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Cloud Computing

POS SOFTWARE

Cloud computing is when you do not have the software on your computer but run online on someone else computer.

Latest night, one of our users contact us because Xero was not working. We thought it might have been their password, so we recommended that they changed it. But, they told us that they could not log in to change the password. So we investigated and discovered that Xero was down. Xero admitted the problem. Unfortunately it did not release an ETA time when it would be fixed, something I'm not too fond. Luckily it was not the end of the month, all we could is wait. I did check about 2 am and was relieved to see it was fixed.

This incident highlights one main problem of the cloud: many factors need to happen to make it work. Often like Xero here, besides both your own and Xero computer and equipment, it needs a continuous internet connection to make it work. So the best you can do with the internet connection often is Telstra or Optus and both go down.

That is why we recommend critical systems, e.g. EFTPOS, have a *LOCAL* mode to work offline. That way, if the cloud goes down, you can still function.

That is also why our POS System has a hybrid cloud option.

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POS SOFTWARE

 

Cloud computing is incredible.

As this woman above shows, you can be anywhere. This picture was taken at the snow. As long as you have a decent internet connection, you can get into your system. During the COVID lockdown, many clients ran much of their business using the cloud from home. It works great. It is also great for linking if you have several shops into one system. 

Conducting your computer activities through the cloud is now getting more popular. 

Yet, cloud computing depends on your Internet connection. Here are some notable problems with the internet now.

Few people buy high commercial grade internet. I have seen $5,000 a month quoted. For most, it is not worth it, so they buy a cheaper system trusting the claims, which often dubious. If you are our clients, you can call us, and our internet people can help you here. 

Now the internet is under strain since COVID hit. Traffic has skyrocketed. I have clients whose internet often now comes to a halt when it gets busy online. 

When something goes, wrong technicians are harder to get them out to fix the problem. The days of the internet going down and a technician coming the next day is over. It is so frustrating. I know people who have now been waiting for a year to connect to broadband despite being told it was available. 

With the cloud, sometimes it goes quickly and sometimes it takes forever. Get used to that, because it is not changing soon.

In many places, the internet is not up to scratch. 

To make it work, you need all the business-critical software you run on the cloud to have *offline syncing*. If there is a network problem, at least you can work. When the access is restored, the software will automatically sync the files. This way, you run your system on the computers where you are *local mode*. So you have the speed of local computers and the benefit of the cloud.

To do this, you need cloud architecture. It involves emergency internet connections and computers that can handle the replication of data.

We call this hybrid cloud. We have it.

Also if you are running email over the cloud, consider using off-line mode eg Gmail.

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POS SOFTWARE

Despite everyone going on, Moore's law has peaked, and computers are not getting much faster; well I beg to differ. People want speed. Look at this machine speed specs—our latest servers.

Computer fan

 

Passmark speed

 

It ranks in the top 82% of computers.

Passmark speed

This computer can copy a full movie in half a second. To get that speed, we had to replace the cables with cat8. These have to be the most powerful computers in our marketplace.

 

Cat8 cables

 

If you want some comparison, these servers look at the Mendel range we were selling about a year ago.  

 

Passmark speed

Speed is double. Disk mark is seven times faster.

This is the machine to beat!

 

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POS SOFTWARE

 

With our point of sale, there is a range of solutions for remote working. There are many advantages to doing so for one thing it saves time. You do not have to travel to work to get the information you require, and you can work whenever. The other now is that it increases social distance.

Also, it may be very useful now to set up cloud computing or VPN because if you have staff that can work from home, I am sure that they will appreciate it too.

 

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POS SOFTWARE

 

When I talked to one of my clients who was close to the fires, what did help a little was that their data was in the cloud. Years ago, we often saw in such emergencies merchant would stay in the shop and do a backup before running.  Nowadays although doing the onsite backup is a good idea, the urgency was not there. 

With us, unlike many other Point of Sale providers, cloud backup is free!  

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Cloud_storage

Data has always been essential to business, in the olden days' Australian bushrangers used to threaten to burn shop keepers books, unless they got paid. It was not a small threat as most shops depended on farmers on lived on credit.  

