Ask 100 people, and you’ll get 101 answers. Basically the concept of cloud computing is that certain resources (like software and data) are accessed over a network, typically the Internet.
Catch phrases like networked computing, file servers, web-based, application service providers, software as a service, and hosted databases are all terms encompassed in the cloud concept. As a marketing term, cloud computing most often refers to running software and/or database access over the Internet.
Is it time for cloud computing?
Absolutely, and you’ve probably been “in the cloud” for at least a decade – if you run a business. However, the old cloud concept has serious risks, which you should explore further before you jump too fast toward a current cloud offering.
What are the risks of having software or data in the cloud?
Most of the risks can be combined into the category of “access”. If you cannot access your software or data, you have a major problem – possibly one that will put you out of business. It’s not just connectivity that you need to be concerned about; consider the following deal-breakers in the old traditional cloud:
- Without a fast Internet connection, you have no access. While we’ve come a long way, ask someone who’s endured a natural disaster, or someone whose Internet provider has had issues, about their willingness to trust an always-on Internet connection.
- If your cloud provider goes out of business, you are completely stuck. In most typical cloud implementations, there are two providers – the one you deal with (what you see as the front-end), and the one they deal with (the back-end where stuff happens). If either one fails, you’re in trouble.
- If your cloud provider decides to raise their prices beyond what you can afford, you’re in a pickle. This isn’t a rarity, it’s the norm. Many cloud providers’ business models demand that they bring you in at a palatable price point, then increase the prices once they meet critical mass – knowing that you don’t have options. Concerned about your provider? Ask to see the business plan they submitted to investors. Chances are it looks just like this.
- If your cloud provider decides they don’t want your business anymore, you’re stuck. Think that’s far fetched? Consider these two reports that most cloud providers run on a regular basis:
1. Most resource intensive users. A cloud provider makes some assumptions about their average users, and builds resources around those assumptions. If you are a high volume user, you are not a profitable user for them, and they have a strong incentive to drop you (after they’ve reached a critical mass of users, or all their budgeted resources are in use).
2. Most profitable business lines. Many providers get into a vertical market (like residential property management) because they have an “in”. But once they build their complete solution, they may realize another vertical is more profitable, and lose interest in the old market. Outside of the cloud, this results in inferior support. Inside the cloud, this results in customers being dropped entirely with no recourse.
What is HERO PM’s role in the cloud?
HERO PM has always been a cloud computing provider. That’s all we’ve ever done. So why are we exposing the risks of the cloud? Two reasons:
1. We’ve always done it differently; more safely. Read the next section for more on this.
2. As property managers migrate more of their critical business operations data to the cloud – data like their accounting records – the business risk increases dramatically. It’s one thing to temporarily lose access to an online listing, it’s an entirely different thing to lose your owners’ accounting data.
As we move into the next generation of cloud computing, we’re going even further…
HERO PM believes in the concept of a hybrid cloud.
In the hybrid cloud, you keep certain data (data that is irreplaceable or mission critical) in your own “private cloud”. That is, you don’t trust an outside provider or an Internet connection with the data that you absolutely cannot afford to lose or be denied access to. This eliminates most of the risk of the cloud, but gains little benefit of the cloud.
The benefit comes from having non-mission critical data, and a copy of certain mission critical data, in the cloud. This is the hybrid nature – what you should control, you control. You cannot lose this data; nobody can take it from you. What you need to extend outside of your private cloud is either input or copied to the public cloud.
With the hybrid cloud, it’s all upside. You have the best of a web-based solution, and the best of a local solution. A business should expect no less.
For over 10 years, HERO PM has provided this functionality. When it comes to marketing data and other data that is not absolutely essential to the minute-by-minute functioning of your business, you enter it into HERO PM. But with accounting data; the data that you need minute-by-minute access to and cannot afford to lose, you manage that locally and the local software sends a copy of itself to the cloud.
Our partnership with PROMAS works exactly this way. No accounting software is more accurate or more reliable than PROMAS. Once you have a licensed copy of PROMAS on your private cloud, nobody can deny you access to your data. You’ll never lose it. But some data needs to be in the public cloud – things like owner activity and statements. In our model, your local software publishes this data to the cloud – being selective about what needs to be there – and making it painless for you as a user.
For 15 years, HERO PM has been absolutely reliable as a cloud provider. We’ve never dropped a customer because they use too many resources. We’ve always kept our prices low, even when we reached a high level of market saturation and could have easily increased them. HERO PM has always been a trusted cloud provider – the only trusted cloud provider in residential property management – and we will continue to be.
How is HERO PM staying ahead of other cloud providers?
In our next generation online software, we’re extending the concept of a hybrid cloud even further. We’ve always provided ways to easily download your data from our cloud to your private cloud. As we continue, we’re providing even more ways to quickly and easily copy the data you’ve stored with us to your own storage. Why do we do this? Quite simply, because we’re not interested in keeping you because you have no other options, or because you have too much to lose by switching away. We will keep your business by providing the best product backed by the best service. Not just until we reach our investors’ goals (we are our investors!), but forever.
In the next generation, we are also providing offline access to the most recent version of essential data, where possible. Even without an Internet connection, you’ll be able to look up and save much of the data that typically lives in the public cloud. This is no replacement for keeping your essential data in your private cloud, as you still depend on us for the software. However, it addresses a multitude of connectivity issues, especially with mobile connectivity.
If you’re hearing about the cloud and wondering what to do, settle for nothing less than a hybrid cloud with a provider who has a long track record of serving your industry at a price you can afford. Contact our Member Support with questions.