What Flooring Dealers Need to Know about Cloud Computing
What is Cloud Computing?
Admit it – you are hearing the term more and more these days. Since many businesses (including QFloors) are moving toward cloud computing models, we thought it might be a good idea to take the time to help you understand what that really means.
We live in a world where there is a need for instant access to information, no matter where you are. Cloud computing helps you do just that. Simply put, cloud computing is storing information and data somewhere other than your business or personal location. That means you don’t have to purchase expensive servers, have IT support in house, or worry about security, backing up, and virus issues.
How is Cloud Computing Set Up?
Currently there are two methods that are being implemented.
The first method is to store your information on a remote computer. Almost all operating environments (such as Unix and Microsoft Windows) have features that help transfer screen information back to remote users, while information is running on a computer in a centralized data center. The computer is accessed and controlled through provided software (Microsoft calls theirs Remote RDP or Remote Desktop Protocol).
However, there are a few drawbacks to this method. The screen display differs depending on your device. In addition, it is not designed for any touchscreen device. The operating environment and hardware are more costly. This method requires more speed and memory, making it sometimes cost up to 10x more than other methods.
That is why popularity is shifting towards the second method, which uses a native web application to run in a browser on your device and transfer the data back and forth. Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, Adobe, SAP, IBM – and all the big names are investing in this type of technology because they see it as the way computing will be done in the future. Because this method is an actual application that is running on your device, you have more control over how you display your information. It is is more cost efficient, easier to manage, and can be designed to be used on any device.
It is true that if the internet does go down, you lose access to your information. However, today that is becoming less of an issue because people can connect to the Internet in many diverse and affordable ways. You can connect through your phone, through your store’s network, at home, or any location where there is Wi-Fi (such as a coffee shop.) Some people use multiple internet providers for their store (i.e. a wireless and a wired/cable connection) to ensure they never go down. Since there are so many ways to connect to the internet, there’s little need to worry about not being able to access information.
The risk of losing complete access to data isn’t as high as it used to be. Not only are there more ways to connect to the internet, but the internet itself is continually becoming faster, more stable, and more available throughout the world. It will not be surprising to see that in the next 10 years, the internet will become second nature; similar to when everyone had an analog telephone line in their home.
Another concern that people often have is that they aren’t sure if their data is safe. They worry about cyber security. It’s all too common nowadays to turn on the news and hear about identify thefts and other incidents that happen due to electronic break-ins. The statistics say that if your computer is connected to the internet, every 7 minutes someone is probing your computer to see if they can access it. However, the risk of your computer being broken into is actually a lot lower than you think. Compare electronic break-ins to car thefts. It is less likely for your car to be stolen if it isn’t a highly valued model and if you use the security features such as the door locks or car alarms. The information that QFloors stores is not considered high-value to the outside world. In addition, those that are employed (by the cloud provider) to watch over your information are highly trained to utilize the latest and greatest security measures and protections. Because of this, there’s really not a reason to lose too much sleep worrying about it.
Where is QFloors heading with Cloud Computing?
Right now our cloud offering is the first option described above, which is controlling a computer remotely. Almost 20% of our clients have already moved to QCloud, and the rate at which this is occurring is speeding up each month. There is no question that this is where everything is headed.
We are excited to announce that we’re currently re-writing our software to change from remote-controlled to browser-based technology. This has been a huge project, requiring a lot of effort and resources. But we’re convinced it is what’s best for our customers.
Will QFloors still offer an on-premise (traditional server/LAN setup) for those who don’t want to go to cloud computing? The answer is yes, but the total cost of ownership will be more. Customers who have already purchased QFloors are welcome to stay on the current version, as long as it stays compatible with the newer versions of Microsoft Windows. (Something that Microsoft controls; not us.)
It is probable that our current QCloud customers will shift to this new product as soon as it becomes available. Overall, this method of cloud computing will require less money, less disk space, and less memory. You won’t have to pay licensing fees for Microsoft and meet its requirements, and it will cost less to maintain.
This has not been a small effort and has required significant investment of money. We are willing to create technology that many are unwilling to sacrifice to make, because we want to provide our customers with the highest quality of technology that’s out there.
By the end of the year, we will release our first Basic version of the browser-based QFloors 7. Other versions will follow. If you have any questions, please contact us.