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Cloud LMS vs Self-Hosted LMS: Which one is right for you?

Site Online Learning | September 19, 2019 | Read Time: 4 mins

There are pros and cons to nearly everything. From apples to oranges, doughnuts to muffins… the list goes on forever. And while we were probably hungry in the writing of this blog, if you’re a business owner or a Human Resource Manager weighing up the pros and cons to the right Learning Management System (LMS) for your organisation might be at the top of your list. Depending largely on your organisation’s expectations and business goals, choosing between a cloud hosted LMS or self-hosted LMS can be a difficult decision. To help make your choice easier we have identified the top five considerations between the two LMS types. So pause, grab your favourite snack and continue reading!


The number one feature you need to consider is accessibility. The biggest advantage of a cloud hosted LMS is being able to access it using any device anywhere. As long as you have a smart device and an internet connection, the LMS should be accessible. Self-hosted LMS’s on the other hand are limited by your IT infrastructure. It can be equally accessible, but you need to ensure that you have the systems in place to manage it in-house.

Tip: Are your employees only going to be using the LMS when in the office, or are they likely to use it offsite as well? Knowing how and where the LMS is going to be used, will help you scope out your accessibility requirements.


No matter how small or big your business is, you will need to do a cost analysis of each of the two types of LMS. Below are the key considerations to account for. 

A cloud based LMS is sold as a subscription where the cost is directly related to the number of users at any single point. A self-hosted LMS on the other hand is sold as a product with a one-time (time bound) licensing fee.

With a cloud hosted LMS you do not need to host the software yourself. The vendor takes care of it. The vendor will also provide a certain degree of support as part of the subscription. With self-hosted LM’S, your business will need to set up its own IT and support infrastructure to manage the LMS. The vendor might provide support, but it is likely to be additionally charged.

Tip: Different vendors price their LMS’s differently. Speak to a few, get detailed payment information and ensure that you account for future use.   


The current and expected future size of your business should affect the type of LMS you choose. Both are usually equally scalable, but the cost of scaling can differ. Cloud hosted LMS can have any number of users. The cost simply goes up as the number of users do. With self-hosted LMS, the number of users does not affect the LMS cost. It will affect the strain on your support systems though.

When it comes to scaling down, it is much easier with cloud hosted LMS. As you pay per user, cost simply goes down. With self-hosted LMS’s it’s not that simple. Building an IT and support infrastructure is a long-term investment. Making changes to it can be expensive and difficult.   

Tip: As your business grows, so will the number of users using the LMS. Account for it when choosing between the two.

Customisation Capabilities. 

Customisation is another important factor to consider. Self-hosted LMS are highly customisable. You will be able to alter not only the look and feel of the software but also the user experience. Cloud hosted LMS on the other hand only offer limited customisability. Aesthetical changes can be made, but core systems cannot be altered in anyway.

Tip: Though the idea of complete customisation might seem ideal, the more you customise a software the more support it will require in the long run. In addition to that, know that customising core systems will also require highly specialised software developers.


Having the ability to generate reports on training data is essential to measure the progress and meet business requirements. Most cloud hosted LMS’s come with basic and easy-to-manage reporting features. However, if you are looking for more advanced reporting capabilities you may need to consider a self-hosted LMS.

Tip: Though a cloud hosted LMS might not come with the report you want off the shelf, it is possible that the vendor might be able to include it in your subscription. Know the reporting capabilities you require and ask for it.


Once these five considerations have been looked into you’ll have a clearer idea as to which LMS type better suits your business requirements. Don’t simply pick an LMS because it worked for a different organisation. The ideal LMS should help your business give its employees the tools they require to succeed.

Still not 100% confident with your decision? Speak to one of our experts. Call 1300 800 288 or email

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