In June of this year, Advance Realty USA made the move to cloud computing with Google Apps and in July we began training our brokers and agents. We have freed ourselves from file server bondage and we haven't looked back. The change has been dramatically liberating. We have been freed from diminutive email storage limitations, we have the best spam filter on the market with Gmail, we have been granted simultaneous access to documents, and all the wonders of everything Google Apps that I cram into an hour's training overview like an out of control freight train.
So what does 'cloud computing' mean exactly? It means that your applications and file storage are completely internet based and operated; all you need is a laptop or netbook--and in some cases a smart phone--and with an internet connection you can write and send a document, spreadsheet, drawing, share files with coworkers, friends, family, collaborate simultaneously on files and watch--in real time--as others are making changes and you can even chat with them--in the document--while they're working on it. It means that an entire office can be run without the need for a file server, network cabling, and an IT 'department' or service provider.
Most agents these days have laptops, Ipads or netbooks and are a mobile workforce. A broker with a cloud-based system only needs to provide desk/counter space and chairs, maybe a printer or two and an internet connection with a wireless router. Forget the file servers, the network cabling, and buying software applications. Forget having to worry about version control and updates and upgrades because cloud computing applications update themselves automatically.
Mobility is the word of the day in the cloud because you can access everything from everywhere on any kind of operating system or computer. If you're visiting someone and they have a Mac but you've done all your work on a PC, no problem! You can still access everything the same way you would on your computer because you're going to a website on the internet--they don't need to have any software installed because all you have to do is logon! And all of the documents you create with Google apps can be converted to .doc, .xls, .pdf, .ppt files so that if you want to send it to someone who is not yet in the cloud--they can open it in Microsoft Office. How cool is that?
Peace of mind is something that comes with cloud computing because you never have to worry about 'leaving a file on the office computer' or getting to the office only to realize you 'left a file on your home computer'. Its in the cloud, all the time AND it AUTO-SAVES! You don't even have to remember to save your document because Google does it for you! And on top of that, it remembers every change you make so you can revert back to an older copy if you want to undo your changes!
Let's face it, we all know that hardware fails and that's exactly what a file server is...a piece of machinery that WILL break down eventually. All of our laptops, desktops, notebooks....they'll all wear out or get broken/lost/stolen. If all of your work, pictures, and files are in the cloud you can pop over to the library, the office, a friend's house and print out that contract, addendum, email etc., and keep right on going without skipping a beat.
Many applications are moving to the cloud-based technology and so will you....you just don't know it yet. Want an example? How about Zipforms Online? Or Docusign?
And the best part about Google Apps is that you can have it all for FREE! Click here for an informational video.