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However, you have to look closely at the pricing plans and details for each application. There are fewer bells and whistles, so to speak, and the developers of many cloud computing apps have created just the basics that customers need to get the specific job done.

Rackspace, a hosting provider, has over 1, SaaS apps in its new AppMatcher. Cloud Computing Solutions are available all the time — no matter where you are. For some business users that operate virtual offices or operate remotely on different machines depending on location and they need the application to be accessible from a web browser. That is one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing— it is available wherever you have access to a computer and browser.

If you are not connected and operating your laptop offline, does the program offer a way to run it offline and synchronize when you are connected again? Many apps have either a mobile app or a widget you can download and run a lighter version of the software. For example, some Google Apps offer a desktop version called Google Gears, which will sync your data when you are back online. Google Apps, by the way, has over two 2 million businesses and 25 million users in its cloud computing marketplace; including companies like Smartsheet and Batchbook , just to name a couple.

Sometimes simple, focused cloud computing solutions will do the trick. Do you use all the features of your desktop app? For example, a billing solution might let you run an unlimited number of invoices, but for only 2 separate clients. You can find a range of great applications at The Small Business Web. It offers a terrific directory of cloud based applications from accounting to versioning. But you can also integrate it with other financial SaaS apps to do more with it. Read the Outright Review. Many organizations are worried about the associated privacy and security risks that a cloud computing system brings when vital information is made accessible to a third party.

However, check the details to fulfill any legal, financial, or ethical concerns.

Your cloud computing vendor is not responsible for your data, your security, your data privacy. They may promise certain aspects of security, but if you are a financial institution, for example, the buck stops with you when the regulators come calling. He simply purchased eight new computers and was up and running in minutes, thanks to the cloud services he used, which included Salesforce. Are you sure you want to invest your cash in this particular cloud computing software vendor? How long have they been in business? How many customers do they have? Can you talk to users directly?

You can sometimes read the testimonials and get good information and if the testimonials are real, they will often link to the person who made the comment. While those individuals do not expect to be contacted by every interested prospect of a cloud computing app vendor, you may be able to talk to some of them. Do a search on Twitter or Facebook or Yelp.

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  8. Twitter is probably the best, though. Many customer support departments are on Twitter to catch complaints or problems and try to solve them quickly. You can observe that comment stream by using Twitter Search. Tom Fisher, in a guest blog post at Sandhill. Most are in the range of How quickly do they fix the problem? They know how important their service is to customers.

    Is there an extra charge for support and maintenance or is that included in your monthly subscription fee? It is usually included, but like any purchase, read the fine print. Check if you have access to a customer support team via phone, email, or social media. Your monthly fees are dependent usually on how many users you have. In terms of scaling with your needs, cloud computing is one elegant way to do that. Read more about how cloud computing can scale your business. Cloud computing applications get updated and improved regularly and you benefit from every improvement without additional direct cost and without the effort of downloading and configuring upgrades.


    Enhancements tend to happen more quickly and in shorter development cycles and often occur based on customer requests. However, a downside for some companies is they fear they would lose the flexibility that the on-premise software model provides. With cloud computing apps, the development of upgrades or new features it is often up to the vendor.

    You may lose some deeper functional tools you get with a desktop app. In some cases, such as online retailing, you want a cloud computing application because it changes with the marketplace. If your need involves some sort of integration, then cloud computing might be for you. For example, you might find an accounting package that ties into a CRM package. If you wanted to do this with you current desktop application, you would have to pay someone to customize both apps for you. A web-based app might have already done it for you and it would save you both time and money.

    When it comes to cloud computing and particularly app integration, the TechAisle study highlighted that 26 percent of small businesses have heard about cloud computing from their channels, while only 13 percent have heard about it from an IT company. How quickly do you need a solution?

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    Do you need something right now? If rapid deployment is integral to your project, cloud computing offers a definite advantage. Many cloud computing products are up in running in hours, if not minutes.

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    You may not get every feature set configured to your need, but you can often start working right out of the gate. Something else to consider: Traditional and larger software purchases usually start with a request for proposal RFPs , design, development, testing and negotiations. All that can take months.

    Where and how should our organization consume cloud computing services?

    With most cloud computing systems, the customer can generally see the application working during the trial period, and return on investment ROI happens more quickly. If cash-flow is an issue, cloud computing applications may be a perfect option. On-premise software purchases often involve high upfront licensing costs. With cloud computing apps, there are usually no large up-front licensing fees requiring departmental or board approval.

    Most of the time, there are no annual maintenance fees, either. SaaS pricing is often transparent and clear on a website pricing page. Generally, if a cloud computing app vendor does not reveal its pricing or requires a demo, it means it is a more complicated solution that demands some installation process or customization that will cost you more upfront.

    Again, that is a generalization, but what we often see when do product reviews. Cloud computing applications are not always cheaper than on-premise desktop software. Gartner says it can be true that cloud computing solutions are less expensive during the first two years, but may not be for a five-year total cost of ownership TCO. With no initial large investment into cloud based applications, that makes sense. They suggest that you should expect to see your TCO rising in the third year and beyond.

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    4. Hire or enlists local IT talent to develop, test, debug, deploy and train personnel on the new application. Continue using the older version of the software and avoid any advantages that an upgraded version might bring. It just offers another way to solve your software challenges. In both cases, you are waiting for software changes to be made by the software company, but in the cloud computing model you typically see those upgrades faster than with a desktop application. The vendor applies upgrades at the data center.

      The upgrades are made available to users immediately via online connection and there are only minor delays. The upgrades also come at no cost to the user. This is important to emphasize: Your monthly fee covers the upgrades, so when you compare pricing you need to consider this.

      If you upgrade every year, then the monthly outlay may be lower from a total cost perspective over time. With a desktop application, you are waiting until the next release, which often only occurs annually. Cloud based applications can be less robust by nature of their focus on a particular area or business niche. For example, Shoebox does…bookkeeping only.

      Some pundits argue that you have to operate your business, from a software perspective, using the Pareto Principle 80 per cent of the effects come from 20 per cent of the solution , however, this is not entirely accurate. Most desktop users routinely state that they do not use all of the features of a desktop application.

      Cloud Computing & Hosting

      This is part of how many cloud based applications get developed; taking aim at the core problems that users face instead of offering an overwhelming feature set that most users will never even try. Even if the cloud computing application does not have every feature you need, you often can add it via customization or premium levels of vendor service.

      Most well-designed cloud computing systems offer extensive interface capability, usually via Web services that integrate both internal and hosted systems. Each application provider is different, of course, and your specialized functions may not be available even with integration and configuration. There are two primary methods of integrating cloud computing apps. Once this initial data load has been made, data can be incrementally synchronized on a scheduled basis. The second method is real-time integration via Web services, which is like a neutral middle layer where your application talks to the cloud computing company.

      Some gaps remain for complex, end-to-end processes that require complicated workflows or business processes. All of this section on goals leads us to scalability: Will your cloud computing vendor allow for future organizational evolution and code customizations? For many reasons, you should keep your lead technical people in the loop for security and integration issues. One of the challenges with cloud computing is that applications and services are now easily accessible to business end-users, who can acquire these Software-as-a-Service capabilities without input from their IT or data management teams.

      Cloud integrations can be complicated by other, related problems, such as data replication, outages and the hassles of outsourced data storage.

      Programming languages for cloud computing

      Good cloud computing companies have built their apps on a Web-services based architecture. Sometimes these standards could inadvertently create security problems. While these standards make it easier for companies to integrate services, it also could give the keys to the kingdom away to hackers if the proper security is not in place.