Since announcing that we now have our first client operating his business using our brand new cloud software, we’ve received a lot of questions, and we’re listening! We’ve put together the below FAQs to help our current and future customers better understand our new cloud capability, when to expect it to be available to different agency types, and some more detailed product information.
We hope this helps answer your questions. Make sure you also register to receive regular updates and to take part in our user feedback groups or be considered for early adoption.
What is the cloud, where is it, and how does it work?
In the simplest terms, cloud computing is storing and accessing your information, documents, data and programs over the internet. The term “cloud” came from the fact that the internet was represented by a cloud icon in computer network diagrams over the last 20 or so years. Typically cloud computing will replace the use of the storage on your computer’s hard drive, or a server in the office.
“The cloud” isn’t in cyberspace, ultimately your data is securely stored on the physical server of the organisation who’s cloud you choose to use and pay for. Many companies offer cloud services now, for example, iCloud is owned by Apple, Azure is owned by Microsoft, AWS Cloud is owned by Amazon, Google Cloud is owned by Google. Console’s Cloud platform will be hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud.
Is my information secure in the AWS Cloud?
Your data is more secure in the cloud than on your computer’s hard drive or in your local server. Console has built Console Cloud with security in mind from the very start. We use a number of highly reputable cyber-security firms to provide security advice and penetration-testing to ensure that the highest levels of security are maintained at all times. Data in the cloud is protected from malicious viruses and attacks, such as crypto-locker, that may affect your local network.
Is Console Cloud the same as Console Gateway, but just on the internet?
No. The product has been redesigned from the ground up, starting with trust accounting and reconciliation and growing out from there. Our focus has been on designing the software to provide the capabilities that you need to perform your job in the most efficient and intuitive manner.
Over the last 12 to 18 months we’ve engaged with a wide variety of property managers, government bodies and regulators to ensure that we have built the best product that we can for you, our client. Console Cloud is a complete re-imagining of how property management software should help you, using the experience that the last 26 years have given us.
Will moving to the Cloud reduce my computer’s storage area?
No, it will free up space for you! Storing data or running programs on your hard drive (called local storage) means that you can only access the information or programs from that physical computer itself (locally). When you upgrade your Gateway database to Console Cloud, all of your information will be stored in the Cloud, meaning that you won’t need to store the information on your computer’s hard drive anymore, and any new information you enter will go straight into the cloud and not onto your hard drive.
What are the benefits of moving to the Cloud?
By upgrading to Console Cloud, you’ll enjoy a number of benefits:
- Efficiency – how you can better manage more properties, more cost-effectively, with the same number of staff;
- Communication – how you can better communicate with your staff, your tenants, your landlords and your suppliers;
- IT systems – all you need is a web-browser, so you can do away with the expensive and complex servers that you previously needed to run Gateway;
- Availability – we’ve fixed end of month… no more locking users out of the software for hours to run end of month
- But wait, there’s more – there’s alway more. We’re building an exciting new range of capabilities, but we’ll tell you more about those when the time is right.
From an operational perspective: Changes and new information entered on the platform is updated in real time, so if you’re on site and update tenant or property details using our app on your tablet or smartphone, someone back in the office will have access to that updated information immediately.
GIVE ME A TIMELINE
What are the release dates?
We’re undertaking a phased approach to our cloud upgrades, and identifying clients that match specific criteria in terms of the capabilities that they use and then inviting those clients to upgrade to Console Cloud. Later this year, towards third quarter we will be looking to start bringing on “typical” agencies, with capability to support larger, more complex agencies available in fourth quarter.
When can I test the product?
If you jump onto our website and register to be part of our Console Cloud user feedback group or an early adopter, you’ll then be on our database and we will contact you periodically to ask if you would like to participate in user feedback group sessions. These sessions could include online surveys, interactive webinars or on-premise forums that look at prototype screens. The idea is that you get to give feedback directly to our User Experience (UX) team and influence what we are building for you.
We’re inviting limited numbers to our beta testing program each month. Our user feedback groups also see prototypes and demos to help shape the conversation.
When can I register for the Cloud?
While we’re building the platform, you can help us qualify your business by filling out our survey, and our product team will be in touch when our Cloud capability reaches a stage where we’re confident that your agency will have a superior experience with no hiccups, and we’ll invite you on board.
