Everyone seems to have their own definition of cloud and hosted deployment options for business software. Both options are accessed through the Internet. To me they are very similar – hosted is off premise and is accessed through an Internet connection. They are really both one in the same; Cloud applications are hosted off premise and accessed through an Internet connection. However, as simple as this may sound there are many variables depending on whom you are talking to or what you are reading. Here is my definition based on years of working for an
Hosted applications are off site and are are typically something a business owns as an asset. The software was purchased and installed on a remote server. The software is accessed through a VPN (virtual private network), Remote Desktop/Terminal Services or Citrix. Most line of business applications are still considered client/server. This requires the software client to be installed on a workstation and is accessed through a client (workstation) link such as remote desktop, etc. The client or workstation installation is done on the hosted server and is set up by person or profile. These software applications are not typically web enabled and therefore require the network infrastructure needed to run the application such as a Terminal Server.
Cloud applications are in my mind any applications that are web-enabled, which means you do not need the client (workstation) installation. Only a server installation is needed and of course a device with an Internet connection for the end-user. No client installation is needed. No need to log into a program like Remote Desktop first. A lot of technology and work goes into taking an application relying on a workstation to a true web-enabled software that only needs an Internet browser to function. Many line of business applications are adding this functionality to their offering. Some products like
In the case of Dynamics GP 2013 this would be my interpretation of the deployment options:
To further complicate matters there are cloud options: Public, Private or Hybrid. I found this article from a Microsoft employee,
The biggest concern any business owner or decision maker should have is this: Are you willing to run your business through an Internet connection? What if your Internet goes down at the office? If your backup plan for an outage is to send folks home to work, then please be sure that, whatever application you decide on, everyone that will need remote access is set up properly. I would also have them test this connection and access from home prior to an emergency. One way to get around an Internet outage is to have a redundant connection. For example, we have a T1 with CBeyond. We also have a backup connection with Time Warner. You can get a much cheaper redundant option just to keep your critical staff working, but maybe not so great on the performance. Of course, this all depends on the thresholds needed for your business.
The other concern I would have as a business owner is validating at least once a week or a month that your off-site backup is happening at least daily and does contain a full server backup. I would be asking my IT service provider for a backup review of my data just to be sure I am really getting a backup… this would be required regardless of my application location; hosted or cloud. Don’t go cheap on your backup solution.