in the first place.


The most common reason why a company would choose an off the shelf cloud solution over a bespoke cloud solution is down to cost.

Off the shelf, solutions are deemed to be lower cost and they can be in some cases. It is worth running a cost of ownership evaluation over 3 – 5 years and comparing how bespoke measures against off the shelf. Often it is surprising.

Whilst the bespoke development investment is loaded towards the beginning of the cycle, there are no ongoing licensing costs to consider and this can balance then final figures out over the longer term.

Another thing to consider is that for growing businesses the cost of off the shelf cloud services are not static. They are charged by the user and as new employees join the cost goes up and additional licenses are required.

Ultimately, the majority of off the shelf deployments still work, but most organisations can benefit from their own cloud software with unique functionality and features that help them stand out against competitors.

Computers in the City, your IT partner

Computers in the City is London’s longest-standing IT support partner. With over 20 years’ experience, we can assist you to meet your IT support, consulting and cloud computing needs. We’re proud to be local, offering 24-hour support in straightforward language that takes the stress out of IT support.