Cloud architecture or browser-based web applications are becoming staples of business and enterprise-level software systems. Internet behemoths like Salesforce run their entire suite of business applications exclusively through the cloud. How is this strategy relevant to the cannabis industry as compared to a more traditional windows desktop application design?
Leading seed-to-sale companies prefer both strategies. MJ Freeway relies on the cloud for its services, whereas BioTrackTHC runs a desktop application supported by an in-house centralized database. Both models have benefits and problems, below I’ll explain why we prefer using the cloud.
Reduce hardware complexity
The desktop approach typically requires more hardware and networking than web apps. It’s advantageous to have an on-site IT resource to help setup and maintain all the moving parts. For many smaller dispensaries this is may not be a viable option.
By moving your system onto the web you no longer need to invest and maintain those hardware and labor costs. Software upgrades and fixes happen instantaneously across the application without needing any technical help.
Foolproof data backup
Instead of your data living on one server or a collection of desktops in your dispensary, it will now be securely backed-up across many cloud servers. Losing a server or a back-up will no longer expose your business to data loss.
The cloud approach enables apps to be accessed from any location on any device. Sales and inventory reports can be managed and maintained remotely.
Dependence on internet access and connectivity
Probably the biggest issue with a cloud-based web application is the constant need for internet access. Dropping your connection could lead to loss sales and customers.
Browser-based applications can be designed for offline usage. Google Mail has an offline mode that allows you to compose emails, which are delivered once connectivity is reestablished. Our system works similarly. When a business loses their internet, they can still run customers through the checkout process. Those transactions are synced with the cloud when connectivity is available again.
Another problem with web-accessible systems is that they are more exposed to hackers.
Properly implemented security in both the network and application can go a long way in mitigating this risk. Solid encryption, secure access points, and realtime monitoring are all foundations of our point-of-sale system.
There are many considerations when deciding on a system. We do feel strongly about the capabilities of the web, and would love to learn more from Colorado dispensary owners about their experience.