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Zoho CRM Hosting Review

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Zoho Hosting and Data Center Delivery

Zoho CRM is available only as a SaaS application. A private cloud or on-premises installation is not available.

Zoho uses Tier 4 data centers, including Equinix and Savvis data centers in New York and California, to colo its equipment and provide strong physical infrastructure environments. Customer data is mirrored in a separate geographic location for disaster recovery and business continuity purposes. However, its important to note that geo mirroring is only available on select products and plans.

Zoho CRM receives point releases or small updates about every 3 weeks on average, with new versions released about every 18 months. As is the case with most SaaS CRM products, new versions are automatically pushed to all customer instances simultaneously.

The company guarantees 99.5% uptime, however, the guarantee is not backed with any financial credit or refund policy for non conformance. Zoho recently implemented an online performance visibility website at which displays hosted system performance, uptime metrics, downtime details and the like. While the online status site does not display hosting history, it does include monitoring from multiple global locations.

Zoho says its data center and software delivery are US/EU Safe Harbour compliant (helpful for European companies) and TRUSTe certified (helpful for privacy). However, the company does not possess information security attestations such as ISO 27001 or SAS 70 Type II.

The company goes to length to demonstrate online data is not locked up by the vendor as may be the case for some CRM competitors. In addition to the standard on-demand CSV file extracts, for an additional fee, customers may request a one-time or automated complete database backup export.

Zoho Deployment Considerations

Zoho is clearly one of the simplest CRM systems to implement. Configuration options and simple design-oriented software customization capabilities are fairly limited and straight forward. System integration may incur more time and expense depending upon the project, but such is the case with any CRM system. As the CRM software delivers intuitive navigation and follows traditional workflow processes, user training can be completed in days, not weeks.

Zoho delivers online help, a customer knowledgebase and rich online forums for customers. While English grammar is sometimes lacking, there's comprehensive user and technical content on virtually every software module and capability.

For Zoho customers seeking consulting support, the Zoho Alliance Partner Program (ZAPP) consists of resellers, integration partners, strategic alliances and technology partners. Partner coverage is spotty but global. We expect Zoho to increase both the volume and quality of reseller partners over the near term. Like NetSuite, Zoho is growing their business in part through OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) agreements. For example, Zoho's OEM license with China's Baihui has resulted in their product being remarketed in China as a Baihui solution.

Customers may also benefit from the Zoho Marketplace—an online ecosystem of integrated third party applications which can extend the CRM software for unique business processes, functional gaps or integration to popular third party products.

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