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Still foggy on what cloud computing actually means? Here’s the definitive guide to what it means to be in the cloud, and why it’s such a big deal.
Cloud software is...
Cloud software is any software that lives on the internet. Instead of downloading a copy of a program (as you might with say, Microsoft Word), cloud-based software is accessed in a web browser. Gmail, internet banking, YouTube, Dropbox, CRMs, WordPress and anything else you log into online—all these applications are a form of cloud computing. If you’ve ever uploaded an image to Instagram or Facebook, you’ve already used cloud computing. Like these platforms, Console Cloud operates inside a web browser, to give you a similar experience.
Sure, but what is ‘the cloud’ then?
A cloud in software terms refers to the server or servers where your information is stored. Servers are the backbones of the internet: they’re essentially farms of dedicated computer hard drives that are used solely to process data.
The main thing to keep in mind is that anything sent to the cloud is not saved on your own computer. It’s saved securely on remote servers managed by the cloud software company.
Why would storing files on a remote server be a good thing?
For a start, you now have unlimited storage space for applications, and you can take it with you anywhere. If you’ve ever run out of database space or waited 10 minutes for your computer to start up, you’ll know the pains of limited storage. These perks aside, real estate agencies benefit from moving to the cloud in a number of ways. Let's look at some of them now:
1. Kiss capital expenditure goodbye
Since most cloud software is subscription-based, you’ll usually get a better deal on the products you need. No more massive upfront program costs, and no more paying for internal servers. Premium laptops with loads of storage? Not needed.
2. Work wherever you are
In real estate, your car is your second office. That’s why cloud software is revolutionising the industry: it’s allowing agents to access their work at the same network speeds they would, wherever they are, with full access to everything they need. All agents need is a device (such as a phone or laptop) and an internet connection.
3. ‘Windows will restart your computer in one minute’
No! Exactly zero people like being interrupted by Windows and iTunes updates.
Happily, when you use cloud-based programs, you’ll never have to restart or stop what you’re doing. Since the servers used for cloud computing are off-site, any new features to your software will be rolled out to you automatically, so you don’t have to worry about not being on the latest version. You'll never have to restart, or update manually while you're using a cloud computing product.
And does this mean lower IT costs and fewer outlays? Why yes, yes it does.
4. One application to rule them all
We know document control and multiple users on a program can be problematic for property managers. If you've ever had to clear everyone out of Gateway for EOM, you'll know what we're talking about.
Previously, the more people you had working on files, the greater the risk for document control errors. Cloud software, on the other hand, allows as many people as you need working on your files simultaneously. It outfoxes document control issues by updating information in real time for all users.
5. Increased security and back-ups
It might sound like a paradox, but saving your files to a remote server means they are more secure. How? Losing a laptop no longer means losing your data. Better still, cloud-based software allows you to wipe data remotely from lost devices and laptops, so your work doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Moreover, in an environment of weather extremes such as Australia, the ability to recover from natural disasters is a must. Should the worst happen and your office floods, you may lose your carpet, but your precious data is safe.
6. Enterprise-grade access to smaller agencies
Finally, since most cloud-based software is subscription-based and cheaper, huge outlays are no longer needed to keep up with the real estate giants. This allows smaller agencies to be nimble and quick, and compete in bigger leagues on a smaller budget.
This is why cloud software is such a big deal
Cloud products work out cheaper for agencies. They save everyone document control and storage headaches. They minimise the fuss of data security, of updates and of downtime. Staff can access their work anywhere they need to. They can protect their data against disasters. Smaller agencies can compete with the big players, thanks to easier access to enterprise-grade software.
Even picking any two of these benefits might be enough to sway some agencies to make the switch. But all six? That makes the decision easy.