Does every cloud have a silver lining

Once upon a time, actually in the mid-eighties, one of the major challenges facing computer vendors was the often repeated question, “but where is the ledger card?” For the benefit of those under 50, accounts systems used to operate on electro-mechanical machines with the ledgers existing on physical cards about 18” by 24”, looking like an oversized typewriter. In fact the very early ones were based on typewriters, Olivetti, Burroughs and NCR being some of the notable ones.

The mental difficulty arose because partners and fee-earners could see and touch the physical card and the fear was that once the cards disappeared into the computer thing in the corner all access to them could be lost forever. That they could be printed and re-printed at will, took some time to grasp. A welcome bi-product of this was that the new “card”, albeit now printed on green striped music ruled paper, could be taken out of the cash office, hitherto definitely not allowed by the dragon cashier. This of course was before screens on desks made the physical presence of a ledger card unnecessary.

The parallel fear was loss of data and back-ups became the new obsession, copies taken off-site etc. No acknowledgement was made to the fire risks inherent in previously having a single source of information on paper that could not be taken off site.

Which brings us up to date, are we seeing a parallel in the advent of data not being stored on a computer thing in the corner but in the “cloud”? Where is the cloud and do we really need to know where it is?

Cloud or earlier named hosted solutions rely on data and programs being stored elsewhere but operated on from your own desktop. Does it matter where the data physically sits? Where, does not matter but who is chosen to host and protect the data does matter. When considering a back-up strategy for your own computers is important, it is doubly so when considering who to trust to care for your data when it is not under your direct control. What back-up systems are in place should a disaster strike?

The second, but no less important, issue is to look at the availability of access to your data, what guarantees do you have of speed and up time from your supplier? Have they the knowledge, experience and financial stability to support your business critical activities?

But is the cloud really a new idea? Not really, 25 years ago big companies rented out time on their mainframe systems to smaller companies in need of applications such as payroll accessed by dial up modem. Was that so different to what we are seeing today.

The cloud can have a silver lining but only if sensible precautions are taken to ensure a user service at least as good as an in-house solution.

We, at Linetime can offer all of our software solutions in the traditional in-house model, in the cloud or as a fully managed service.