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Is Cloud Computing Practical for Advisors?

Most software today presents a choice: desktop or online. Think this one through carefully.

David J. Drucker, 03/25/2010

Greg Friedman and Ken Golding love the cloud. The problem is that it doesn't always love them.

As the producers of Junxure CRM software (Disclosure: Junxure was a sponsor of the Technology Tools for Today conference, of which I am a co-organizer), Friedman and Golding have watched certain competitors move to the Web or offer cloud-computing versions of their desktop products and, because this move seems almost inevitable, they've considered carefully how it might work for Junxure.

 "Everyone knows the cloud confers certain benefits," Friedman said. "It's widely believed your data is safer on the Web, that you get all--or most--of the functionality of a desktop system, and the cloud frees you up to work from anywhere." But these benefits don't come without a cost, Friedman added. In the case of Junxure, a highly robust CRM, the cost is the impossibility to giving users access to all of its many features in a browser-based version.

Of course, Junxure does have a Web presence, users may be quick to say, in the form of Junxure Web and Junxure Mobile. But these are designed to help remote users of the desktop product gain some additional functionality--not replacements for the desktop system.

I asked Friedman and Golding why they're content--for now at least--to stick to desktop software.

Friedman: First of all, don't get the impression I'm against the benefits of cloud computing. That would be a mischaracterization. I'm all for them. It's just that the practical issues surrounding the move of a system like Junxure to the Web are daunting. In considering how it might work, Ken and I have uncovered various considerations that argue against moving too quickly on that front.

Drucker: For example?

Friedman: One issue is speed. Within our wealth-management office, we decided we wanted to outsource Microsoft Exchange to a hosted solution. We made the decision to use CRM Software (Friedman's other company, which produces Junxure) to see how this would go. So we got rid of our server and went to e-mail hosting from the cloud. About four to five months into it, we found speed was a major issue. When we send e-mail with attachments, the problem is even worse. We have not done this with Private Ocean because I know our staff would complain.

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