Some IT companies will tell you “The Cloud” is just a fancy marketing way of saying “a server”. In simple terms they are not wrong, and the storage of data is occurring in a way that we are used to on a physical drive but it’s just located away from your office. But the concept of the cloud is not just about the storage of data. There is far more to it than that……
Let’s start with data storage….
Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, GoogleDrive are all providers of data storage amongst a fleet of others, the brilliance of storing data on the cloud is document accessibility, no need to carry USB sticks to transfer data from working environments.
Simply work on a file, save the file and then wait for sync to occur this will obviously depend on the speed of your internet connection but the better cloud storage will only save the incremental changes to the files, we work on a superfast connection and rarely do we wait for longer than a couple of seconds for a satisfying green tick to appear to tell us the file is safe and secure on the cloud. And when we receive an email about that document whilst only with phone access we can access the file on our phone or tablet and see it without having to boot up the laptop we originally worked on or to get back to the office to access the server.
What about software….
This is where the strength of the cloud really comes in to its own, no longer do we need software on our computer, now we can operate our software within an internet browser, this has reduced the cost of staying up to date with software and also the issues of performing fixes and updates. The software lives on the developers servers, they can work on it tweak it and improve it without interrupting our day to day running.
The subscriptions they receive mean they are committed to improving the software, stop development and they lose customers. The subscription method of paying for software means that a successful piece of software enables the developer to continue working on it and employing enough staff to keep it moving forward. Imagine a company that develops a software for and charges £10 per month, and they achieve 6,000 users, that’s £60,000 income per month.
Linking it all together….
The best part of the cloud is the fact that all these softwares and data centres have ways of talking to each other, the best software makes use of data in other software and once permission has been granted to allow the connection the ability to work smarter and faster is achieved.
For example let’s take three of our favourite Cloud software services, Quickboooks Online, Entryless and LivePlan.
In Quickbooks we have all of our accounting data, one of the bores of accounting is repetitive data entry, the clue is in the name Entryless takes this boredom away, scan your purchase invoices and upload to Entryless and it extracts all the important data, code the entry and the software enters it into Quickbooks for you.
Now we have all of our financials entered, but we want to compare to our business plan, in the past you would have to export to an excel file and use a spreadsheet to compare to your original budgets, now just open LivePlan and sync the data from Quickbooks and you’ll see a straight comparison against your forecast.
This is only a mere scratch of the surface into the ability of the Cloud and it is still in relative infancy, it’s improving everyday with new providers and new interesting ways to help you control and run your business.