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Cloud: the good, the bad and the better


Businesses and organizations vary not only in size but also in needs. It seems obvious, but it’s incredible how many software packages and services are offered with an unwieldy “one size fits all” mentality.

eFront on the other hand was built with flexibility in mind. And that’s not just in the features it offers that enable you to organize and manage your classes in any way that fits your workflow and needs, but also in its deployment, with its different configurations of deployed and hosted installation options.

In this post we are going to take a look into our private cloud solution ― what it entails, what are its pros and cons, and what type of businesses should be considering it. So hang on, as we reach for the clouds…

I’ll take for granted that you know what the Cloud is. After all, it has been the most popular IT trend in the last five years, with every major player, from Microsoft and Google, to VMWare and Amazon, offering their own cloud based solutions to businesses and even to third party developers.

The Good

The Cloud is great because it frees you from having to deploy and manage your own application servers.

This means that your IT people are free to concentrate on more essential work, or (in case you’ve moved everything to the Cloud), that you don’t even need an IT staff (and a lot of small businesses nowadays do not).

As long as you pay the Cloud subscription, you also get updates for free, that roll transparently without you having to do anything.

You also get a free specialized IT team to perform backups of your data and monitoring of the servers. And since thousands of other people are using the same service as you do, any glitches or problems tend to get solved quickly.

One problem with Cloud based solutions though, is that the Cloud can be rather crowded. Your cloud learning management system (LMS) is basically an application shared by thousands of other web users.

This has several downsides.

The Bad

For starters, performance can suffer, or at least it’s not as good as having a server on your own. That such cloud services run on multiple servers doesn’t help much, as each server still has to support lots of users.

Second, you have to hope that they got security right, because if a hole is discovered in their software (something that has happened to Cloud services, from Gmail to Yahoo) other users in the same server might be able to get to your data.

Third, you’re at the whim of the cloud service provider for when and how updates happen. You might have signed when the service had a certain set of features you liked, but nobody guarantees you that one or more of them won’t be removed in the next update (kind of how major Facebook or Gmail updates mess with your workflow or kill your favorite features).

Individual users seldom have a say on the matter, as the service caters to thousands, and updates are created and deployed for all of them at once, whenever the Cloud company decides.

You also don’t have much of a say in how you want the service to be, and what to include. If you need a special capability that the company doesn’t deem worthy to add, you’re out of luck.

And the Better

Those drawbacks of a Cloud service we mentioned just now? Our private cloud eFront solution, does away will all of them.

You literally get to reap all the benefits of a Cloud service (the Cloud parts) without any of the negatives (resulting from the non-exclusivity of shared cloud services).

Performance is great because your private cloud’s servers are not shared with anyone else (that’s were the private in “private cloud” comes from).

Same goes for security. Since you don’t share the eFront instance with anyone else, any bug won’t involve thousands of users with accounts having access to the same machine. And it’s far easier to lock it down, firewall it etc, according to the most secure specifications.

As for updates, it’s now your call. You can update as soon as we release a new version to get all the new features, or you can keep using the same version that you have tested and know it works reliably for you. You can also schedule any update to hours and days such that it won’t disrupt your business in any way.

Same goes for customization. You can extend, tweak and enhance your eFront private cloud to suit your needs, including customizing its basic behavior and branding it with your company’s logo, domain, and custom theme.

In a way, a managed private cloud gives you all the benefits of the Cloud with all the customization options and exclusivity of a custom deployment. And all that for a flat fee that allows you to grow without worrying for hidden costs, and with lots of niceties thrown in, such as free updates, monitoring and backups. And all that from the very people that built your LMS, so you can be confident that they know what they’re doing.

If the above piqued your interest, visit today, or drop us a line to learn more about our private cloud offerings.

Check this blog next week for more information about eFront, e-learning tips and tricks, and information and rants about the IT industry in general and the e-learning industry in particular.

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