Office Applications are software tools designed to enable productivity in the office environment. Typically an “office” suite of applications would include word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, managing of email and calendars, and publishing software.
Office Applications can be hosted in the cloud and delivered as software as a service (SaaS). Combined with a cloud-based file storage facility, cloud-hosted Office Applications can be a highly effective way of provisioning application for your business.
Office applications are ideally suited to cloud-based delivery in the form of SaaS and as such there are some compelling advantages for companies using cloud-hosted applications. The SaaS model of accessing and running the software permits the following advantages:[pullquote]Office applications are ideally suites to cloud-based delivery in the form of SaaS…[/pullquote]
- Cashflow benefits
The traditional method of deploying a commercial office application involves a large initial payment for purchasing the software and your rights to use it. You then have to provide the hardware resources to operate that software. With monthly recurring billing, managed cloud-based solutions benefit your organisation by reducing those labour and capital expenditure costs which would otherwise be needed to install, maintain and support the application.
The traditional method of installing software onto a Server, PC or laptop relies on the stability of that computer. If for any reason that computer stops working, then you cannot access that software! – and (subject to your backup policy) you may lose significant portions of your data. Traditional methods of software usage carries inherent risks in terms of data and productivity loss.
In a SaaS environment your SaaS supplier selects and builds your application using world class hardware and datacentres. This investment in operational hardware and system process ensures that your data and cloud-based applications are highly available, fully redundant, optimised and backed up.
Using a cloud-hosted office application requires no more than an internet connection. Administration of the software – including its backup, network drive sharing and initial configuration is looked after by your hosted applications / SaaS supplier. Being a SaaS based service provides the additional advantage of allowing access 24 hours a day 365 days a year from any supported device from any internet enabled location.
One of the key features of using a hosted office application is the ease of collaboration this affords. For instance one document may be edited and worked on simultaneously by a number of key staff; this is especially useful for a project that requires multiple inputs.
- Future Proofing
Moving to the latest version of a hosted office application would require further capital expenditure and the arduous task of administering the upgrade on your computer. Using a hosted office application within a SaaS model will ensure that your software is always kept up to date with system patching and version upgrades.
As with all technology decisions, there will always be a certain amount of investigation required to determine a fit for your business.
Disadvantages or things to look out for
- Internet Access
A cloud-hosted office application is delivered over the internet therefore it is essential to ensure that you have a reliable and stable internet connection. Your provider will be able to advise you on the required bandwidth (access speed) needed to sustain the users you’re proposing to use your hosted office application.
- Data Security
Is your business or organisation subject to compliance and regulations in terms of data storage or location of data? If it is ask your provider where your data resides and what checks they have in place to ensure data security and retrieval.
- It’s advisable not to use price as your only benchmark
Whilst there are a large number of hosted office application providers offering services to choose from including the software developers themselves, it is crucial to evaluate the merits of each in terms of the value they can bring to your business. This may be competitive pricing, but in most cases the critical element is service. What service levels will the provider offer you and commit to under SLA? What migration assistance will the provider offer? What technical support or helpdesk service will the provider offer your users – if any? Similarly, performance levels of hosted applications can vary considerably due to a number of factors – so be sure to run a trial and check the contractual terms and service level agreements (SLAs)…
Where to go from here?
At Compare the Cloud, we’re here to help you get started and identify suitable providers who will meet your needs. Take a few minutes tell us about your company, and we’ll present you with some informed options – and help your take full advantage of what a hosted office application can offer.