Over the last couple of decades, many geographic barriers to trade have been eliminated with the use of technology. Real estate companies of all sizes and across all areas of property are now operating in a global market place, with sales and leasing transactions just as likely to take place via Skype as in a physical office. This has created a swathe of growth opportunities but it also means that now more than ever, it’s imperative to have the right IT systems in place.
For business operators, one of the most important IT systems impacting efficiency and the ability to stay competitive is infrastructure. Consumer preference has long-favouredfavored cloud over location-dependent solutions; now business is increasingly discovering how cloud systems can not only improve customer satisfaction, but also deliver a range of commercial benefits.
The transition from onsite IT systems to the cloud does not happen overnight. And depending on the needs and comfort level of the business operator, this transition need not be absolute. In many cases, the first step is to virtualize the infrastructure (IaaS) and then begin the adoption of more fully managed solutions. In other cases, companies can jump in feet first and adopt a SaaS version of applications they’re already using in many cases with feature parity. Sometimes shifting just part of your IT responsibility and overhead to an external provider can deliver substantial cost and time-savings, greater security and improved business continuity (uptime).
The first and possibly most familiar cloud solution is SaaS or Software as a Service. SaaS provides complete software functionality, but instead of being installed on individual workstations the software is accessed online. Some common examples of SaaS include Dropbox, Xero and Salesforce.
SaaS solutions provide business operators with a cost effective, convenient way to manage their software needs. Many are supplied via subscription, allowing scalability and flexibility to extend or upgrade in line with the needs of the business while the SaaS provider takes responsibility for security, availability and performance and backup.
The second cloud solution is PaaS or Platform as a Service. PaaS delivers both hardware and software support and provides the foundation upon which to run your business databases and applications. In everyday terms, this means that rather than installing an operating system on individual computers, users access the system by logging in to a web browser or certain management tools.
PaaS is commonly used by Software developers wanting to build and test applications without having to maintain the underlying hardware and eventually as a platform to delivery their SaaS.
PaaS is also useful if you’re a business that develops your own in-house tools, meaning you can focus on developing the application, while leaving patching and maintenance of the hardware to the PaaS provider. For most of us, PaaS is something that we’ll skip over, opting to go straight to SaaS, where our applications are being delivered today.
The third and perhaps most substantial cloud solution is IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service. In this model, rather than owning and maintaining onsite hardware like servers, storage and networks, which demand significant time, capital and human resources, responsibility is transferred to a third partythird-party cloud provider and you pay on-demand for the services you use.
For end users, shifting to IaaS causes minimal disruption; existing applications just run from virtual rather than onsite machines. For business operators, there are IaaS solutions for on-server applications such as REST or Console which provide significant peace of mind by offering a stable and secure way to house and maintain business critical functions like property management, trust accounting and sales whilst also allowing easy scalability and reducing overheads.
As cloud functionality becomes the new norm for business and consumers, real estate companies are increasingly asking the question ‘Should I be focusing on managing my IT infrastructure or making money?’ At this stage, the answer is twofold: there are still a few business criticalbusiness-critical applications not yet available in the cloud, meaning that IaaS is the logical first step. But it’s only a matter of time before these too become SaaS. Until then, there are many cloud solutions already available that can greatly enhance business productivity, efficiency and competitiveness many of them offering the same features to solutions you use today.
Determine your ideal business outcome: is it to free up staff resources? Reduce capital expenditure? Communicate news in real time with your customers? Then marry this with your comfort level and understanding of the services available. This way, you’ll achieve a cloud migration solution that helps grow your business now and in the future.
If change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless office technology. GPK consultant, Ben Holian, is available for a no obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email email@example.com for more information.