Data is still essential, and although few want to discuss ‘disaster’ in today’s world as these bushfires show your data is under constant threat. Imagine how your business would run without essential banking, customer and inventory data? Computers can be replaced, data cannot be replaced.

There are many advantages for you to do a cloud backup.

1. Access: You get access to your data wherever you have internet access. For example, you can access your company's data from home, overseas on holidays, etc.

2. Reliability: If anything is wrong with your regular backups, you have an emergency set online.

3. Easier to use: Because it is automated, there is less to remember or do, often it can be set up, so it is entirely automatic.

Two significant disadvantages to consider are:

1. The Internet: It will chew up a fair amount of Internet usage. Often people report that it slows down their system. If so, we may need to see what we can do.

2. Size limitations: If your data file grows too big, you may find your backup suddenly stops.

3. Check: You need to check regularly that it is working.

We have put together here a document that can show you how to set up a free cloud backup. Please click here.

Comments

Bernard,
What cloud storage do you suggest for backups close to 10GB? My backup file is 9.2GB so I assume it will not be too long before i have potential issues with uploading a file this size. What impact will the compression process have on this file size?
Cheers

At that size, you may want to consider a paid plan. For about $80, you get a 1000 GB plus a whole lot of extras, like Microsoft office and ransomware protection.

 

 

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POS SOFTWARE

 

One question, I get asked a lot is why does a cloud backup take so long?

The big problem is that the initial point of sale data is so big and there is a lot of data to back up.

There does not seem to be a pattern as sometimes it goes quickly and sometimes it takes forever. Part of the problem is that few SMB have commercial grade internet. So in my experience, the backup times are at least double the times quoted by the salesmen for cloud backups.

This seems to be what others report too.

https://www.cloudwards.net/how-long-should-my-backup-take/

So if you the most backup software says it's six hours for the initial backup. I would suggest you budget 12 hours.

After that many of the cloud backup software can take advantage that it has a copy and so only requires a smaller amount of time to send down, this is what we call sending the changes. How big are these changes depends on many factors including your software, whether you use encryption on your database (note you should not do this if you intend to use cloud backup which is a security issue to many people in itself), how much work you do and your cloud backup software?  Still, I would budget about double the quoted figure times quoted as a first level approximation.

All this is often not the problem in itself as the computer is just left on till its done what the problem usually is, is that while it is doing the backup the internet in the shop runs very slow. People complain that they cannot get an email, they cannot order and that if they are using EFTPOS, it does not work.

One option I do suggest is that you set your cloud backup to only work when the shop is closed say your shop runs from 6 am to 9 pm, have your cloud backup only operate between 10 pm and 5 am. This also has advantages as far as ransomware is concerned too.

Note most of our clients that use cloud backup software use it as an emergency backup to their regular backup. 

 

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Cloud point of sale

Cloud base is all the buzz now. What it means is that your information is stored on another computer and generally accesses over the internet.

As a company, we have no views on the subject but here is a discussion on some of the ramifications for point of sale systems.

Location

The big plus with cloud is that you can be anywhere as long as you have an internet connection you can access your information. It can be a convenient function particularly if you have several locations.

 

working on cloud point of sale

Budgeting

Cloud systems are generally easier to budget. A fixed fee sets much but not all the hardware and technical aid required.

The disadvantages are several.

Complex

A cloud system is more complicated. Generally, they are run a hybrid system which means they are both cloud and local.

Cost

The cloud is dearer as you need to purchase a good internet service. What we recommend an emergency internet connection as well just in case the primary internet goes down and/or a local computer to act as an emergency server in each location.

Security

If you access cloud anywhere for your information, it is almost sure that other people can access it too. You have very little control over how it is stored and where it is stored. You are looking at a legal issue this could be a problem. You have no idea what the cloud provider is doing with your data.

If the cloud provider closes now which I have seen then your data is possibly gone unless you have a backup. If you have a backup, it is generally a new installation to get you up and running if they close down.

