Cloud computing has been the “next big thing” for close to fifteen years. I first wrote about it back in 1999 when it was called ASP (Application Service Provider). Why it has taken so long to actually catch on is an interesting study, never the less with the entrance of Henry Schein and Dentrix Ascend into the cloud in dentistry we may finally see online “cloud” computing become main stream.
The name Cloud refers to the fact that the application is processed not on your local server but off in the Internet at a remote server that is usually shown as a cloud as in the diagram shown here.
When I wrote about ASPs back in 1999. I listed seven advantages. They are still valid.
- Lower startup costs, you do not buy the software, you merely subscribe to it.
- Lower hardware costs as you only need low-end computers, or even non computer “dumb” terminals (also called thin client) a network router and a hi-speed internet connection.
- You will have none of the current software/hardware conflicts seen in offices running different software versions over various different network configurations.
- Upgrades and software maintenance will be easier. All users will be using the exact same version and only the software at the remote server will need to be upgraded. And it can be upgraded at any time with out the need for the massive release of a new version.
- Dental practices with multiple office locations will all have access to the same database. In addition the data can be accessed from any web device including the doctors home computer or even a mobile handheld computer. You can even authorize patients, colleagues, third parties and team members access to information which you deem appropriate.
- There will be no need to backup data and take it off site for safety. It will be stored on a remote server so all data will be sent off site instantly and stored in a secure and redundant fashion. The remote server will have all the latest in data protection including anti hacker security and antivirus systems, which the local user often neglects.
- There will be less “noise” in the office. That is one less thing the doctor and staff need to worry about keeping up with, fixing and supporting.