Cloud computing is often far more secure than traditional computing, because companies like Google and Amazon can attract and retain cyber-security personnel of a higher quality than many governmental agencies. – Vivek Kundra, former federal CIO of the United States of America.
The Cloud. Who made it? What is it? When did this all come about? Where is it? Why is it all the rave?
The Cloud. To a lot of people, The Cloud is this mysterious thing. It’s some place somewhere that has all this stuff about other stuff. In this post, I am going to break down The Cloud a little more. All of our services are Cloud-based, and there’s a good reason behind it. I’m going to share it with you now.
Who made it? And when?
If you think it was Apple, unfortunately you’re incorrect. “The Cloud” has actually been around a lot longer than most people realize. The earliest mention of “The Cloud” is possibly made by none other than Kurt Vonnegut. In his book Sirens of Titan, published in 1959, Kurt Vonnegut actually refers to a cloud “that does all the heavy thinking for everybody.” Which is actually surprisingly similar to the way a lot of computers utilize the cloud today.
The Cloud, and cloud computing, is originally believed to have been invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s with his work on ARPANET. ARPANET is actually what became the network that became the basis for the internet.
What is it?
What is “The Cloud”? Good question. “Some place somewhere that has all this stuff about other stuff” is actually somewhat of a fair description, albeit quite vague. The Cloud, or Cloud computing, put very simply, is software and services that run on the internet instead of your computer.
Dropbox, Netflix, Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Microsoft Office 365, Spotify, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and the entire POS on Cloud platform, all of these are cloud based services.
Where is it?
When you store something in the cloud, you are allowing the service provider to store your data for you. We will use gmail as an example. When you get an e-mail sent to your gmail account, unless you use Microsoft Outlook or another similar program, your email is being stored on the cloud. You can go to www.gmail.com to access it. Your gmails are being stored on Google’s servers, in one of their many data centers. A data center is essentially an entire building or space filled with computers and servers dedicated to the processing and storage of data. Most of the internet resides in the form of files that are scattered across hundreds of thousands of data centers worldwide.
If we were using POS on Cloud as an example, we store all of our customer’s data with the highest level encryption technologies, backed up to 3 data centers around the world. One in the Eastern United States, one in the Western United States, and one in the Pacific. We actually utilize Amazon’s infrastructure for the purpose of security, reliability, and redundancy.
That’s all neat, but why use the cloud?
Again, another great question! The cloud has many, many benefits. Before I begin this next section, I want to introduce the term “Software as a service,” often abbreviated SaaS. SaaS is a software distribution model in which software is hosted by the vendor, and provided to the end user over the internet. GMail software is hosted by Google, and provided to you over the internet. The same is true with POS on Cloud. All our software is hosted by ourselves and Amazon, and provided to you over the internet. SAAS is hosted in the cloud, and uses the internet to make it’s way to you. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the cloud benefits.
Lower cost to start
When you utilize SAAS, the costs are much lower. Let’s use Microsoft Office as an example. Just going online, I can see that Microsoft Office Professional 2014 costs around $275 when you buy the package and CD. Now, when I look at Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft’s software-as-a-service, which has the exact same features, it costs only $99.99 for the first year! (Please not that this is purely for example purposes, and the price will obviously change in the future, nor am I selling or setting a price for said software). Many companies that utilize software-as-a-service models have found out that it is much simpler to charge a flat subscription rate that is much lower than an up front cost. This allows for many more consumers to access their product, and often times doesn’t require consumers to have to repeatedly buy the next update when it comes out, such as Microsoft Office Professional 2015. This brings me to my next point.
The vendor is responsible
In the previous paragraph I wrote about updating software from Office Pro 2014 to Office Pro 2015. Even if a typical consumer gets 3 years out of Office Pro 2014 and doesn’t update until Office Pro 2017, there is still another $275 or so fee. (Again I can’t predict the future, just an example). When you utilize software as a service, the vendor takes responsibility for 3 things that the consumer would normally be responsible for. Namely upgrades, uptime, and security.
If you have a computer you use regularly, or maybe an antivirus program, I’m sure that you occasionally see pop up bubbles that say “your computer needs to update!” or “your computer needs to restart to install updates!” and it’s a pain. I despise updating my computer, because it often comes at the most inconvenient times, at no fault of the manufacturer. With software as a service, upgrades are seamless. Specifically referencing POS on Cloud, when we update the software, you won’t even know. Just like Microsoft does with Office 365.
Uptime is another issue. If you have ever used a computer before, I’m sure there have been occasions where something has gone wrong, or the computer has crashed. When this occurs, you suddenly find yourself thrown into the midst of the bane of the computer world; downtime. When you utilize software as a service, it becomes the vendor’s responsibility, not yours, to maintain uptime, and ensuring that their software is accessible. POS on Cloud can proudly boast that we have 100% uptime-to-date at the time this article was posted.
Security is the third primary responsibility that shifts to the vendor. With software as a service, the vendor is responsible and liable for ensuring the safety of all your data, and your customer’s. POS on Cloud can also proudly boast that we have never been breached.
Pay as you go
I mentioned previously that software-as-a-service typically uses a subscription model. This provides another unique advantage to the consumer. Since there is such a low cost to entry, with the subscription pay as you go model, you can quit any time you like. If their customer service is terrible, and their software is buggy, and you hate hate hate them, then simply stop paying for it. This puts the power in the consumer’s hands and provides a huge benefit.
Low learning curves
Software as a service is generally delivered through a browser. For this reason, it is typically much easier to learn and adopt. The familiar browser environment allows for less time training employees, and more time for them to work and put your new software to use. Employees can usually learn POS on Cloud in 30 minutes of training, and managers an owners in an hour.
Planning for the future
Most software as a service programs are designed with multiple plans, or features, for different sizes of customers. When I started my first company, I didn’t need a marketing team that cost $10,000 a month, but a larger company might. If your company adopts a software as a service, any decent company will have plans to scale, allowing you to grow as you need. Since you are already utilizing their software, all your products, settings, and design will be saved. To talk about POS on Cloud one more time, this is really one of our pride points. Lots of our customers started out in one store, or tried us in one of their stores. After a while, when they were ready to open a new location, it took only a few minutes to set them up with a multi-store platform. The software for their new store was ready to go in no time at all.
Integration is another aspect in the planning for the future aspect. Software as a service typically integrates with other platforms to provide more functionality and ease of use. We have integrated our point of sale software with EasyWay Online Ordering to give our customers their own online ordering web pages. We also integrate seamlessly with QuickBooks, and multiple gift card and loyalty programs, not to mention merchant processing. This is possible because by providing more integration, we can provide more value to our customers, and be a better business. It’s a win-win.
Earlier I said that the cloud is accessible through the internet. These days, where can you get internet? Everywhere. POS on Cloud allows our customers to access and monitor how their store(s) is/are doing in real time, from any licensed computer. If you have to stay home with the kids one day because they’re sick, or if you are in your other store, or if you’re making enough to be sitting on a beach in Hawaii, (I’m jealous). You can monitor how your employees are doing, simply pull up the webpage we provide our customers, and all your store information is available in real time. You can watch it as it’s happening, just like if you were there.
In conclusion, the cloud is pretty neat. I think so anyway, and I hope you do too. Our teams have worked tirelessly to provide you with what we know is the best service for your money in the industry, and our experience, and software proves it.
I hope that you have enjoyed this article about the cloud, and software as a service, and that this nugget of information will allow you to make more informed business and personal decisions in the future.
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