Cloud solutions today are everywhere, and we rely on them heavily in our daily lives. From GPS navigation software to office suites to over-the-top video streaming, cloud technology is ubiquitous. Yet when the first version of C4T’s Customs Accounting Software (CAS) was designed, cloud technology was not as common as it is today. It was obvious that a cloud transformation was coming, though, and in recent years the nature of business for both C4T and our customers has evolved to a point where a constant connection to the internet is a bare necessity. This makes a cloud-based solution and all of the advantages that go with it a superior business choice. The constraints of on-premise systems seem almost archaic in contrast.
First, you would have to decide where to put the solution—in which country, subsidiary, or even on which computer. Cloud technology does not present this challenge, since users can access it from all over the world. Just as international trade is becoming more and more borderless, software is expected to as well, offering global accessibility. An on-premise software solution would also not be able to adapt nearly as easily to current trends in international commerce and customs, nor would it be able to scale to meet the challenges that companies will face in the years and decades to come.
By choosing a cloud architecture, both C4T and our customers benefit from the latest technology running on the highest level of infrastructure security and with an advanced failsafe/back-up plan. The choice of SaaS, acronymous for Software as a Service, turned out to be the most logical cloud solution for CAS.
When compared to on-premise systems, the benefits of cloud platforms are many. Consider these seven examples.
- Unprecedented scalability Cloud software can be scaled to accommodate more locations, additional users, higher performance, and increased storage on demand.
- Redundancy and geo-replication Back-ups are available in different regions to protect against system failure and allow for full data recovery.
- Data residence Cloud platforms allow you to choose the country in which your data storage and backups occur. In this manner, your data doesn’t end up in a country where you don’t want it to be, which can be useful for legal purposes.
- Cost optimization Cloud platforms can be adjusted to exactly the size you need for your business, so you only pay for what you use.
- Close proximity Data centers can be installed close to the customer location to assure speed, performance, and a positive user experience.
- Security and compliance Cloud providers are responsible for complying with infrastructure security standards and certifying compliance via audits.
- Lower maintenance and support Cloud negates the need to deliver and support different software versions. The version available in production is always the latest version. In case of bugs, the production version can be updated immediately and made available to all users at the same time.
There are numerous providers of cloud platforms, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure being some of the most prominent. At a high level, each provides very similar solutions, however as one looks closer there are distinct nuances, making the decision process very difficult and often relegated to a matter of taste and experience.
In the case of C4T, we chose Azure as our cloud platform based on the first-class support we receive from Microsoft. The tech team at C4T receives training from Microsoft on a regular basis, most of the time at no cost. We also have access to highly specialized experts that help us design, develop, improve, and run our cloud solutions in a very efficient way. This delivers added value to our customers because we are able to provide them with the best solution possible. In addition, data centers regularly undergo audits to certify their compliance with the high infrastructure security standards of Microsoft Azure.
Azure is not the cheapest cloud platform to run, but when we factor in the cost savings of choosing the right technology the first time—which was only possible with the engaged support of Microsoft—it has turned out to be the best solution for both C4T and our customers. The fluid scalability of Azure as CAS continues to grow reinforces our belief that the benefits outweigh any other cloud platform on the market.