Guest Posts, The Resident Connection, Written Posts

Getting Multifamily’s Head In The Clouds – a guest post from Bill Szczytko aka @BSitko

3 Comments 21 June 2011

The talk these days among IT guys is “What business practices can we push into the cloud?” Cloud computing is, among many things, a great way to save money, resources and helps with your green initiatives. Cloud computing, for those who don’t stare at monitor screens all day compiling code, is a pretty boring topic for most people. Who cares right? If you’re thinking that way, maybe I can change your mind some. Cloud computing is a way to improve your productivity, help you get organized better, and give you 24 hour access to your data; plus it’s where technology is headed.

Apple recently announced its new service the iCloud. For anyone who has tried to keep their iTunes playlist correct across multiple computers, you know what kind of a pain in the rump it can be. iCloud is a cool service and will let you store all of your documents, photos, and iTunes music so it will be accessible anywhere. The iCloud service shows you where this cloud stuff is headed. If you think about it, you really don’t need local storage anymore. If you’re willing to pay the money for it over the internet and your connection is fast, you can do away with having a hard drive at all. Look at what Google has done with its new Chromebook. This thing has very little drive space built in, it requires a Google account and internet access to use it, and everything runs right from a browser window. No program installs, no viruses, and no My Documents folder (GASP!). We’re on the cusp of something much bigger here… an evolution in how we compute.

What’s the point for Multifamily?
Multifamily is starting to recognize the future. Property Management systems have been web based for years and most new installs are no longer self hosted. Why do nightly backups yourself? Why run the risk of having Julie spill her coffee into your accounting system? Let Yardi or RealPage handle that stuff. We are always spreadsheeting (yes it’s a verb) in the office, ever get home and wish you could access one of them to tweak a number? The cloud lets you do that. Why store your favorite marketing templates on your machine? Shove it on a free service like Dropbox or and access it from anywhere. Put important stuff you want to be able to access whenever you want. Have a smartphone? Download the service’s app and access your data on it too. Want to backup your important files from your computer? Use a service like Mozy where it will setup times to run on your MAC or PC and upload your important stuff into the cloud, so you don’t have to panic if your son finger paints your keyboard. Heck they even have fax machines in the cloud too! Who said faxes were dead? The machines themselves might be but faxing isn’t. Don’t forget about those photo sharing sites too. Flickr, Photobucket… why store those property photos on sites for them to email prospects? BORING! Much better to email them a link to the tons of pictures you have of the property and let the prospect make up their own mind about what they’d like to see.

It’s not all roses and rainbows.
Your data isn’t as secure in the cloud as it would be sitting on your computer. I wouldn’t put your credit card information up there or directions to find your wallet. Hackers love hacking… just ask Sony. Don’t let fear stop you from taking the plunge though. I’m sure hackers don’t care about the spreadsheet you have related to your Beanie Baby collection.

What’s your companies’ strategy as it relates to the cloud? Are you planning on moving more and more of your data there? What about you personally? There’s been a shift over the last few years and you’re seeing the groundswell more as things move to the cloud. Sure it might not rent you more apartments but so is not answering the phone. Some of you out there are doing that. Oops… went there didn’t I?

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