By Sam Cheo, Managing Director, Sigma Conso Asia
Over the years, many applications have moved from traditional client-server based computing to the web, helping organizations to stay ahead of their digitalization. What is a web-based solution? What is a cloud or SaaS solution? Many non-IT/ business users seem to be confused about these terms. This article will try to address some of these questions in a layman fashion.
Firstly, what is a web-based solution?
A web-based solution is a software you access over the internet via a web browser.
Do you know there are different types of web-based solutions out there?
Traditional client-server software has been developed before your time and is generally built on top of proprietary database or engine that is harder to change. The easiest way to think of the client-server software is to imagine a desktop application broken into logical pieces and distributed throughout a network of computers and servers. All desktops/ laptops and servers are required to have some parts of the software installed to work properly.
Generally, the IT department will ensure that the entire organization has all the software and components standardized and installed on every desktop/ laptop. However, this has become a greater challenge when a company starts to grow regionally and globally. As the distance between the server and the desktops/laptops increases, the performance will decrease. Beside that, ensuring the right and timely software updates in every piece of equipment is also a nightmare for the IT department.
All the above has pressurized traditional software companies to desperately and quickly develop a web-based solution for their clients. The fastest way to do it is to build part of their software on the latest web front-end, leaving the major part of the application untouched or having minimum changes. This is a quick and dirty way to fix the problem. Software companies can choose to rewrite the entire solution again on the web platform, however, this is costly and time-consuming. For companies that only care about the bottom line, they will not choose such an approach.
What is the difference between web-based solutions and cloud-based solutions?
In simple words, web-based solutions are applications, coded in browser-supported programming languages that can be accessed through any web browser locally, remotely, through a private network, cloud, or internet.
Cloud-based solutions refer to the above web-based solutions that are hosted through a reliable and secured network of computing resources on the internet rather than on personal devices or on-premise servers.
Now, here is the most vital question: Is there a need to have a part of the software or components installed on the client’s (users) machines? When there remains a need to have small programs, apps, or components installed on a desktop/ laptop, this is not a full true-web-based solution! This is probably an enhanced client-server solution. Do not be confused.
Most companies opt for a cloud-based solution for a few key reasons:
- Ease of access – accessing important information from various devices (not only desktops/ laptops but also mobile/ portable devices) has been increasingly important as the proliferation of mobile devices is inevitable globally.
- Ease of use – with any browser, users can fully operate and control their solutions without much problem and support from the IT department. This is crucial in the view of the unprecedented global pandemic while working from home becoming a new norm.
- Ease of maintenance – the IT department will not need to run from place to place trying to fix each piece of hardware and network equipment.
Are cloud-based solutions safer?
With traditional software, employees save data within their laptops, USB drives, or portable hard-drives. It’s not as safe as it sounds. Laptops are stolen, computers are rarely backed up properly, and it is unlikely every machine is up-to-date with the latest security patches and upgrades. When you use our hosted web-based solutions, your data is stored in secured, always-updated, backed-up daily, enterprise-class servers, in a state-of-the-art data center.
Other benefits of a true web-based solution are: (just to name a few)
- Fast scale-out and scale-in ability.
- Ability to just pay for what you use.
- Outsource the maintenance of the server and its security to the cloud provider.
- Out-of-the-box monitoring features.
- Asset-light strategy for businesses.
And why is it better for the business if you choose the right web-based solution?
When you select the right solution, you do not have to worry about anything technical — you can just do your work. Especially for accountants, who are continuously swayed with lots of data and tight deadlines, IT-related problems should not cause you more delays and complications. Let the expert handle all the security, backups, upgrades, and the “IT-guy” stuff. You can stay focused on what you are good at and we will handle the rest.
What does it mean to the IT department?
Having a big IT department is a thing of the past; the IT staff is now more focused on supporting business in a lean-and-mean manner. Selecting the right solution and partner becomes more critical in the successful path of corporate digitalization.
What does it mean to the accountants?
Ultimately, accountants are humans, just with special skills on numbers and regulations. They would like to have a more work-life balance too, yet at the same time delivering high-standard and timely reporting for their organization. We hope this article effectively summarizes key points for business users to choose a winning web-based solution for their enterprise, at the same time, allowing them to work from home and achieve a work-life balance.