Tech Takes - Is There a Cloud Over Your Computer?

Fall 2012

Cloud computing is not the wave of the future, it’s the present. You are probably using the cloud right now if you are using social media or have a Gmail account.

Cloud computing is all around us, but it typically refers to computing that is sold as a metered resource that people or companies can purchase, much like electricity is purchased from a utility, according to Barrie Sosinsky, author of “Cloud Computing Bible” (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2011).

“In assessing the different computer services available, it boils down to three models,” he explained. “Purchasing computer hardware, software or developing  software using various environments offered by others.”

The key benefit of cloud computing for companies large and small is the ability to get the hardware or software needed at a low cost or a fixed price over a period of time. The user has the ability to scale the service, which means he or she can start off very small and, if the business grows, “right-size” the computer service.

For many years, Microsoft was a leader in shrink-wrapped software, but increasingly less of its business is “software in a box.” Microsoft is replacing the ubiquitous Microsoft Office with Microsoft Office 365, which is used online while the application is run somewhere else. Microsoft wants to change its business model to sell the software on a monthly subscription basis, rather than as a one-time purchase.
Is cloud computing smart for the small real estate company? “You can get started with software for little money and then scale it to size as the business grows,” suggested Sosinsky. “The drawback is that the security model standards for the cloud have not been fully worked out at this point. Any network data can be compromised. Vendors work hard on the security model, but there are always possibilities for data integrity issues.”

It’s crucial to maintain a back-up copy of the data locally, and that goes for data created in the cloud. A back-up file ensures that if the vendor’s server goes down or it loses the data, the information is still available. Sosinsky warned to check for vendor “lock-in” in cloud computing. That is where the vendor uses a data format that cannot be removed from the system. Any information created online or in the cloud is data that must be able to be extracted from the system. “Frankly, I would not get involved with a service that doesn’t allow for exporting the data to a local system or getting it out in a standard file format,” he said. An example of being able to easily move data would be using Intuit Quickbooks online and then downloading and saving the data as a Microsoft Excel file.

The Angus Mobility Platform

Angus Systems, Toronto, Ontario, Canada has been a leader in mobile work order management systems since the introduction of its Angus for BlackBerry application in 2000. Now, the company is offering the Angus Mobility Platform that will support virtually any mobile device, including iPhone, iPad, Android or even a basic cell phone, to keep mobile managers, building engineers, techs and vendors on the same page.

The Angus Mobility Platform allows users to interact with the Angus System while connected to cellular data networks or when offline, which is a critical feature when cell phone coverage is spotty. The system consists of four distinct technologies that provide the ability to connect many users and devices common to commercial real estate organizations: Angus Mobile™ Message; Mobile for BlackBerry®; Mobile Lite; and Mobile Touch. These systems enable wireless and paperless work efficiencies in all mobile environments. Pricing for the various Angus systems depends on the square footage of the facility or portfolio covered by the system, according to Maria Bo, marketing manager, Angus Systems.

For more information

Cloud Computing Bible  
Angus Systems