This is a question I am asked every week and I thought I would put down on paper my view. Many of you will be asking what is the Cloud? The first thing you should understand about the cloud is that it is not a physical thing. The cloud is a network of servers, and each server has a different function. They are generally stored in large warehouses and kept at a constant temperature. The beauty of cloud computing is that the servers are off-premises, out of sight and out of your hair. Suppliers take care of them for you and roll out regular software updates – including security updates – so you don’t have to worry about wasting time maintaining the system yourself. The cloud has become so popular because it allows flexibility and greater development opportunities. As an Allied health professional you may ask why should I consider the cloud? The cloud means you no longer need to have your own server or install software to your server. If you want to purchase new software you simply go online and sign up. No downloads or updating your servers. The Accounting industry has seen the largest adoption of cloud-based services with Xero revolutionising the market and forcing its competitors like MYOB to follow.
In Practice Management Software (PMS) the two leading cloud based operators in Australia are Cliniko and Nookal. Cliniko is now the largest PMS provider overtaking Smartsoft’s Front Desk last year, Cliniko is now used in over 55 countries around the world. The Cloud wasn’t even a viable option for small and medium-size business (SMBs) a few years ago. So historically, SMBs have used in-house servers (meaning one located within the company) to host software, applications, file sharing, email and other office essentials.
Here is 7 Reasons why Cloud software is so effective:
1. Flexibility- Cloud based software can grow and move as you do without having to bring in a new server or relocate it.
2. Integrations- A greater amount of integrations be it Accounting software such as Xero & MYOB, Point of Sales such as Vend or Mobile Apps like Nextin.
3. No more Server expenses- You no longer need to buy or manage servers. According to the US Energy Information Administration as of January 2013, an average in-house server in the USA (accounting for both direct IT power and cooling) sucks up about $731.94 per year in electricity. That’s not to mention the initial purchase expense.
4. Security- Cloud based software now has much greater security than ever before and with cloud companies constantly updating and improving they are now just as secure in many instances as personal servers if not more.
5. Backup-Cloud software allows you to implement a cloud-based backup that can save small businesses when things crash. If you have an internal server and it goes down it can be days before it can be rebooted and sometimes data can be lost permanently.
6. Remote Access- With cloud based software you are able to access your data from any device all over the world.
7. Better software at more affordable prices- Now everyone has access to the best software when it’s a cloud based product.
There are so many clear advantages to using a cloud-based system. Many server based PMS providers are looking to move to the cloud. The problem with this is their server-based systems are not easily compatible with the cloud and thus need to be redeveloped or seriously overhauled. Cliniko and Nookal have got the advantage on much of the market, as their products are already tested and performing well in the cloud. They now have the time to implement updates to make even better software. In time, every PMS will be cloud based, it’s just a matter of how long you can afford to put it off. We at Nextin have focused on cloud-based software because it is the future.