One of the benefits provided by cloud services is rapid server and application deployment. Cloud services are well-suited to applications with short lifespans that have a defined end date. Survey software is a good example of that. Cloud services also provide different paths for survey deployment, such as virtual servers in an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) environment or a managed application installation in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment.
Survey software is a powerful tool for marketing, customer relations, and gathering information. Many different options exist, but choosing the right solution for your needs doesn't have to be rocket science. We will look at three options in this tutorial to help you pick the approach that is right for you.
LimeSurvey is one of the most popular survey software packages. LimeSurvey can either be self-hosted or managed through an SaaS. It can be installed very quickly on a CenturyLink Cloud virtual server using the LimeServer Blueprint. LimeSurvey can also be deployed as a SaaS product through LimeService themselves or a similar provider.
SurveyMonkey is an online survey SaaS providing both free and paid service tiers. SurveyMonkey also provides a suite of enterprise-class features including data analysis, consumer-focused marketing, and brand management.
Both methods of deploying and running survey software have their advantages. So let's compare the two by examining the requirements for survey software an enterprise might have and how the requirements might be met.
Examining the Requirements
No project is complete without a list of requirements. Deciding between a self-hosted solution or SaaS doesn't have to be a painful experience. Both cloud-based approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, and learning to evaluate them empowers you to choose a solution with confidence. Many of the requirements can be used to evaluate future software deployment choices as well.
Both solutions provide a reasonable amount of front-end customization. SurveyMonkey has a limited amount of front-end customization, allowing free-tier users to select pre-defined themes and make small adjustments along the way.
However, self-hosted software offers an additional bonus to customization: access to the back-end and source code. With self-hosted LimeSurvey, you can customize every aspect of the application. Of course, many elements of back-end customization will need to be done by a front-end or back-end developer, but the flexibility provides a lot of power.
With a SaaS solution, you will only be able to integrate services to the extent that the provider allows. Integration capabilities vary widely by SaaS provider, but will always be limited to their choices.
Self-hosted software gives you the ability to add plug-ins or make configuration changes with all manner of integrations. With survey software, this could mean integration with existing customer or client lists, analytic packages, or custom database drivers. The self-hosted option has the potential to be tightly integrated with your existing cloud infrastructure.
Technical Staff Requirements
Both the CenturyLink Blueprint and the SaaS option are easy to deploy without additional technical support. However, ongoing maintenance requirements are different for each. The SaaS is completely managed by a third-party. So any technical issues are dealt with through the SaaS provider's support structure. This experience can be a mixed bag and depends entirely on the SaaS provider.
On the other hand, self-hosted software has a higher technical staff requirement. Staff may be required to do additional system configuration or conduct the initial cloud service deployment. Some customization might require assistance from developers or DevOps personnel. In addition, any software upgrades will require manual intervention.
SurveyMonkey has a straightforward, predictable pricing plan for commercial users. However, SaaS pricing tiers can cause unpredictable bottlenecks or cost spikes as usage ceilings are reached.
Self-hosted software can have less-predictable pricing, but it also allows scaling of services allocated for a particular task to stay within a project's budget. CenturyLink Cloud provides a pricing estimator that gives project planners an accurate idea of what a service's requirements will cost.
Deploy the LimeSurvey Blueprint
The CenturyLink Cloud Blueprint integration provides a click-through solution to install and configure LimeSurvey on a virtual Linux server. Follow the steps below to deploy your own self-hosted LimeSurvey solution.
CenturyLink Cloud Servers allow you to create highly configurable, high-performance virtual servers, while paying only for what you use. These enterprise-grade virtual machines are easy to deploy. You can manage the servers from the CenturyLink Cloud Portal or via API calls.
CenturyLink Cloud Blueprints offer deployable configurations that can bring a new environment online in a few clicks. Custom apps and pre-packaged software are always deployed to their ideal settings, thus eliminating problems related to misconfiguration and mismanagement.
Before We Start
If you don’t have a CenturyLink Cloud account yet, no problem. Head over to our website and sign up for a free trial. You’ll need it to access CenturyLink Blueprints and deploy virtual servers. Try our most popular products, or MarketPlace Partners offerings, allowing you to create a combination of products that best fits your business needs.
Find the LimeSurvey Blueprint
Follow these steps to start the deployment process.
- Login to the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal.
Select Blueprints Library from the pull-down menu.
Enter LimeSurvey into the Refine Results box and click go.
Click Install LimeSurvey on Linux x64.
- Click deploy blueprint.
Customizing the Blueprint
The LimeSurvey Blueprint customization only requires that you fill out a form and wait for provisioning before deployment. Follow the steps below to complete the process.
- Fill out the Deploy Install LimeSurvey on Linux x64 Blueprint form. Pay particular attention to the Password field in the Build Server(s) section, which needs your CenturyLink Cloud account password.
- Click next: step 2.
- After reviewing your settings, click deploy blueprint.
The "Deploy Blueprint" screen appears with a progress indicator.
Note: If the LimeSurvey Blueprint fails to deploy, return to Step 1 of this section and try again.
Configuring the Server for Access
In order to allow access to your new LimeSurvey installation from the Internet, you will need to add a public IP address and allow Internet traffic to a few specific ports. Follow the directions below to get your server ready for the public.
- Login to the Control Portal.
- Select Servers from the drop-down menu.
- Navigate to your LimeSurvey server.
- Click the more menu and then click add public ip.
- Check the boxes for HTTP (80) and HTTPS (443).
- Click add public ip address.
Your server's new public IP address will now be displayed on the summary screen. Access that IP address in your web browser to be taken to the new LimeSurvey installation.
SaaS is a powerful platform, but self-hosted software is more flexible and customizable. Both options have their benefits. It is important to carefully consider your requirements before selecting which approach to take.
The CenturyLink Cloud Blueprints library has many helpful self-hosted, automatically deployed software packages. Explore them today and find a solution that meets the challenges you face.
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