Cloud-based software, and anything that refers to the cloud, can be a somewhat confusing term, but it doesn’t have to be confusing! Let’s take a quick look at the evolution of software and how we have arrived to present cloud-based solutions.
Years ago, when you wanted to purchase common consumer software, you had to visit an electronics store to purchase software that came in a glossy cardboard box with a CD, product key, and manual. You would insert the CD into your computer and run the application installer on your local computer. Once completed, the software now resides on your computer and uses your computer resources to process all of your commands. This is why software manufacturers had minimum recommended hardware standards related to memory, disk space, processing speed, graphics card, and other notable specifications.
Those days are practically gone, and though there are still limited instances where you can purchase software at a store, the overwhelming majority of software sales occur online-only. Software companies are able to realize efficiencies through customer support, data analytics, and scalability in this new cloud model.
The most condensed, simple definition of the cloud is the internet. Cloud computing is when application functions are completed using remote computers, via the cloud, and displayed for you to see. So this means that cloud-based software refers to software that you access, and functions, entirely online. Many cloud-based software products also function offline in a hybrid model, and then send and receive updates once connected again to the internet.
Cloud-based software has created many advantages for both the software company and the consumer. For the software company, they can now manage, test, and make changes to their platform instantly, while also supporting it instantly with one common set of definitions. No more asking which software version, update edition you are running, because all users are on the same limited set of options. Consumers benefit from reduced infrastructure costs, no longer purchasing special-use servers for these applications and hiring staff to maintain them. Consumers also benefit from instant add/drop licensing, without having to harvest product keys and software serial numbers from older computers.
Cloud-based software, with monthly subscription fees, will be the dominant force in the software industry. The days of one-time purchases of software will fade and be replaced with monthly licensing fees based on the number of users and type of licenses assigned.
If you are looking for help identifying practical cloud-based software solutions for your organization and need help deciding between options, please contact us so we can advise you on your next steps.