The pace of technological change is truly breathtaking. Computers that were state of the art 5 years ago are now almost dinosaurs. Not because they don't work well or that they are low quality....it's just that technology and the internet is changing. That dusty server in your office may have been "state of the art" 10 years ago, but now it's dangerously outdated. Why dangerous? They’re much easier to hack and significantly more likely to crash. And when it comes to triggering widespread panic in a veterinary practice, an aggressive dog or a loose cat has nothing on a server that crashed!
Cloud computing is the idea that the software that you use to run your practice no longer has to actually reside IN your practice. Instead of heavy, expensive, crash-prone servers and CPUs under every desk, cloud software resides on the internet. If this sounds totally strange and exotic, don't worry...this type of information management has been around for 10+ years. Ever bought something on Amazon.com? Rented a video on Netflix? Used Gmail? If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, you're already using cloud computing.
Why are more and more companies moving their data to "the cloud"?
1) Cost - Less power usage. Lower people costs. Zero capital costs. With cloud computing, there's no expensive hardware to purchase and MUCH lower support costs. Especially if you're having to pay an expensive IT consultant to keep your computers going, cloud software can save you a LOT of money.
2) Safety - Companies like rackspace.com and Amazon Web Services (AWS) do nothing BUT manage servers. And they're really good at it. In fact, they're so good at it that the data on the server in your hospital is MUCH more likely to get hacked/fail/crash than a cloud server is. That is just simple fact borne out by years of research and customer experience.
3) Reliability - 99.99% uptime according to Amazon Web Services (AWS). When factoring in the backup and redundancy that cloud providers offer (i.e. more than one server for your data), your odds of having significant server downtime is vanishingly low.
Cloud computing is really about flexibility. No longer are you forced to buy/maintain a big, expensive server to sit in the doctors' office and collect dust and pet hair. You don't have to worry that it's going to crash on a busy Saturday morning leaving everyone in a panic. In fact, staying with your current antiquated on-site server is a lot riskier than going to the cloud. It's more expensive and slower too. It's a shame that the "Big 3" veterinary practice management software providers have been so slow to take advantage of the cloud like virtually every other industry has. Cloud computing is now a proven mainstream alternative for veterinary practices, as companies like EzyVet are proving every day. The next time you're looking at upgrading your hospital software, do yourself and your team a favor and look into cloud software.