One of the questions we field most commonly here at Limo Anywhere is “what’s cloud-based software, and why is it the best option for me?” To which our response is usually “great question!”
Cloud-based software is, in a nutshell, the provision of software as a service which is accessed over the internet. This differs from the “traditional” software model which involves products installed locally on a computer itself; instead, cloud customers use a web-based interface to access software running on physical hardware at a remote data center. Historically, local solutions were how technology was consumed (remember those pretty Microsoft Office packages?), but in the past several years cloud computing has penetrated nearly every corner of our technological lives – if you’ve ever used Gmail, you’ve experienced cloud-based software.
So, what are the benefits of using the cloud?
Minimal upfront investment of time or money: Using cloud-based software involves no investment in hardware (other than your computer and internet connection), and usually a very small financial investment with a software provider, allowing you to try out products quickly, with maximum flexibility, and most importantly, without needing technological expertise. Decide to sign up one minute, and you can be in the software the next.
Flexibility: Cloud computing can be accurately described as “on-demand”. The services are available when you need them and provide an immense amount of flexibility because of the pooled hardware resources used. In fact, surveys of IT professionals often rate flexibility as the major reason to use cloud-based services – it’s simply an easy way to keep your business nimble and responsive.
Accessible from anywhere: Generally speaking, cloud-based software is available anywhere that has an internet connection. At work, on the road, at the beach – if you have internet, it can be accessed. Have an employee who wants to work from home? No problem! If there is internet, you’re good to go.
Automatic updates: Remember the days of you or your employees downloading updates and waiting for installation to finish, creating a drain on productivity? Cloud-based software pushes updates through on the server level (usually overnight), keeping your business humming and focused on revenue-producing activities.
Security and redundancy: Use of cloud-based software effectively means you are outsourcing to a third party who specializes in the administration of technology services. For most businesses, this is a positive. Why worry about disaster recovery plans and data security protocol when a third party can do it for you?
Employee collaboration and productivity: Documents and data sync up in real-time, and allow for multiple users to access them simultaneously. Your employees work and your business runs in real-time; your technology should as well.
Obviously, here at Limo Anywhere we believe cloud-based software is a fantastic solution for most businesses. Our name does, after all, reflect a cloud-based solution. Even we acknowledge, however, that it’s not a universal product; certain companies, because of their size or particular business needs, may find that purchasing and operating local software and hardware is the best solution. But for most small and medium-sized businesses, cloud software is “just what the doctor ordered”.