Web Enabled vs Web Based? The great software debate

Ok, so...we have all heard the term "Web Based" or "Cloud Based" but do we all know what it truly means to be cloud based?

Cloud computing, also known as on-demand computing, is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. - Wikipedia

The term "cloud computing" or "cloud based" was used loosely in the early 1990's in the telecommunications industry.  It was a way of linking virtual private networks (VPN's) together.  We now not only use the term more freely but it is also a term we use and hear all the time.

In a recent ISS publication, a poll was conducted on what kind of management software people were using in the self storage industry.  The poll showed that 39% of self storage operators use web based (cloud based) software and 25% of those polled show that they use a web-enabled software.

Are those numbers accurate? Are people that are using Web-Enabled programs thinking that they are really using a Web Based program?  The number of users claiming that their software is cloud based seems high seeing as how some of the biggest management software providers in the industry are still just web-enabled.


What does it mean if your software is Web-enabled?

This means that your software is installed on a single computer by either downloading it from a link or inserting a CD into your computer and following the prompts to install the program on your operating system (either a Windows or Mac).  Once the program is installed, it communicates to the software providers servers for updates, bug fixes, and storing of and backing up of data.

Many of the storage facility owners that we speak to on a weekly basis often think they have a web-based software program when in all reality there software is only really web-enabled. One of the easiest ways to find out what type of software you are using is to try and access that program through your smart phone, tablet, or other device other than your office or home computer. Can you actually pull that software up (in its entirety) on a mobile device without needing to use a remote access program? Another good way to test whether your software is web-enabled or truly web-based is to find out or ask, "did I have to download anything on to an actual computer?". If you had to download something onto a computer to make the software work then it is not 100% web-based.

When you are looking at different software programs and companies here are a few that could offer a web-enabled setup, Sitelink, Syrasoft, and Storage Commander.

Web-based(Cloud Based), Whats all the fuss?

What does it mean if your software is Web-Based(Cloud-Based)?

This means that your software is not installed on a computer.  It is accessed by going to the Internet and logging in on a website through a web browsing program such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari.

This also means you may access your complete management software through a smart phone or other mobile device like a tablet or iPad. This also means you can access it from anywhere that you have the internet available, home, work, vacation, or even in another country.

Here are a few software programs and companies that we know are 100% web-based, Easy Storage Solutions, Doorswap, and StorEdge.

So whats all the hype about? Well let me share a few big reasons most software providers and users are going web-based. Even outside of the self storage industry, companies and programs are moving to a 100% web-based platform, here's why:

1- Software Updates: With a 100% web-based software program you don't have to worry about software updates. The updates are typically done at night, take a few mins of downtime, and then are ready to go the next time you open up your software program. You don't have to download anything or install anything. You don't have to worry about updating to Windows vista, 8 or 10. You don't have to worry about buying a MAC or PC. The software is always live, always updated, and always accessible through almost any device. Another good point to make with this subject is that you have less bugs to worry about. Because the software can be updated so easily that any bugs that arise can be fixed, tested, and updated very quickly. This makes the user experience better than waiting for a patch or update to come out. You also don't have to worry about backing up your data or losing your data because of some catastrophic data loss. The software company is backing up the data in multiple ways and places to prevent any kind of loss.

2- Accessibility: One of the biggest advantages of a web-based software program is the many ways and means you can access your data. For the majority of the self storage market having a full time manager is not in the cards. This often means that an owner or family member is helping manage the storage facility on the side of other jobs and businesses. Being able to access the software on a smartphone, take a payment, rent a unit, or look up a gate code while out of the office or out of town is a huge benefit. Because the software is so accessible it can increase the efficiency and profitability of the business almost immediately. This can be the difference between the storage facility being successful or unsuccessful. Not only are there huge benefits for the owner of the storage facility there are huge benefits to the end user. Potential tenants are able to be given a better experience and current tenants are able to be taken care of quicker and more efficient because it doesn't matter where the owner or manager is or what time of day it is they always have access to the software and ultimately to the information they need to take care of business.

3. Online Tools: Due to the nature of a web-based program, you can gain some of the most important online tools like; a website, recurring billing, online payments, online rentals, and email & txt message reminders, out of the box ready to go. You don't have to figure out how integrate your website (if you have one) with your management software. Because the software is web-based and you website is web-based they either make it really easy to integrate the two together or in some cases they actually provide you with a web-site as part of the software program. You can be up and running with a website, taking online payments and online rentals in hours and the process is smooth.

4. Cost: Because the software is so easily updated and able to be kept bug free it is typically inexpensive. A true web-based program should be reasonably priced because of the nature of how easy it is to keep it updated and supported. This is a win-win for the software provider and consumer. More on support below.

5. Support: One of the most important factors for any company is support. Web-based software programs are able to be supported much easier than a web-enabled program. This is because the software company can access the information alongside the owner or manager and see exactly what they are looking at and often just fix the issue for them because they also have access. This again is a huge plus for the software provider and consumer and is one of the main reasons again that the cost can be so inexpensive.