In the past when a person needed new software such as Microsoft Office, they would simply travel to their nearest retailer and purchase a brightly-colored box with a CD and a license key inside. The next transition from this became visiting a website, purchasing online, and downloading a file directly from the website.
And now it seems that we have hit the next phase. Applications now are going a step further by not requiring a download or installation at all, but by logging into the application via the internet. Welcome to the Cloud!
So what are “Cloud-based Applications” & How Does it Work?
We often see the term SaaS. SaaS is a term for Software as a Service; meaning that instead of buying software in disk form, you are paying for a service that is provided to you. You are no longer getting a CD and installing it on your computer, but accessing it by visiting a website and logging in.
So are Cloud-based Applications Really Better than Installed Versions?
There are certainly advantages to moving to the cloud. Small businesses should really look at their goals and potential growth and evaluate their current network situation. Contacting a local IT company to help with this evaluation would also be beneficial.
Some of the benefits of cloud-based applications include:
- Less maintenance required
- Reduction of start-up costs
- Regular updates and patches, performed by the vendor
- Reliable backups controlled by the vendor
- Ability to access your data from multiple locations and devices
- Flexibility; typically a per user fee. Only pay for the users you have accessing it.
Questions to Consider:
As with any network changes, there are questions you should consider before making a switch in platforms. Again, it is always wise to involve your IT department or company to help with an evaluation beforehand.
System requirements; even cloud-based applications may have onsite needs. If so, what are they?
Network compliancy; is your environment compliant with current, up-to-date devices? This can be your PCs, the browsers that you use, and most importantly, your internet connection.
HIPAA compliancy; Do you require HIPAA compliancy and does the cloud provider you’re considering offer it?
For the most part, changing from an installed version to a cloud-based version should be a relatively smooth transition, especially if it is still with the same solutions provider or vendor. And as we are now seeing, it is becoming the current trend with most providers to move in this direction, forcing our hand so to speak.
The biggest point to make here is that if we don’t stay current with our technology, we only open ourselves to potential security threats or “old tech” that just keeps breaking. Staying current with your IT will help eliminate your downtime.