The demand for distributed data is increasing as companies are more and more spread across the world with the current globalization. And with the increase of cloud resources and tools offerings even smaller companies are starting to use such services once the prices have lowered. As many other domains project management is also embracing this new wave.
Cloud services are raging from simple storage and up to complex computing processes. Depending on the needs there are products that run completely into the cloud while others are just storing the data into the cloud. In the last few years there is a battle that is given between desktop based applications and cloud based ones.
Web-based Project Management Software
The notion of web-based products refers to software that runs within a browser on the client side. Generally the central computing part is kept entirely (computing and storage) within the cloud on the software provider side. However for certain offerings like RationalPlan it is also possible to have the central computing unit as a server module on the customer side. This might be a security measure for some customers.
In both cases there is no need to install any software on the users computers meaning that low-power PCs can use the tool. All it is required is a browser.
Desktop tools require hardware maintenance, software upgrading and database back up. But part of this hassle can be reduced by using a solution that uses cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box etc. where the data backup is already done. However the hardware maintenance and new versions upgrades still need to be handled by the customer. This is a good choice when companies just needs to have access to project data from multiple places but there is no need for more powerful features like concurrency access and when the software can easily be maintained in house.
With cloud-based project management tools everything is backed up into the cloud on remote servers. In case of an emergency all the data is restored quickly so the projects remain on track. Plus when the tools are upgraded to newer versions users just need to log in and the latest version is there. This solution is suitable for the case when the project management products requires complex installation and upgrades steps.
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Pros and Cons
As always nothing is perfect so there are obvious pros and cons for each possible solution.
- Collaboration – since many companies are spread across the globe and have employees in multiple locations, cloud-based software can ease communication and increase teamwork productivity.
- Data Backup - data loss is a real problem even for the biggest players on the market and even the best hardware servers can fall victim to power failures, system crashes and hackers or viruses attacks. However with cloud storage services users don’t have to ever worry about losing files since automatically files backups are done in multiple locations.
- Reduced Costs – having its own hardware for data storage requires companies to have employees to do the administrative work and a space for it and all these means additional costs. Using a cloud service it is cheaper since the maintenance and office space costs are shared to multiple companies that are using that service.
- Security – using the cloud means storing all of a company’s data – which may include sensitive data, and company sensitive information – on others hardware. And those servers could be vulnerable to hackers, viruses, natural disasters or even physical theft. However the only real problem that appears only on cloud systems is related to security.
- Downtime – if the cloud provider runs into technical problems the clients will not be able to access their data until the provider solves the problem, situation which might take even a few hours… However the statistics say that the uptime of most cloud providers range between 99.6 percent and 99.9 percent which is not that bad for small businesses. For critical systems the most crucial data should be backed up in-house.
- Lower Speed – working over the Internet means bigger delays and response times as compared to local or Intranet solutions
- Less Features – cloud-based solutions are mostly web-based solutions that run within the clients browser and for this reason the list of features that can be offered is reduced as compared to a native application.
Cloud project management software is a great solution for small businesses to increased productivity and collaboration with lower costs and with data backup support. But there are also reasons to be cautious: the security, reliability and the speed. For such situations a dedicated server based project management system might be an alternative solution.