Here’s a list of common questions (and brief answers) that museums and private collectors with sizable collections tend to ask when considering Vesica. If you have more questions you would like added to the list or require more in-depth answers, please comment or get in touch.
Is the cloud reliable / how often would the application go down?
The cloud is reliable – very reliable. In fact, it is probably almost always going to be more reliable than any software application you deploy in-house. Sure, there are outages, but they are rare. Cloud providers like Vesica backup your data several times in the day too – so even if there are unanticipated circumstances, the application and data can almost always be brought back. Let’s put it into perspective, the cloud is as reliable as Amazon, Google, Microsoft Hotmail / Azure / Office 365 are. If you use any of their services, you are already using the cloud.
Will we really save any money?
Yes, a lot of money. Simply put, if you adopt a cloud solution, especially one like Vesica for Collections management, you don’t have to pay to purchase, maintain and upgrade servers. You don’t have to pay IT staff to setup and maintain these machines or networks. You don’t need to get into or get involved with complicated licensing or long term contracts for desktop software. This applies to virtually ALL cloud applications. Vesica can help museums save 30-60% of their existing cost for collections management systems deployed in-house. It also offers you a lot of added functionality out-of-the-box, like portability via an API, with zero additional costs or modules.
Do we need to backup our data? If so, what are our options?
Do you backup your hotmail or gmail email? If you don’t, you don’t need to back up your cloud applications either.
However, if you’re still getting comfortable with the idea of moving into the cloud, most applications will allow you some kind of an XML formatted backup which can be exported into other databases or software applications in the same industry. You can get a CDWA Lite compliant XML backup in Vesica. You can even download all your media separately – we’re considering wrapping it all up together to let you get a compressed backup file, but for clients in excess of 100GB, many don’t have any way to open those files, so it’s best to import the XML backup into another application.
To put things into perspective, most people using Windows 7 cannot open a file larger than 4GB – compressed or not.
How do cloud providers like Vesica backup their data?
Different providers have different policies, but everyone backs up regularly – it’s part of being a service provider. Incremental backups are and can be deployed across multiple sites along with full data backups at several locations. It’s really quite safe and cost effective and feasible due to the economies of scale involved.
Will the price ever go up?
For most cloud providers, this is unlikely (at least in the near future), unless the way the tech industry works changes drastically or the US Dollar, sterling or dare I say, Euro, collapses.
Can we enter information in foreign languages?
Yes. MOST cloud applications support UTF-8 encoding which has built-in support for foreign languages. That should include everything from Arabic to Hebrew to Mandarin.
Do we need to involve IT?
Typically, no. Because for most cloud applications, all you need is a computer / phone / tablet pc with an internet connection.
How does cloud or web-based software work with our website?
Most cloud applications, by their nature of being delivered as a service, come with Application Programming Interfaces, which effectively allow you to integrate them with other applications, similar to how you would a desktop based database that you had access to (although many of these might require you to purchase additional add-ons to web enable them). Using this Application Programming Interface, you can extract information that sits in your cloud based application and display it any which way you want on your website. It’s not complicated, but it does require the ability to develop websites. Many cloud software providers also have modules available for third party CMS’ which your website may use – that effectively means you’ll be up and running with a few clicks. Vesica, for instance, will have a Drupal module that can seamlessly integrate your collections with your website later this year.
How can we get data in and out of cloud based collections software?
You can generally extract all the data as XML. Depending on the nature of the application and what you store, it may be feasible for you to get CSV files or download all your media as 1 compressed file.
As a museum, what opportunities does switching to the cloud present us with?
Many. The cloud allows you to save money and focus your efforts on what you do, whether that’s conserving, preserving, educating or engaging your community without having to worry about technical staff, technical problems, upgrades, downtime or any technology driven financial inconsistencies. It takes a slightly different mindset to adopt the cloud, but for museums that do, it is a liberating experience.