The internet is terrific in so many ways. We use it almost every single day in many ways. But we have come to know there are dangers in what has become known as cloud technology and it is wise to learn how to shelter from its dark side.
The owner of a large dental lab came to us recently asking about the possibilities for software to manage his cases and revenue. He had succumbed to the appeal of “anytime, anywhere” access to his lab’s information and said yes to one of the cloud-based offerings for dental labs. As the months went by, entering and accessing his lab’s information over the internet had diminished to an excruciatingly slow pace. He had asked the company providing the software for better performance to no avail and the speed continued to go downhill. He reminded them about their promise that he could always request to a copy of his data. He was then told that his information was not in a separate database but part of a large base of information for many labs. To access his own information he would need to take the time to copy it piece by piece into Excel spreadsheets. He could, of course, continue to pay the monthly fee for the cloud-based service….hopefully on their part, forever.
Ask the Questions, Get Guarantees
This type of entrapment is one of the dark sides of the cloud. There are others. To shelter yourself, there are questions you should ask and fulfillments you should require in writing before saying yes to turning your vital business information over to another company. Learn about the technology involved. If you aren’t confident on understanding all of this, ask a professional to guide you.
How is the data structured? Do you have your own database or do you share a database with their other customers?
If you need to transfer any of your information to another system, how is this accomplished?
Are you guaranteed that you can easily have all of your information including case and invoice/payment histories?
How and when is your information backed up? Can you have a copy of your backup?
What language and/or methodology has been used to develop your software?
Can your software be customized if the need arises? What are the costs involved?
What are the guarantees that your information will not be shared with anyone for any purpose?
Where are the servers that store and process your information? What are their safeguards?
Are the up-times guaranteed? And how? Is the technology structured to assure good speed and performance?
Are you guaranteed that the software will continue to be compliant with government and industry standards and regulations?
Does the software provider encourage new ideas and suggestions? Does it have sufficient staff experienced in designing and developing software to provide new features?
How financially stable is the provider of your service? Do they provide their location and full contact information? Are they open to having you visit them?
Explore the Alternatives
We have heard along the way some of the reasons for choosing software as a service from cloud-based companies, some as simple as not being able to remember to back up their files, some because one of the industry journals said it the latest thing, some liking the concept of anytime anywhere. These all have validity. Before saying yes, take the time to explore the alternatives available.
For instance: If you do not like to back up or cannot remember to do it, there are services that will do this for you at specific intervals. These do not have any interest in your specific information and you can always protect your information with logins, passwords or other security measures.
Cloud technology has been around for a while and there has been a gradual tendency toward what are known as hybrid and private clouds. These provide for you to retain control and safeguard your core business information while providing web portals for limited access and interactions by customers, vendors and other associates. If you retain this central control, you will not be limited if you wish to open up new possibilities for communication and interaction.
There are a number of alternate technologies that provide for anytime, anywhere access. These have the advantage of limiting just who can access and when and can limit access to specific information. Often they can also provide tracking on this access.
On behalf of many labs that prefer retaining control of their information, we have researched and tried out a number of these alternative technologies. Give us a call or send an email if you would like to discuss these.
You can contact us at:
Mainstreet Systems & Software Inc.
656 Harleysville Pike, Suite 250, Harleysville, PA 19438 USA