Cloud applications and services have become the norm for many of the things we do on our computers every day. There are many benefits to using cloud applications, including lower up-front fees, more frequent updates, and always having the latest version of the software. However, like anything, there are things you should think about before jumping to cloud services as there are potential drawbacks.
This post discusses three limitations you should consider before moving to a cloud application.
3 Limitations You Should Consider Before Moving to Cloud Applications
The main drawback everyone should consider before moving to a cloud application is what happens if you no longer want to pay the continued subscription fees? There are several reasons you may decide you no longer want or need an application, so it is important to know what will happen to any data you created with the application if this occurs.
Some reasons you might stop needing an application are:
- The application was related to a specific task you no longer do. Perhaps you used InDesign to create document templates, but are no longer doing this task.
- The application was used for business purposes and you no longer have the business. A great example of this is an application that manages business financials. Once you no longer have the business, paying for this application can be wasteful.
- The application fails to keep up with other technologies released and you want to switch to a different application. This is extremely common with marketing applications and CRM services.
- The vendor who created the application decides they are no longer going to support it but you still have the need for an application of that type.
The three things you should consider before transitioning are related to no longer needing a cloud application, and include:
Does the vendor provide archive services?
Depending upon why you no longer need the application, you may want the ability to archive your content. A perfect example of where this can be necessary is using the financial example listed above. If you use an online application to track financials for a business that closes, you still need access to those records for years to come.
Paying the normal fees for the application, when you may only need access once or twice, means you could be overpaying. Archive services can often provide the access you need while being far less in cost when compared to regular access.
Keep in mind, archiving your data may mean you have more limited access. Be sure you find out what the archive service consists of before moving to it. A couple of things to consider are what accessibility you have as well as what features will still be available. For example, in archive mode, you might lose access to specific reports or other application features. Whatever this is for that application, be sure it is something you can work with.
Can you export your data?
Regardless of why you use an application, one important factor to consider is if you can easily export data and/or save it locally. Depending upon the complexity of the application, the ability to easily save files locally can vary greatly. Some applications do not have an easy or accessible way to export the file(s) you have created. This could mean you simply have to contact the company, or it could mean it is not provided by them.
This is something you want to consider before moving an application to the cloud. If something happens and you no longer need the application, is there a way to export your data or store a copy locally so you can access it later if you need it? If not, you may be stuck paying for a subscription until you no longer need access to that legacy data.
Can you use the data?
The last, and possibly most important aspect to consider about using your data later, relates to having exported it or saving it locally. If you were in fact able to obtain a local copy, do you have a way to open the files and/or access the data? This may seem like a small detail, but a copy of a database file that you cannot open does not really do you any good.
For example, documents stored in common file types, including those that other programs can often open, will be easier to save and access. A good example is how Adobe can open .doc files and Word can open .pdf files. However, other programs, like QuickBooks and many others, use file types that are tedious or impossible to open outside of their original applications.
Before committing to this form of "having a copy of your data", be sure the data is actually accessible, meaning you have a way to open the files in case you need them. Is there an "offline" version of the files? Are the files capable of being opened by another program like pdf and doc files?
If you choose to move to a cloud-based application, there are several things you need to consider to protect your data. First, find out if the company offers archive services in case you want to discontinue use of the application, but need to retain access to the files. Second, find out if you can export the data or save local copies. Lastly, be sure you can open any locally saved files in case you need to access them. Having a local copy will not do you any good if you cannot open the files because you don't have a way to open that particular file type.
As always, it is important to consider all aspects before implementing big technology changes!