We’re back with another article in our series on how “the cloud” can help you as a veterinary professional. Sagi Solomon from Vetter Software is a cloud guru and lucky for us, he’s here to educate us on how cloud technology can help you and your practice.
Miss Part 1? Start Here: Tails in the Cloud – Reasons to Adopt
Busting Cloud Myths in Veterinary Medicine
Change can be intimidating, especially when we don’t understand the impact it will have on our lives and practices. When we’re intimidated by change we find reasons to justify doing things “the way we’ve always done them” even when those reasons are based on misinformation.
The cloud is a perfect example of this behavior.
Cloud technologies are changing the way we run our lives and our businesses for the better, and that change is happening quickly in the world around veterinary medicine. As a result, many myths have been created to protect the status quo. Let’s examine these myths in greater detail so that the veterinary world isn’t left behind.
Myth 1: The Cloud is Not Secure
The exact opposite is actually true. Reputable cloud vendors implement redundant levels of security that are otherwise either too costly or simply unavailable to most small businesses such as veterinary practices. These include physical controls at their data centers (such as biometric scans, surveillance technologies and on-site security staff), and multiple layers of logical security (such as firewalls and intrusion detection). In addition, these vendors regularly back up their customers’ data.
The same cannot be said of a server or hard drive stored within your hospital that crashes, is stolen, or is destroyed in a fire (the risks you accept by not using cloud technology).
It is important to regularly review your clinic’s security practices in any system, and to carefully assess the security practices of your partners.
Myth 2: The Cloud is More Expensive
This myth is based on a simple, but flawed, argument – since cloud technologies charge a monthly subscription fee, and on-premise solutions charge a one-time license fee, when measured over a long enough time period, the subscription fee exceeds the up-front fee.
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This argument is misleading for several reasons. First, it fails to account for the fact that cloud technologies do not require a large up-front investment in licenses and equipment (money that most new veterinary practices don’t have). Second, it omits the recurring support and maintenance fee charged by on-premise providers (usually 15 – 20% of the up-front license fee).
Finally, it neglects to include the consulting costs associated with setting up and maintaining servers, networks and related infrastructure (usually charged by the hour, and always a significant cost).
In comparison, subscription fees include support, updates, backups, security and maintenance of the infrastructure used to provide the cloud technology. When compared in this way, cloud technologies are clearly the more affordable option.
Myth 3: The Cloud is Not Reliable
Perfect reliability is likely an unachievable goal due to cost and inherit inability to fully control things like power interruptions in times of natural disasters. But this is true in any system.
Instead, we must examine what options are available to maximize reliability, and the cost of implementing them. Cloud technology vendors rely on a vast infrastructure of computing resources, hosting and redundancy that is available at low cost. This allows them to build systems that ensure that if any component of their infrastructure fails, their services can continue to function with little or no interruption.
It is true that the same level of redundancy can be achieved with an on-premise solution, but the cost of the equipment, networking resources and staff required to implement such a solution makes it impractical for veterinary practices.
Myth 4: Customization is Better than Configuration
It is true that cloud technology vendors favor configuration over customization. This is due to the fact that they utilize an infrastructure that is shared among their customers.
In our case, any customization that is made for a single veterinary practice affects all of their other practices. As a result, any action these vendors take must account for the needs of all customers.
This balancing act benefits you as a veterinary professional for several reasons. First, cloud technology vendors pay close attention to their customers so that they can understand their needs.
Second, these vendors must update their products frequently in order to stay current with best practices and market demands, which means that their products are constantly improving and evolving (and these improvements are provided to all of their customers for no additional fee).
Finally, it is much cheaper to reliably maintain and support a single version of an application (even one that is highly configurable) than it is to do so for an application that has been customized differently for each installation.
This saving is passed directly to customers (and in this case, subsequently to animal owners!). When viewed from this perspective, vendors who provide a configurable solution (as opposed to a customizable one) are able to provide a more stable product that evolves more quickly, and that is more affordable.
Myth 5: The Cloud is Just a Fad
Some believe that the excitement surrounding cloud technologies will eventually fade.
This is a simple case of evidence not supporting belief. Global spending on cloud technologies will exceed $131 Billion in 2013 according to Gartner, and will continue to grow as more individuals and businesses adopt these technologies.
The technology has already touched every aspect of our personal and professional lives, allowing us to get the information we need whenever we need it. Veterinary practices adopting cloud technology in their day to day operations stand to benefit in ways not yet imagined.
The only thing worse? Failing to embrace these technologies now means falling behind competitively.
About the Author
Sagi Solomon is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Vetter Software , LLC., a leading provider of cloud-based veterinary practice management software whose mission is to help coordinate and improve the health of the world's pets. Along with having veterinary medicine in his family, Sagi has over 13 years of experience working with software-as-a-service and cloud technology companies, including SuccessFactors (human capital management) and Responsys (digital marketing automation). Follow Sagi on Twitter @sagi_solomon.