On-prem vs Online - Project Server

I'm writing this out because it took me ages to get even a hazy answer.

TL;DR: Project On-prem is 30-50% cheaper, depending on a 2- or 3-year license lifecycle and of course your availability requirements - assuming ~85 users.

Company has project managers using Project Pro 2010 and other users who enter timesheet info into PWA.   The PMs make up ~10% of the userbase.  Project Server 2010 set up in a somewhat arcane 'all-in-one' box (IIRC, the demo configuration not recommended for production use).  The company is coming up to a licensing refresh and wants to know if they should look at Office 365/Project Online.  It's the thing lately, right?

Ok, sure...I've already discussed the Office portion being a no brainer for SMB, so Project must also fall under that.  By my wording you already know this is not the case.

Project Online
The licensing is somewhat simple:

  • PWA users = Project Online subscription
  • Midsize subscription + SharePoint Online 2 or an E3 subscription
  • PMs = Project Pro with Project Online
You can do the math on that.  Project Online on its own is $35/user/month.

Project On-prem
If you've never dealt with SharePoint or Project licensing before...this will be somewhat eye-opening.
  • SharePoint server license
  • Project Server server license
  • SQL Server server license
  • SQL user CALs (unless you do per-core SQL licensing - at this user level it's better to do so)
  • SharePoint Standard CALs
  • SharePoint Enterprise CALs
  • Project Server CALs
  • Project Professional (this comes with a Project Server CAL)
That's a big list!  It's already looking more expensive!!

Add up the MSRP of all those items, however, and you end up with (in our case) something like 100k over three years for on-prem, and 50k annually for the online equivalent.  To be clear, a bullet list:
  • Online: 150k for three years
  • On-prem: 100k for three years

Am I wrong?  Are the two separate licensing reps that I spoke to about this wrong?  One of the software teams knew even less than I did about this, and after a week still don't have anything solid to tell me.

Anyways...100k is still a LOT of dollars for management to deal with - alternate options are being investigated.  Not to mention we're using it 'out of the box' and so missing out on a lot of the power.  I don't really get that part...why not offer a non-customizable option for half the price?  At $1200/head for Project Pro, they certainly could open up a new customer base.  Guess that's why they are pushing Project Online.


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