Did You Know When You Work in the Cloud…
By Lee Rychel
The question comes up in most every instance when we are discussing working in the cloud, with both current server based clients and new customers: “What if I lose my internet?” – It happens. Although system-wide outages of any duration are rare, it can happen that your local internet provider is down because local outages can happen. The fear is we are done, out of business and unable to connect to our data. A valid one. Many retailers will install redundancies so that if one provider fails, another is available. There is an alternative.
In May of this year, Jan and I moved aboard a motor vessel. We took possession in Chesapeake, VA, to begin our new lifestyle and an incredible journey. PROFITsystems and the HighJump family insisted on one condition. We could do this if I could stay connected. No problem we said. Heck, nearly every marina has Wi-Fi. How hard can this be?
Reality struck soon after we left the dock. Marina Wi-Fi may be available, but it’s pretty much only sufficient for email and browsing. And then you usually need to be standing in the laundry room up by the office where the router sits behind a filing cabinet on that unused desk piled high with parts and papers. The kind of heavy lifting my job required including having a secure VPN to our corporate computers was just not possible in most cases. NOW What?
In a word, 4G. Our Verizon account includes some tablets and our phone’s capable of acting as an internet hotspot. For 7 months now we’ve been making our way down the East Coast. We take our time, sometimes spending a week or more in marinas, other times anchored out in the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) On October 2 we pulled into our home for the next month, Hilton Head. On October 7, Mathew, a category 2 hurricane, slammed head on into the island. Services were down for weeks. After a few days ashore, anxious to get back on board, we returned to witness the devastation. Fortunately, our home was secure and in a matter of minutes I was up on the net; working even though the area had no power or local services of any kind. Cell service was the only thing available.
Our Verizon service has never let us down. We’ve spent days anchored in remote creeks, deep in the coastal marshes – far from any towns or services. I’ve been able to connect to our servers each and every day since we left VA. Today, as I write this, we are in East Central Florida – with a solid 4G connection.
What struck me was this: in many cases I will be asked to either demo our POD product (cloud) or, I’ll need to get into the latest version of RETAILvantage2.3 to answer a client question. I use this same 4G hotspot to manage those activities while connected to our servers at the same time. In fact, I’ve pretty much forgotten that I’m on a wireless connection. I can do anything in POD that I can do on a local installation of the software. Granted, I’m not a store full of workstations entering sales and receiving truckloads of new furniture. But if I were a retailer working in our cloud and lost my local internet connection, I know I can get back online, back to my data and continue to run my business using a cellular hotspot.
Is the cloud the best answer for everyone? Maybe not. But having the freedom to work from anywhere AND keep my store online even when the internet is down, is indeed a huge benefit.