What are the benefits v risks of cloud v onsite licence solutions?
The argument between “the cloud” versus onsite software licensing is currently raging at an Australian business near you.
From boardrooms to IT departments, the risks and benefits of moving office applications into the cloud are being weighed up and costs negotiated.
For some businesses though it’s a big change from the traditional systems and applications they’ve been using for many years. And there can be risks.
So what is cloud based software licensing?
Just like running a piece of software in your office or home, with cloud based software systems you share the software online in your own secure area.
And it’s all hosted on powerful web servers in another city or even country for you to access anytime, anywhere.
Herein lies the biggest benefit of cloud based software, namely increased access for you and your staff, leading to greater productivity out of the office.
Business and the Cloud
Over the years businesses have relied on locally based server software to run their critical applications.
And to do this they’ve been installing software from a disk that they buy from the local software vendor or receive in the mail. The issue here is that not only is it time consuming to acquire the software, but for many of us it’s difficult to set up and then configure.
The biggest issue though is generally after the set-up, as many server software licences need to be renewed each year and some, such as large email systems, are expensive and need to be constantly maintained.
With the cloud, it is fast to set up your service as you aren’t installing any software in-house. All of this process is virtual, because you access your cloud based software service via a web browser and internet connection, and technical people run all of the IT side of things behind the scenes.
When your business grows, you can also scale up the cloud services to accommodate your expanding needs.
Cloud systems are growing
Over the past few years, the cloud has become a big and fast growing business. This is due to increased bandwidth coverage, mobile workforces and big data access needs.
Brands such as Xero (accounting) and Salesforce (customer relationship) are integrating with your old software systems too. These new virtual services understand that you’ll need to upload years’ worth of data and they have ways to import it all in.
Another reason for their growth is that many offer monthly contracts, rather than large upfront costs for software licences. Plus they’ll support it all 24/7.
The cloud and security
So in business, as in the home, who do you choose to run your applications? Software or the cloud? Whatever you choose, security is the big consideration here.
Just like at home, when you pop anything personal in the cloud, such as family pictures or your budget details, you should do it with a reputable website that you trust.
For your business’s cloud based data and services, do your homework first on the providers and make sure you visit the forums and review websites to see what others are saying about their service and support channels.
Like anything, there are always the advantages and disadvantages of going to a new platform or method of delivery for your mission critical business applications. You’ll ultimately need to decide on the risks you’re willing to take.
Finally, make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions when you are signing up to any cloud based service. You need to know how you’ll be tracked online and if all your data is secure and backed up in real time.
Liew Jury is Managing Director of Reload Media