Cloud vs. Enterprise Dispatch Systems – A Primer

In virtually every industry, cloud-based software solutions and software as a service (SaaS) have gone mainstream, quickly supplanting enterprise and desktop software. From a business end-user’s standpoint, the wide range of advantages make it easy to understand why. However, the benefits to the software vendors are equally compelling, due to greatly simplified software update & support procedures. Rather than updating and supporting each customer’s individual system, a single update can apply to an entire SaaS customer base.

Characteristics

Cloud

  1. Often referred to as “SaaS” or “Software as a Service”, cloud based systems are usually paid for on a subscription basis, such as on a monthly payment. Think Google Drive, DropBox, QuickBooks Online or SalesForce as examples of cloud based systems.
  2. Cloud computing can be defined as a type of computing that relies on shared computing resources rather than having local servers or workstations do the heavy lifting.
  3. In cloud computing, the word “cloud” is used as a metaphor for “the Internet,” so the phrase cloud computing means that software services are delivered through the internet.
  4. Generally speaking, cloud-based services require very little processing power at the local (user) level, with most of the transactions handled “in the cloud”. Most often, this can mean that the local program run by the end user is operated through a simple web browser, an app or some sort of “thin” client.

Enterprise

  1. Enterprise systems are usually “purchased” outright, rather than “subscribed” to on a monthly basis.
  2. An “enterprise system” is generally a software solution that is installed internally an organization’s computer infrastructure, versus being hosted externally.
  3. Typically, an enterprise system is designed for use with only a single customer, rather than as a hosted application service provider (ASP) for use amongst multiple organizations. (multi-tenant)
  4. Smaller enterprise systems could be classified as “Desktop” solutions, which typically run on a single PC, whereas larger enterprise systems are typically installed on a file server for shared use amongst multiple PC workstations.
  5. Enterprise systems are typically maintained by the end user, rather than the software provider from a hardware and network standpoint.

Benefits

Cloud

  • Lower IT costs
  • Reduced capital outlay
  • Reduced Install Fees
  • Maintenance baked in
  • Increased scalability
  • Improved security
  • Disaster recovery
  • Lower purchasing risk
  • Greater accessibility
  • Simpler budgeting

Enterprise

  • Faster performance
  • Better control of data
  • Internet independent
  • Configurability

Yesterday

In the past, the single biggest advantage of an enterprise system was the lack of dependence on the internet. This still rings true today, however today’s internet services are not only much faster, but much more reliable as well. Widespread availability of fibre and coax right to the premises has improved these services immensely. In addition, backup internet is often available from a second provider, such as a low cost DSL service.

Another strong factor in favor of enterprise systems in the past was the ability to keep your “hands” on your own data. No one else has your data, so its more secure and so on… However, this is almost humorous today, as most corporations are backing up their data to the cloud anyway! Typically, our data is already in someone else’s control. Its a good thing too, because show me an enterprise system and I’ll show you someone that has lost data to a virus, a failed server or other piece of hardware, etc.

Today

In today’s world, the reality is that our data is not only safer in the cloud, but more secure, due to the encryption and fail-proof redundancies of professional hosting services. Who do you think guards and maintains data better -Microsoft or the local IT guy looking after your stuff? My bet is with Microsoft! Today’s hosting providers and SaaS solution providers use highly available, secure and scalable environments to keep our systems on the air and safe.

As an example, about one year ago, our company switched from a multi-user QuickBooks Enterprise system to QuickBooks Online. It was a little painful in the beginning, migrating our data over to a new environment. However, we can now access our books from virtually anywhere, on any device and we can have multiple instances of QuickBooks open at the same time, on the same PC. Just open up another browser tab! We can have our payables on one tab, receivables on the next and so on… Best of all, there is nothing to install on the workstations and no updates to worry about. QuickBooks was never a very good multi-user system, so saying goodbye to all those issues was a welcome relief.

Your Cake And Eat It Too

The interesting thing is with these new cloud technologies, is that they can also be adapted to enterprise environments. New software systems like Taxi Commander or QuickBooks Online are designed to be SaaS systems that are meant to handle multiple tenants in a single system. But, who is to say they can’t be installed in a local corporate environment?

Install a modern SaaS cloud based system on your own premises and what do you have? An Enterprise Cloud -or Intranet, with all the benefits of both! This means that you can:

  • Continue operating locally if the internet is down
  • Enjoy the benefits of a zero footprint installation on the workstations (run it from the browser)
  • Control access both internally and externally
  • Have a highly scalable solution -the same one the vendor uses to host their SaaS

To take this a step further, why not host your own SaaS in your own remote cloud? You can have your own enterprise cloud and it doesn’t have to be in your building. It can be in ours or in Amazon, Google, Microsoft or any other professional hosting centre.

Tomorrow

Its safe to say, that with the benefits and the additional flexibilities of today’s infrastructure and hosting environments, everything is migrating to the cloud. It may be your cloud, it may be ours or it may be Amazon’s -but in any case, regardless of whether we are looking at enterprise software, desktop software or software as a service, its all going to the cloud.

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