October 1, 2018      3 min read

What is cloud-based software?


A cloud-based software is a program where cloud-based and local components work together; users will access a remote server on a web browser with a continual internet access.

Cloud-based apps and desktop apps: What’s the difference?

Cloud-based software is different from traditional desktop apps. Here are some of the differences:

Installation

  • Desktop apps need to be manually downloaded for each device and there are different versions depending on which operating system the device is running on
  • Cloud apps don’t need to be downloaded. The app is rendered in a web browser and exploits browser capabilities (e.g. flash content rendering, CSS)

Updates

  • Desktop apps need to be manually updated periodically and it’s hard to enforce users to all be on the same version at the same time
  • Cloud apps are updated automatically by the app service provider

Platform

  • Desktop apps are platform-dependent. This means they require a separate version for each operating system (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux etc.)
  • Cloud apps are developed to be used in a browser, meaning they can run on various platforms regardless of the operating system (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer etc.)

Data storage

  • In desktop apps, the data is stored in your own computer
  • Cloud-based apps store their data in a server, with a set amount of space allocated to you

Moving your business to the cloud

Analysts at Gartner predict that half of global businesses using the cloud now will have fully adopted it by 2021. It’s not too late for businesses to realise the efficiencies cloud-based apps can provide. The CEO of Unleashed Software, Gareth Berry, describes in part of his podcast how cloud app users are uniquely positioned to reap benefits from the cloud.

Cost savings

Fierce competition among cloud software providers drives down prices for users. This means that cloud-based apps can work out to be less expensive to operate and maintain than equivalent desktop apps.

We’re seeing businesses across many industries adopting cloud-based software to streamline their processes. This has a flow on effect of freeing up more time to invest in other parts of the business, allowing them to sell more and improve their bottom line.

Regular upgrades

Cloud-based applications are typically run on a subscription, meaning that they need to continually provide value for their users, or else they will simply switch to another provider. This prompts them to keep enhancing and upgrading their software to retain users.

Furthermore, these regular updates and new features often come at no extra cost and are automatically updated in the software. Unlike desktop apps, users can come into work the next day and start using the software instead of waiting for it to update.

Disaster recovery

Imagine you’re running your business through a desktop app on your laptop. Should your laptop crash and you’ve neglected to backup your data in a hard drive, you’ll be faced with the worst-case scenario – losing all your data forever.

Cloud app providers consistently back up their users’ data and can restore them should a disaster recovery become necessary. As a caveat, users should check with their cloud app provider on their terms before!

Security

Small businesses can now tap into the powerful security of cloud-based apps. Due to their scale, cloud app providers are able to afford and implement infrastructure security measures that used to be exclusive to large enterprises.

How can you assess your cloud-based software has the required security features? Read our article about cloud software security to find our more.

Can inventory management move to the cloud?

A small business with a few items to manage can get away with managing their inventory on a spreadsheet.

As a business grows, they will find their demand for better inventory management increases. Cloud-based inventory management software is the answer to that. It is effective in managing inventory, tracking stock as it enters the warehouse to when it is shipped off to the end customer, and more.

Great inventory management software will allow business owners and their staff to spend less time worrying about their inventory, and more time growing their business and deepening customer relationships.

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