Reliability

If something goes wrong with either the internet and/or the cloud provider, then there is often little you can do until they fix it. Now, these both generally claim about a 99.9% reliability. I think these reliabilities are greatly exaggerated What they mean here by reliability is no service, going slow often does not count in this calculation. But let us assume it is true, that means a shop running 363 days a year, 8 hours a day, then it will be down about 6 hours a year. If you have two locations say two shops or a shop and a warehouse, you can double this to 12 hours. If say you ran an average of 10 hours a day your shop and many of my clients would be running more then you could increase this by 25%.

Without emergency systems in place No internet = No business

This would not include going slow and going slow is a significant problem in a cloud. Come for example 6 pm in a residential area, when many people switch on cable TV to watch something, and all the internet in the area runs slow. Instead of processing in a register going beep, beep, beep, it goes beep (wait) , beep (wait) , beep (wait) . Queues are building up.

Speed

Cloud is slower however with our POS system because it uses a good quality SQL you may not notice the speed drop.

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POS SOFTWARE

More and more we see the need for a faster and reliable Internet network in for point of sale. The biggest problem now is that as cable TV gets more popular, retailers are reporting particularly in peak periods that their Internet slows right down so as such we are switching as much of our POS software internet for after hours.

The issue is that many of the services are critical to a business like EFTpos which also can slow down and in some occasions just cuts off in these periods. Cut EFTpos and you can cut half of most retail today. That is not to mention other services like email, which are critical for a modern business. I would argue that the Internet is now after power the more important service a retailer requires before telephone, water and gas. So you need to choose carefully.

Australia itself has a reasonable Internet service with several good players. If you are interested you can get a feel of our country status by clicking here from the state of the Internet report by Akamai which is considered the best report on this subject.

Of course, you can make many different conclusions depending on what position you hold, for example, since 2007, we have fallen behind New Zealand, but you could say that New Zealand is a small country and its not a fair comparison. You could also argue that Russia is a bigger country, the people are considerably poorer yet they are doing much better on the Internet then us. Alternatively, you could say that compared to US, we have improved relatively. So be careful before making any conclusions.
 

Selecting an ISP

You need to consider who is going to be your Internet supplier very carefully. It's a great idea to simply walk around your proposed shop location and talk to similar business near you. That is what I did before we moved into our new office. It also gave me a great chance to introduce myself, and I learnt a lot. For example, one ISP people complained was slow in my area and that another one continuously was having network problems.

You will find its great getting a good deal, but also you need to include in the calculation the cost to your business of your customers, staff and you sitting around waiting because your Internet is slow or down.

Perhaps the most highly regarded comparison between ISPs in Australia is the Netflix, who after all monitors more Internet connections then anyone in Australia. You can click here for the latest result. June 2016 looks like this, note how quickly they can change.

From this, you can get a feel of what the overall speeds are like.

Another good site worth visiting is Aussie Outrages here which gives you a feel of how reliable. An Internet service is.

This is what Optus looks like today

 


Here are some other good questions to ask.

What are the contract lengths and what happens if I break it?


What are the limits on the amount of data I can download each month and what happens if I exceed the limit? One kid in one shop costed the owner quite a bit when he used youtube nonstop for a month.

What are my speeds?

Procedure for support?

How is payment done?

 

Hope this helps.

POS SOFTWARE

Many people today want to backup to the cloud.

The problem is that with the growing amount of information being created now everyday, its getting harder to store an emergency copy of their information. The problem of course is if they lose this information, they have no business.

There are several advantages to using cloud. The one I like most is that it can be done by an automatic “set and forget it” model so resulting in less operational and administrative management for data backup. I no longer have the problem of everyday going home with a tape.

Users of ours have two main alternatives for cloud, and I am not recommending either until our current trials are completed. The first is to use a commercial company like Microsoft onedrive which is $2/month,
There are of course many other excellent providers of cloud backup too that our clients use.

The other solution is to create your own cloud of which several good programs allow you to do. Two that I recommend you look at are.



goodsync

and

allwaysync


Both solutions automatically, whenever a file change in your backup directory put a copy of that file in a safe location which can be a wide range of devices.

Now when I come home from work, every evening I have the latest copy plus old copies of my information waiting for me.

 

Our smart software means Life is BETTER :-)