Tom’s Tech Tips

Tom’s Tech Tip: The Cloud or Not – Certified Legal Nurse Consultants Must Decide

Certified Legal Nurse Consultants need to know what they’re facing as we continue to move more and more towards software as a service (SaaS), the Cloud and Cloud computing. These are three different terms that have different applications depending on what you need and how you use each one.

Back in the good old days you’d buy a copy of Microsoft® Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) and it would be yours to use in your legal nurse consultant business until it was time to upgrade. Today, it’s not as simple. Microsoft Office 365 comes as a monthly or annual subscription so you no longer “own” the software – you rent it. You do install it locally and can use it without being connected to the Internet, but technically the software is on loan from Microsoft. Once your subscription ends you can’t create or edit your documents, PowerPoints or spreadsheets, but you can still view them as “read only.” That’s an example of SaaS. The nice part of SaaS is that the software automatically updates to the most current and secure version. The bad news is that the upgrades aren’t always that terrific until they’ve been patched and if you have other software that depends on the version you’re using, it won’t always be compatible.

With Office 365, you do get a terabyte or so of free “Cloud” storage which gives you the option of keeping your documents in the Cloud instead of storing them locally. There are advantages to either choice. Storing your documents in the Cloud allows you to access them from anywhere that you can log into your Office 365 account. Storing them locally keeps them on your computer which doesn’t require Internet access to get to them. Having been in parts of the world where Internet, cell and satellite coverage is less than spotty I’ve been happy to have documents on my laptop where I could work on them and then upload them when I returned to civilization – or at least to Kigali, Thimpu or Poughkeepsie.

If you’re like me, I’d rather spring for Office 2019 and own the software outright. Then, as long as I keep that legal nurse consulting business computer, the software is mine (and if I keep the activation code I can move it to a new computer). Of course, in order to upgrade I’ll have to purchase the new version, but as long as the software works I can put that off. Believe it or not I still have functioning versions of WordPerfect® and Quattro Pro® I use for legacy documents I don’t want to convert.

If you’re the type of Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who has to drive a new car every year, the SaaS option is better for you. If you just want to work on your legal nurse consultant jobs for a living then the outright purchase is best for you.

Now that we’ve talked about SaaS – let’s talk about the Cloud. This has become a generic term for any storage that’s not on your local computer. Just about every phone vendor has a Cloud solution for storing pictures and data. There’s usually a free amount of storage space, which is just enough to get you hooked into paying an additional monthly fee for the comfort of not maintaining a manual, local backup. If you backup your phone to a computer on a regular basis there’s no need for this – but if you don’t, then this is your best option.

If you use an email provider like Gmail®, AOL®, Office 365 or any Internet provider you’re using a Cloud service. When you use your employer’s Exchange server your email is hosted on your company’s network. But with the Cloud-based providers email may be stored on your computer for local viewing but it’s physically stored on a series of computers or computer memory stretched across space – i.e. the “Cloud.” In short, the Cloud is simply virtually distributed storage. There is something to having all your photos, data, etc., stored in the “Cloud” but it’s also a security risk if you have a simple password or your login is the same as your email address.

Finally let’s cover “Cloud computing.” This is a flexible term meaning it covers whatever you want. If you have a computer program that you access through the Cloud, that’s Cloud computing. I’m not a fan because for me it depends on the strength and speed of your Internet connection to have a pleasurable experience. Do I use some Cloud programs? Yes, but not by choice as I find them much too slow. Cloud computing is the whole idea behind the Chromebook® computers – great idea if you live in an area with constant and persistent wireless, but not in the real world. Until the Internet is truly everywhere – trains, planes, automobiles and Texas driver’s license renewal stations that won’t be an option.

So there you have it – SaaS, the Cloud and Cloud computing explained for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants. Where you go from here is entirely up to you.

Keep on Techin’,

Tom

P.S. Comment and share whether or not you’re using the Cloud and why or why not.

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