The cloud is a marketing term used by technology companies to describe the accessing of software through a browser in one location where the actual software and data are stored in another location.
The cloud is not new. The first versions of this were running in the 1970s in the early days of computing.
In a small business retail sense, there were retailers in the 1990s operating this way. Indeed, Tower Systems had customers as early 1999 running in the cloud.
While technology has refined, the principles have not.
On a server located away from your business runs your software with your data. From your retail location you access this through a web browser. Around ten years ago, in 2005, we ran four of our own shops in the cloud – none of the shops had our Retailer POS software or data on their computers. This was before the term cloud became a marketing term.
While the marketing of the cloud has been excellent, the business benefits have not been so great, especially for small business.
The cloud seems cheaper because there usually is no up front cost. Add up all costs over three years and a cloud based solution will in almost every case cost you more. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We mention it in case you prefer the cloud as a cost saving measure.
In terms of business commercial outcomes, a cloud based solution may not deliver you better business outcomes. Business outcomes depend on your engagement with the data collected and managed by your software. This is on you and has nothing to do with where your software and data are hosted.
You get out of your software what you put in and not because of how you access it.
To run in the cloud, you need a good and reliable host with quality data backup, speedy access and 24/7 support from your country of location. Too often this is not the case.