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The Cloud: What, Why, and How?

The Cloud: What, Why, and How?

6 minutes reading time (1224 words)

Many business owners approach the Internet and its options with a touch of uncertainty. We've all heard of "the cloud," but what exactly is it, and why should you trust your important business data to a place that you can't see or touch?

If you are in need of a safe, secure, and highly accessible location for your cemetery or funeral home's data, then maybe you should trust what the cloud has to offer. 

What is "the cloud"? 

Many definitions of the cloud seem to be long-winded and difficult to understand. But simply put, the cloud refers to secure, centralized computers that process requests and deliver data to users over the Internet.

For example, your email is in the cloud. While you access your email either through a browser or app intended specifically for email, anything you send or receive is actually stored in the cloud. And it's not just text. Any attachments that you include or insert into an email, including documents, pictures, videos, and more, are all now in the cloud. Imagine you upload an image of a burial service and send it to a family via email. But then your laptop breaks, and you lose that image. You can simply use a different computer to go back to the previously sent email and retrieve the file, as it is now stored in the cloud. You – and whoever you sent it to – can access it when they want to.

How does "the cloud" work? 

When understanding how the cloud works, it's important first to understand the phrase "software as a service" because it's fundamental to the concept. "SaaS" means applications that are available in the cloud on-demand, often procured via a subscription. These applications are fully functional in their own right. You won't need anything else to set them up as all the details the servers, the databases, the network setup, and everything else – are taken care of by the provider, completely invisible to the customer. Instead, the customer is provided with a unique web address from which they can access the software just by opening a web browser, and they are ready to start.

Why should you use "the cloud"? 

Storing your data in the cloud offers your cemetery or funeral home many new options and benefits. Advantages of using the cloud include cost, flexibility, accessibility, and security.

What are the benefits? 

The most important, and most obvious, reason to use the cloud is that it makes financial sense for your business. Users have access to high-performance software at a lower cost because they're sharing the space with multiple users. While many people might do the math and determine that it is cheaper to buy an on-premise server than pay monthly subscription costs, they may not be factoring in the prices for upgrades, maintenance, and even factors like electricity.

Along with the financial benefits, the cloud provides the convenience of flexibility. As your cemetery or funeral home grows, you can adjust your subscription based on your capacity or capability needs—all with very little effort on your part.

Another advantage of using the cloud is accessibility. You may keep several filing cabinets in the back office to handle all of the information that you deal with every year, but this is unnecessary with the cloud. It can safely and securely hold all of that data without the necessity of keeping a paper copy on site. You can quickly and efficiently pull up a single record or search a whole section of your cemetery, all with a few computer clicks. Plus, this reduces the chance of filing errors, like when you accidentally filed the 'Smyth' records under 'Smith.'

The cloud is highly accessible in yet another way. The past year saw many companies transition to stay-at-home work schedules due to the global pandemic. Those that were already using cloud-based management software had it much easier in this respect. Staff could continue working from home without missing a beat, accessing the software, and all of their data via the cloud.

Using the cloud for data storage also offers an attractive benefit of safety from data loss. Your data is highly valuable to your company. However, your computer has a limited lifespan that is measured in years, not decades. Typically there's no warning that your computer is about to die. When it does, you'll lose everything you have on it unless you back it up, which you can do with the cloud.

Storing data in the cloud also means that it's safe from disaster—not just from fire or another major calamity—but from Jane who accidentally spills her Coke across her desk or from Bob with his bad habit of misfiling paperwork. In the cloud, your data is all in one centralized location, is automatically backed up, and is protected from natural disasters or other interruptions.

When stored in the cloud, your data is also highly secure from cyber attacks. While cloud servers might offer a tempting target to cybercriminals, cloud service providers are highly trained and financially backed to prevent such a breach. Individual office computers have a higher risk of being compromised than data managed by cloud storage companies.

What are the challenges? 

We can't say that the cloud is without its share of challenges. For instance, with cloud storage, you rely heavily on your internet connection. Everyone in the office and all remote workers will need a reliable internet connection with reasonably fast speed and acceptable bandwidth. You're at the mercy of your internet provider, and if you experience an internet outage, you will be without access to your data until your provider repairs the issue. However, it's important to realize that almost every business must rely to some extent on the Internet, so this challenge is not unique to cloud users.

A commonly perceived challenge is that of the amount of control you maintain. This is a myth and can be easily mitigated. Be sure that you fully understand the terms of your agreement with the cloud provider to learn the degree of control you have over the system and service. It is important to note that when you move to the cloud, you still maintain full ownership of all of your data, at all times, forever. You also retain control over who is using your system and what is done with your data. 

So, how do you get into "the cloud"? 

The cloud is everywhere today. Zoom has become a noun, verb, and adjective, as well as a household name ever since the pandemic changed the workforce. What is Zoom but cloud meetings? Dropbox is ultimately just cloud storage. Netflix? Cloud movies. The cloud is everywhere, and you probably already use cloud-based apps regularly – they have become so ubiquitous that nobody gives them a second thought.

It has never been easier or safer to transition your business' data to the cloud. And because your cemetery or funeral home's data can be more accessible, safer, and more efficient using a cloud-based system, now is the time to switch. Get in touch with us today to talk about how cloud-based cemetery or funeral home management software could work for you.

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Tuesday, 26 October 2021

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