The phrase cloud is used to describe a situation where programs and data are accessed over the internet. Because the physical location and who controls the programs and data can vary, and the internet makes access available to a range of devices such as smart phones and tablets, this leads to various hosting options as well as software solutions with degrees of ‘cloud compatibility’.

 The options for hosting can be broadly summarised as:

Pure Cloud – A third party provides all services and achieves optimum pricing by sharing the services across as many customers as possible.

Vendor hosted – A third party provides a tailored and independent set of services to each customer.

Client Hosted – The customer uses a vendor to provide hardware, infrastructure, and connectivity services only.

On premise – The customer provides all services for themselves with in their workplace.

While the options for software can also be broadly summarised into:

True Cloud – Runs inside web browsers with device sensitive forms. I.e. forms adjust for desk top, tablet, and smart phone displays.

Browser based – Will function inside a browser but doesn’t adapt well to different display systems.

Cloud Enabled – Doesn’t function inside a browser, uses VPN and RDP technology to connect over the internet.

A key differentiator is whether the option chosen is ‘multi- tenanted’ or ‘single tenanted’, the first being, from the customers point of view, the easiest and least expensive, while the latter provides more control and more options for security, integrating different systems and customising.

This differentiator applies to both hosting and software, as the software in a multi-tenanted environment must have the capability to handle multiple databases through a single instance of the source code.

Most new application software is now ‘True Cloud’, however it can lack the maturity and features of software that was initially developed pre-cloud.