It’s a brand new year. People are looking at ways to start the new year off right. They are organizing their data, cleaning up files, and looking at current office setups. One of the things we are finding customers looking at is Cloud based hosting of their critical files. Which for me can either be a very good idea or opening Pandora’s box.
First off, let’s make something very clear. Cloud basically means a computer somewhere else. There is no magic involved. What is attractive about Cloud based technology is it’s typically running in a secure, 24x7 facility and is backed up regularly. What is not so attractive is they have to be accessed via the internet, which goes down once in a while. Actually, more than once in a while. Even if you do have internet connectivity, occasionally Cloud servers themselves are down. We’ve all seen servers in our own environment (called on-premise) not be working but usually there is someone “responsible” for getting them working again and you have direct access to that person. That’s not so with Cloud based servers. You have to go through support and service and hope/pray/beg/grovel to get someone to talk to you understanding that you are not their only customer. Get the picture? Good.
Now that we’ve got that clear (or not so “cloudy” – sorry just had to say that) we can now talk about what works well in a Cloud environment and what you may want to keep close at hand. When considering a Cloud implementation, ask yourself, as a business owner, “sellf – what would happen to my business if the cloud was not available.” Now ask the same question but further define it as to “how long” – for some a few minutes is not a biggy. But say you have your accounting systems on the cloud. And it’s down for 2 days. Yep, this has happened to a couple of my clients. Now, that’s critical. You can’t send out invoices, place orders, etc. Critical. It really all depends on how important it is for you to access this data 24x7, no matter what.
Which brings me to CRM. Customer Relationship Management tools actually are good candidates for a Cloud environment. While I have clients where they are more attached to Act! than they are to their accounting system, this is not always the case. However, if you really look at the data, if this is history data, etc it can be “offline” for a day or so – unless of course you are using the calendar at which point, no, it can’t be offline. You can’t afford to miss appointments. Customers simply don’t like it.
As you can see, you have to ask the right questions about your systems and data before making a plunge and putting everything in the cloud.
But say, now, you have decided you really would like to have some redundancy in your data. For the rest of this post, I am going to talk about options for Act!
One of the things I love about Act! is that you have options. You can run it on your own server (on premise). You can run it on a cloud server and access it via a browser – not needing to install it on every computer (browser based only in this scenario). You can have a master copy of your database live on a Cloud server, have a remote that lives on your on premise server, and your staff accesses it locally, knowing that it is being backed up every night and in a secure facility if something happens to your local server. You can have people in the field, using laptops, running remotes that send their changes to the Cloud server. Or, they can be at a customer site and access it via a browser. You can have mobile devices like iPads and smart phones accessing the data real time on the Cloud server or on your own server (it needs to be accessible via the internet). That’s what I mean about options. Act! can be where you want it, when you need it, how you want to see it. The graphic below shows that – lots and lots of options.
As you plan out your year, and look for ways to streamline and make you business more efficient, ensuring that your data is safe and secure is key. Knowing that you have options makes it easier to help make your decision.
If you would like to hear more about Act!, Cloud environments, or your choices, give us a call at (423)875-2652. We can help.