How to Tell True Cloud-Based Software from Cloud Pretenders
As dental practice management software (PMS) in the cloud gains in popularity, many practices have begun to explore this growing trend. In reality, not all software that claims to be cloud-based really is. And, not all cloud-computing software is created equal.
How do we know?
We have dedicated the past 15 years developing Curve Hero, the dental industry’s first and most widely used cloud-based PMS. Our sole focus has been on Hero because we believe it is far superior to server-based software. Today over 70,000 dental professionals have come to depend on Curve to help them deliver a better patient experience and drive their practice’s profitability.
Defining Cloud Computing
Most dental professionals are familiar with the concept of the cloud, but they may be a bit short on specifics. A cloud is a network of remote servers that are used much like on-site servers. The difference—cloud servers are housed in an ultra-secure 3rd-party data center where your data, software, and platform are professionally managed. In Curve’s case, we use a top-tier Amazon Web Services data center where we automatically back-up and store patient data regularly, safely, and securely.
Traditional server-based computing places the responsibility for data management, software updates, and cybersecurity protection on the shoulders of an in-house team or outside consultant. The cloud computing provider removes that burden by managing all of these components, thus eliminating overhead and additional expense.
Let’s examine how to differentiate cloud computing providers from the pretenders.
Questions You Should Ask Software Providers Who Claim to Be in the Cloud
Can you access your PMS directly from a web browser (like Chrome) without installing additional software? Do you need to log in to a server, then connect remotely to your software?
A browser-only environment confirms that all computing, security, data storage, and backups are managed in the cloud. In addition, if you must own a server, it is NOT cloud software. A true cloud solution stores all your information in a data center, not a server sitting in a storage closet.
Is it easy to extract your data?
Always remember that the data is yours and you should be able to access it any time you want. Curve has a button every customer can click called, “Get My Data,” that provides immediate access. If the software provider doesn’t make your data easily accessible, it isn’t a true cloud-based solution. Also, if you do not have this ability with any type of software provider, you could be setting up yourself to be held hostage whenever you want to make a change. Remember, it is YOUR data.
Is the software supported with world-class service?
Cloud-based software is also known as Software as a Service or SaaS. What separates the top companies from the pretenders is how much they emphasize “service.” World-class service means 24/7/365 customer care, automatic product updates without disruption to your workflow, data security and backups, and effective training. Any company purporting to offer cloud-based software that doesn’t provide this level of service is not using your monthly subscription responsibly.
Is the software provider truly committed to the cloud?
Pay attention to how committed a PMS provider is to the cloud. If they also offer on-premise, server-based PMS products, then they are serving too many masters, and therefore, product enhancements and support will lag. Practice management software is organic, in that it should always be morphing and improving. When a company must split its resources between multiple platforms, it is unlikely they can keep pace, and all its products will suffer. Curve has committed to spending $40 million in the next 5 years on Curve Hero, our only PMS product, so that we can deliver software that continues to evolve with the ever-changing dental industry.
Accessing Data from Home Alone Doesn’t Make Your Software Cloud-Based
If your IT company installed a virtual private network (VPN) so that you can access data remotely, you still need a server to house your data, which you must purchase, maintain, and upgrade, as needed. This is definitely not cloud. True cloud server facilities are more complex and robust than an individual server. They are a world-class virtual infrastructure built on a series of servers, with layers of security and intrusion detection wrapped around them. Not only is data more secure, it is more accessible. With true cloud, you simply need a computer with an internet-connected web browser and you’re good to go from anywhere.
The Power of a Cloud Community
Curve customers receive the benefit of pooling their resources with over 41,000 dental professionals to utilize software and services that any practice alone could not afford. They have access to a powerful practice management solution, from anywhere 24x7, at a total cost of ownership that is lower than traditional server-based systems. All of this supported by world-class customer care delivers the level of service you should come to expect from a true cloud-based solution.