A new version of an old idea has returned with a sexy new name. What we used to call ASP which stands for Application Service Provider has be re-named “Cloud Computing”. 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.
I actually wrote about ASPs back in 1999. I listed seven advantages. They are still valid.
Why would you want to use an ASP?
1. Lower startup costs, you do not buy the software, you merely subscribe to it.
2. 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.
3. You will have none of the current software/hardware conflicts seen in offices running different software versions over various different network configurations.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
There is a lot more to the new systems than a sexy name. Web 2.0 processes make web based computing an entirely different experience than it was in the past.