Is moving to the Cloud mandatory? If so, when do I have to move?
No. If you don’t think you’re ready to upgrade to the Cloud just yet, that’s fine. We know that many of our users will continue to use the Gateway product that they know and love, and we have every intention to continue to support the Gateway product into the future for those who aren’t ready to upgrade. Of course, we think you’ll be thrilled to upgrade when you see all the exciting new features we’re building!
Is Console going to have the Cloud available to all users by the end of this year?
No, not all users. We expect that by the end of 2017 we will have most of our smaller boutique agency clients and the typical 300 property rent rolls who have requested it upgraded to Console Cloud. Throughout December and into the new year, our focus will be on larger agencies with more complex capabilities and requirements.
I’ve been using Console software for YEARS, can I be first onto the Cloud?
Sorry, you can’t be the first – our first client is already there!!
Because of the phased approach we’re undertaking in our beta Cloud release, we need to qualify agencies based on their requirements in this very early stage (things like number of PUMs, current processes, users etc). This helps us understand what you need, and whether upgrading to the cloud platform right now is the best option for you. Our platform will be ready for everyone eventually, but in these early stages we will be inviting clients based on their requirements to make sure we’re helping your business, not giving you a product that isn’t suited to your business just yet.
How will my current Gateway platform be different to the Cloud platform?
Console Cloud is a completely new product. It has been designed and tested to be extremely user-friendly, intuitive and easy to use. Ultimately Console Cloud will provide your business with the same capability (e.g. Rent Receipting) that Console Gateway gives you, but it will do that in a very different way.
What if I implement the Cloud based software and I don’t like it, can I go back?
Sure you can. The upgrade won’t delete any data on the Gateway servers in your office. But we are confident that you that you will like the new Cloud platform very much, and soon you’ll wonder how you ever worked without it!
How many properties can you manage with Console Cloud?
There’s no limit to the number of properties that you can manage with Console Cloud. The advantage of cloud platforms is that they scale and grow with your business, without the need for you to upgrade your hardware.
The number that we are more interested in here at Console is how many properties can you manage at once. We are working to move the properties per property manager ratio from an industry average of 85 to 100 per PM, to 200 or 300 per PM, all whilst making you a happier, less stressed property manager.
How does licensing work when we move to Console Cloud?
We’ll announce our pricing in due course. What we can say now is that you won’t pay more for your software license for Console Cloud than you pay for Gateway today.
INTEGRATION & IMPLEMENTATION
I have a few offices, will the Cloud be implemented all at once?
You’ll have the choice to upgrade all of your offices at the same time, or you might choose to take a more cautious approach and pilot in one of your offices first. The upgrade will be available to all of your offices, and you’ll be able to see the benefit of consolidating all your data in the one place, but we’ll take your advice on the way that you’d prefer to approach your own upgrade.
I’m a current customer of Console using a terminal server connection for remote accessibility, how will Cloud change this?
Console Cloud will simplify your connection experience, all you need is a web browser. You won’t need to worry about hosting server environments (the cost or complexity), or remote access, Citrix, VPNs or anything else that terminal server solutions entail. Simply open a browser on your desktop, laptop or tablet, log into Console Cloud with your email address and your office(s) will be there.
Does Console Cloud also deal with the sales component that we use currently?
We intend to support the leading sales, CRM and listings products. We will provide more detailed information about these when the time is right
Will I need training to use the Cloud platform?
Console Cloud has been designed (and tested) to be extremely intuitive and user-friendly. Most common and basic functions you’ll be able to jump straight in and find your way around without training, but we are building an extremely comprehensive training solution too – so if you’re not so confident you will have excellent support and training resources available to you.
Can you do the cloud upgrade over the weekend so my business isn’t affected?
Yes, we most certainly can – whatever works best for you and your business.
PRICING & COMPARISON
What will Console Cloud cost compared to my current subscription?
We’ll announce our pricing in due course. What we can say now is that you won’t pay more for your software license for Console Cloud than you pay for Gateway today
What are the differences between PropertyMe/PropertyTree and Console Cloud?
Console Cloud is a different product to PropertyMe/PropertyTree, just like PropertyMe is a different product to PropertyTree.