Living on Cloud 9

Living on Cloud 9

Why ‘The Cloud’ leaves you floating on air:

Until GDPR came along, the hottest tech topic had been for several years ‘The Cloud’. Frankly, it’s still a pretty neat technical concept – even if it was one of the reasons that GDPR was eventually needed. So, what is ‘The Cloud’ and why is it important to dentistry and dental technology?

Photo - cloudsEssentially ‘The Cloud’ is a way to allow you to do some form of computing ‘elsewhere’. I can hear it now – ‘What?’ Well, it doesn’t have to be all your computing. In fact, that would be outsourcing rather than ‘The Cloud’. What it does do is allow you to (for example) hold data on one computer, and to allow it to be accessed from others.

That’s just a network

Well, yes, it can be just a network. But it’s the way the network works that differentiates ‘The Cloud’ from ‘client-server’ based networks.

Photo - network patch panelYou see, ‘The Cloud’ means that you don’t have to own the server. Instead, you rent space on someone else’s computer – usually, along with thousands of others.

The result is reduced infrastructure investment and simpler computer operations. For example, back-ups and data security are largely managed by the organisation that owns the computer (often referred to as a server farm or data-centre) upon which your data is physically stored.

But ‘The Cloud’ goes much further than that. Many cloud-enabled systems carry out your processing for you – all you do is access the data through an application which produces reports or manages your updates.

Cloud, cloudy cloud, misty cloud, rainy cloud and a ray of sunshine

The cloud has many different names and sub-names. To the uninitiated most of these are meaningless.

Essentially, in its most basic form, cloud computing places the physical data on a computer that’s accessed using the internet rather than directly via a hardwired network.

A private cloud uses the same internet technology to access data held on a server that you own, and which is secured from users outside your organisation.

A virtual private cloud is one where physical storage and other components are owned by a third party but dedicated and secured to your sole use

A hybrid cloud is one that has a mixture of owned and rented components and locations.

photo - server farmSo, what’s a service and what’s a platform

You may have heard the term SaaS or Software as a Service. This is software that is owned and run by a 3rd party, that you access through the internet. You rent the software, so accessing can be done just when you need it, and you know that it will be maintained by the owner (usually the organisation developing it).

PaaS or Platform as a Service is a development of SaaS. It allows you to rent standard underlying components (a platform) upon which you can develop your own application.

Data as a Service or DaaS is data that you rent from a supplier providing it as a subscription service. In this situation, you can’t usually change the data, but you can analyse it and report n it in different ways. Useful for research purposes and market analysis, and quite possibly something that will be difficult for suppliers to do and stay compliant within GDPR.

What does that mean to me?

As a practice owner or practise manager, have you ever found yourself stuck in the office trying to understand business data or creating a mailshot? Wouldn’t it be nice to sometimes just go home and work on it there when the kids have gone to bed?

Or what if you’re building a chain of practices? Would it be good to gather performance or financial data from every separate practice without having to visit each one or having to manage remote logins for multiple separate systems?

What if your system crashes? How would you recover your data from back-ups? And how can you be sure you even have a back-up?

Photo - BHA Support deskComputer systems that are cloud-enabled, such as Pearl Dental Software, provide you with facilities to do all of these things. Additionally, they can be accessed by many different devices (desktop and laptop computers and tablets), and greatly reduce the complexity of networks and computer infrastructure that you need to provide and manage.

Pearl provides reporting facilities for chains of practices (at least 50 can be handled). It also offers remotely managed data back-ups and recoveries, and up-to-the-minute software updates and support. All this simplicity of operation is enabled by ‘The Cloud’ and internet technologies.

For a more detailed and technical explanation of how Pearl works and what it can do for you, contact us through our website or helpdesk We’ll be happy to discuss how Pearl can support your practice and business.

Ben Baker