Scared of the cloud? Why not go half-and-half?

While experts agree that the cloud is coming, there’s no need to immediately leap lock, stock and barrel into the cloud future.

A way to dip your toe in the virtual waters is a hybrid cloud solution. These take a variety of forms but, before explaining them, let’s briefly recap what the cloud is.

With the cloud, not just your data but your apps live in the cloud too. This means that you can work virtually anywhere, at any time, and often via a host of different types of technologies – from mobile phones to tablets to traditional desktop computers. Suddenly it’s as easy to work from a café at 8am as it is from your office at 3pm.

By way of contrast, and put crudely, the hybrid cloud cheats a little. It typically takes the biggest benefits of the full cloud experience but retains bits that are more familiar to traditional computer users.

For example, the Sage 50c accounting package installs to your computer, just like software has since the invention of the PC in the early 1980s (which, coincidentally, was when Sage was first founded!).

However, Sage 50c’s data can be stored in the cloud. As such you get benefits such as the ability to be able to access your stuff from just about anywhere, and to easily collaborate with others, but without making the full leap to a potentially unfamiliar new world.

In fact, Sage’s hybrid cloud approach brings some other pretty neat benefits. Integration with Microsoft Office – surely the shining paradigm of desktop computing – means you can work with your Sage 50c directly in Excel, and can surface data within Outlook.  

Yet in other ways you’re definitely living in the cloud. There are mobile apps for your phone that let you snap pictures of documentation and quickly record transaction data on the move. Because these are of course cloud-enabled, everything is automagically beamed straight into your Sage 50c cloud data.

Perhaps the biggest drawback with a hybrid cloud solution is that you’re still tied to a single computer. For some who rely on desktop PCs this can mean also being tied to a single office. There’s also the traditional burden of having to update software, which simply isn’t an issue with the cloud, where apps are always automatically bang up-to-date.

With Sage’s full cloud solutions, such as Sage One, you can literally work almost anywhere, and using almost any kind of computing device. Once I forgot to take my laptop to work, for example, and rather than face the lengthy return trip to go home, I was simply able to borrow a laptop and log straight into Sage One with no issues. What I saw was what I was used to, and I was working literally within a minute or two.

However, there’s also little doubt that hybrid cloud solutions like Sage 50c really do come as close as possible to offering the best of both worlds. For those who want to take a more cautious approach with their computing needs, the hybrid cloud is definitely worth investigating.