Creating a mobile real estate warrior part 1: an introduction to cloud computing

If you think this is a blog where we tell you to paint your face with blue stripes, wear nothing under your kilt and lead with a "FREEEDOOOM" war-cry into your listing presentations, then this is the wrong warrior blog for you.For everyone else that didn't mistake this for a post about Mel Gibson, this the first in a short series about building yourselves (or members of your staff) into deadly efficient, effective and truly "mobile real estate warriors".Ready for action? Hold onto your kilts for a moment boys and girls. Before we get you into mobile warrior gear, you'll need to understand a few concepts. The most notable is "the cloud". Today’s blog will: cover what “the cloud” is; address some of security concerns you may have with storing information “in the cloud”; explain the major benefits of cloud computing.So What is “The Cloud”?Most of you will have heard the terms “the cloud” or “cloud computing”, and have probably tried to drop them casually into conversation to demonstrate your warrior prowess, but these terms mean?Perhaps one of the best explanations of the cloud I’ve seen came from Vivek Kundra, the onetime CIO (Cheif information officer) for the US Government. Kundra tells us that "there was a time when every household, town, farm or village had its own water well. Today, shared public utilities give us access to clean water by simply turning on the tap; cloud computing works in a similar fashion. Just like water from the tap in your kitchen, cloud computing services can be turned on or off quickly as needed. Like at the water company, there is a team of dedicated professionals making sure the service provided is safe, secure and available on a 24/7 basis.”

To win "FREEEEDOOOOM" from your desk and become a truly mobile warrior, you'll need to tap into the cloud. Let's drill down a little more: there are three types of service models that fall under cloud computing umbrella":1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)3. Software as a Service (SaaS)Of the three - the only one relevant to a budding mobile warrior like yourself is the third cateogry: SaaS allows providers to install and operate application software in a cloud environment to allow users to access this software from a cloud client. Examples of SaaS including CRM (like the Rex Software real estate sales CRM and listing management system) and email (like Gmail).A cloud client is required to access cloud services – devices like computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets are all cloud client devices. In addition to hardware, the software required to access the SaaS product, like a web browser, is also considered to be a cloud client.

Security Concerns with Cloud Computing SecurityCloud computing offers the mobile real estate warrior a number of benefits, however, as with any Internet based technology, there are also certain risks.Probably the biggest concern people have is that users of cloud computing do not physically store their own data. Having your data, on your infrastructure inside your own building provides a level of comfort that is lost when storing data in the cloud. This doesn’t mean that storing data in the cloud is inherently insecure; it just means that cloud computing providers need to use more modern security practices.Another concern for people is the availability of data. As their data is not being stored internally, what happens if their provider goes down? The simple answer is that they would not have access to their data while their provider was down. Any decent cloud computing provider, however, has safeguards in place to ensure this scenario does not occur by running redundant servers in multiple locations to ensure that if one server goes down, the others can pick up the slack ensuring 24/7 access to data.While cloud computing is not risk free – the truth of the matter is no technology is risk free. You and your provider just need to manage the risks appropriately to minimise the risk.Benefits of The CloudNow that we’ve covered off some of the security concerns and risks with storing data in the cloud, it’s time to discuss the benefits.1. Reduced Cost: The process of running your own server and buying/upgrading software can be quite expensive one. Cloud computing reduces your hardware, software and overall IT expenditure as well as being a pay for what you use service.2. Scalability: Have you had to go out and buy an extra hard drive or pay your IT provider to come out and expand the data storage capacity of your own server? This is not an issue you have to deal with when using the cloud. You can increase or decrease your storage capacity as required. As per point one above, you only pay for what you’re using.3. Mobility: Gone are the days of being chained to a desk to use software. By using SaaS applications like Rex's real estate CRM, you’re able to access your data from anywhere with an Internet connection at any time of the day from any device – computers, smartphones and tablets.4. Automatic Updates: No longer do you have to manually update software when your software vendor provides an update. As SaaS applications are cloud-based, your provider will do the update, and the next time you log in, it will have been applied.Next in the series…A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Now that you understand what cloud computing is, in the next series we’ll cover off some of the hardware devices that will bring you one step closer to trotting out your kilt and blue face paint.Until next time!

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