Cloud Computing or Locally Managed Systems

Choosing to use cloud based or locally managed systems involves thinking about more than just hype.

June 28, 2023

Cloud computing has changed many businesses. The benefits of not having to maintain your own hardware can be significant. Our Integrated Software for Business runs both in the cloud and on locally managed computers. We have found that the challenges our customers face usually result in preferring local systems over cloud computing.

Data control

The biggest issue our customers typically face is needing complete control over their data, particularly those in the aerospace and defense industries. They require that data systems are isolated in defined and auditable ways from all other internet connected systems. Even for our customers in other industries without such strict requirements, local computing has given them peace of mind over who has access to their data.

Managing backups

As I mentioned in my article about our experience helping a customer through disaster recovery, backups are critical. Even with cloud services, backups are still required. Remember, backups serve two purposes: protecting from data loss due to hardware failure and protecting from data loss due to user error and other events. Cloud computing really only helps with the first category of data loss, i.e. that due to hardware failure. But our experience shows that backups are needed much more often for the second category. Users make mistakes far more often than hardware fails. Sometimes these mistakes require restoring from a backup. This makes regular backups critical on both local systems and in the cloud.

Where these backups are kept is just as important and making them in the first place. On an entirely cloud based system, those backups could be kept in the cloud as well. However, this means that ultimately the business does not control the data, and we are back to my first point. In addition, such cloud-only backups assume internet access. In a disaster recovery scenario, such access may not be available.

In light of the above considerations, our customers have found that making local backups is the best solution. As that is the case, a cloud based solution loses some of its appeal.

Reducing outages

One of the biggest advantages of a cloud based system is that a dedicated team of professionals is doing what they do best: taking care of the computer hardware that the cloud runs on. This reduces outages due to hardware failure thanks to the automatic fail-over technology employed by cloud providers. This is done so well that it is transparent to the users. It is awesome technology.

Despite this, cloud providers still have outages. If the outage involves your system, you are suffering. Since a major reason for using cloud based technology is to gain the benefits of this awesome technology, the fact that outages happen tends to dim this otherwise bright prospect.

Even if the cloud provider itself is not experiencing any outages, events local to your business can still disrupt internet connectivity, making the cloud based system completely inaccessible. A backhoe or a traffic accident in the wrong place can mean a long and frustrating outage.

Locally based systems also have outages. Maintaining such systems requires trained staff. The advantage of local systems is that maintenance can be planned to occur at times that cause minimal or no disruption to your business. Planned outages are vastly preferable to unplanned outages. Planned outages result in expenses that can be budgeted for. Unplanned outages result in lost sales.

Flexible solutions

We solve these problems for our customers by providing flexible software. Our ISB business accounting system and the software behind it is ready for both the cloud and locally based systems. Data control, backups, and system maintenance tasks are decided by you and done according to the way that works best for your business.

Using a cloud based solution or keeping systems local is a decision that is best made by your business, not by your vendors. Your business accounting system need to work to your needs, not the other way around.