Real estate is a mobile industry. While there are offices in the majority of towns, properties are listed in remote areas, skyscrapers, and suburban subdivisions. For this reason, it’s an industry that screams for the ability to handle business in the field. Understanding the types of cloud models, their limitations and ability to protect privacy, and how cloud computing can make a life for Realtors(r) and others in the industry easier will help answer the question as to whether or not cloud computing is right for your real estate firm.
Cloud as a Service
Cloud computing conjures up an idea of data floating in the area, ready to be plucked with a few clicks of the mouse or swipes of the finger but it’s a little more complex than that. Cloud providers host information differently, and that is what delineates cloud computing into three different models. Understanding these is the first step in deciding how cloud computing will work for your real estate firm.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
This is one of the most popular Cloud as a service models. It works great with small and medium firms because the vendor is in charge of the application uptime, performance, and updates.
For a real estate firm, a very popular application is Office365. All your firm needs to do is buy the right amount of licenses for the team. Then, after usernames and passwords are setup for each user, they will have access to email, ability to share listings and specs, small data sheets, photos of properties and other documents accessible and manageable on the go. This data will be available as long the users have the right credentials and internet access. There is no need to install the application on the device in use. However, it does provide the user the option to install locally if they prefer the functionality.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
These days phone applications that allow clients to find available properties on the go are very popular. If your firm is interested in creating one of these applications, platform as a service is the cloud model to for you.
With platform as a service, real estate firms can develop an application, as well as test and run the application or specific software that can transform the process of finding new properties in the market.
Even though your firm might need a skilled team of developers to create the application, with this cloud model you won’t have to worry about operational hardware or software costs.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Many real estate firms deal with large amounts of data from all the properties that continue to open and close in the market. If all this data is slowing down your IT environment, uploading it to a virtual server might be the right move for you. This way all the infrastructure backups and resiliency is taken care by the provider while the firm can manipulate their data fast at any time.
The main benefit of this cloud model is it provides real estate firms the agility to increase their data volume without worrying about running out of storage space, hardware updates, and maintenance cost.
Limitations of Cloud Computing Real Estate Professionals Should Note
Like other servers, cloud computing systems can be breached. It is imperative that providers be thoroughly vetted before being charged with maintaining data. If the cloud is being managed in-house, the professionals handling this must be versed, not simply in general security, but also all regulatory matters connected to the real estate industry. Cloud computing is an excellent tool to leverage in real estate to gain a competitive edge. Just make sure to partner with the correct provider for you specific business requirements.
Cloud Computing: Real Estate’s New Best Friend
The mobility of cloud computing & real estate make them a natural pair. A firm or group of cooperating firms who leverage the benefits of Cloud Computing correctly, can dramatically improve their agents productive, as well as reduce their overall IT spend. A SaaS models like Office365 are great for simple sharing, collaborating and scheduling.
For larger sets of data, like listings, contracts, financial information and other confidential information, a private virtual server in an IaaS cloud model might be the best option.
No matter which route your real estate firm takes, work with a professional IT consultant to examine your cloud computing options. Real estate is quicker, easier, and more efficient when you leverage the cloud.
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