Cloud software has emerged as a highly dynamic, expanding area of the IT market. The benefits and opportunities it offers make it a highly viable choice for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
However the growth of cloud software has perhaps been a little stymied by misunderstandings and urban myths lurking out there. Hopefully this post will clear some of those up!
What is cloud computing?
In its simplest form cloud software, and cloud computing, refers to software hosted and connected in real-time for access (usually through the internet).
Practically, this means that you can access the software through the internet from any location or device.
More specifically, the most recent rise in use of the term ‘cloud computing’ in a small business sense refers to ‘software as a service’ (SaaS).
This is a model whereby software is hosted in a ‘cloud’ format, and the user pays for access, usually on a monthly or weekly basis, dependent on requirements. Some examples of recent cloud SaaS providers include Google Apps, Xero, simPRO, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, MYOB Live, GeoOp and many others.
What are the advantages of cloud software?
One of the most significant and common advantages of cloud software is that it alleviates the need for investment in the hardware and infrastructure that would normally be required to run enterprise applications.
Therefore, this software is accessible from any device, usually anywhere in the world (subject to government limitations, we all know about Facebook and China!).
Imagine never having to worry about backing up your data or upgrading your software again! This concept is a reality with cloud computing.
When a cloud software provider needs to release a new feature, they simply prepare everything on their end, take down the website for a small amount of time (usually less than an hour at an ultra early time on a Sunday morning) and make the changes.
Users have immediate access to the new features minus the headaches of re-installs, hardware dramas or that overstretched IT Support Team.
This obviously offers significant benefits, particularly for small businesses.
What else do I need to be aware of?
The two primary objections that I hear most often are:
- Security, and
Both of these are completely understandable concerns, however neither are anything to be particularly worried about in a modern software environment.
The question about security tends to be raised because people are concerned about the protection of their corporate data.
In most cases though, the security measures in place from cloud software providers are way more advanced and secure than what the average business has with a traditional rack of servers.
In fact, most SaaS providers operate in environments that have military grade security. Remember, a SaaS provider has a lot at stake! Compromised security would spell the end of their business. Therefore they have a significant vested interest in ensuring the data is highly secure.
The same goes for speed. With the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network in the rollout phase, and 4G mobile networks now available in all metro and some major regional areas, there’s now no real reason why speed should become a critical issue.