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On-prem software

Mar 28, 2012 grammar

When it comes to enterprise software (or any software, really), there is a well-known split between software or services that are run, operated, and managed locally, by a company’s own employees or IT staff, and software or services that run in the cloud, operated and managed by someone else.

This split is frequently referred to as the split between “on-prem” and “cloud” software.  That’s all well and good, but unfortunately many people don’t realize what “prem” is abbreviating.

More often than not, when some is speaking or writing the full term, they will refer to “on-premise” software, which is incorrect and doesn’t really make any sense.  The term is properly “on-premises.”

A premise is a supposition or presumption.  E.g. “The underlying premise of his philosophy is all wrong,” “I took the car on the premise that you would not need it tonight.”

Premises are an area of land, along with its buildings.  E.g. “I was asked to leave the premises,” “There is treasure somewhere on the premises.”

Thus the term “on-premise” software doesn’t really have much meaning.  Software which really matches my assumptions?  ”On-premises” software is clearly the intended term:  it’s software which is operated on the premises, not somewhere else.

There is discussion of this common error on the Wikipedia talk page for “On-premises software,” but the editors opted to leave the discussion out of the page proper.


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