You’ve no doubt heard of The Cloud. You know…that invisible place where companies from Apple to Oracle want you to move all your digital stuff? Unfortunately, it can be difficult to separate marketing about The Cloud from cloud computing itself, and so it’s hard to decide if using the technology will benefit your organization. So let’s start with this question: What is cloud computing?
In the most straightforward sense, cloud computing is the ability to store your applications and data in a remote location – instead of on a server at your site – and access them via the Internet. Rather than owning and maintaining the hardware that runs your software, your rent storage and processing power, often reducing the internal costs of maintaining those things yourself. And cloud-based software? Those are just applications running in that remote environment and accessed by you through an Internet browser like Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox. Because they run in a browser, cloud-based products often operate on mobile devices such as an iPad, iPhone, Android device, or tablet. You can learn more about cloud computing in our Clearing up Confusion on Cloud Computing blog post.
But for now, let’s apply this basic definition to Sage’s newest offering: Sage 100c. Specifically, let’s consider Stephen Kelly’s claim made at Sage Summit this year that Sage 100c is a cloud-based product. In fact, Sage 100c is the same software product as Sage 100 (formally known as MAS 90/200), only with a slightly improved user interface. Let me say that again to avoid confusion: Sage 100c is Sage 100. Both Sage 100 and Sage 100c have nearly the exact same technology, which is not “internet friendly” without some help. Sage 100c is not a cloud-based technology product. It was designed to reside on a local server at an office location.
Here’s where the confusion lies…
We can host Sage 100c for you by putting it on our servers (an off-site data center), or you can host it elsewhere on somebody else’s servers. By doing so your solution becomes accessible via The Cloud. But we can also host Sage 100 for you, if you already own it. We can host Microsoft Office and SQL server, too. By moving any application to a data center, you take advantage of cloud technology in a safe and secure environment. Advanced hosting environments like SaaS (Software as a Service) will even automatically update your software with the latest and greatest changes as part of your SaaS agreement. But hosting software in The Cloud does not automatically make that software cloud-based.
Sage 100c doesn’t run in a SaaS environment, it isn’t available on your mobile devices, and you can’t access the program itself with an Internet browser (a browser will only get you to the cloud-hosted environment where Sage is installed). So the difference between Sage 100 and Sage 100c isn’t really about the technology. The true difference is that Sage 100c is sold by subscription only. That means you are renting the software monthly or annually, but you never own it. Unlike your already-purchased Sage 100 software, Sage has the ability to change 100c into read-only mode if you don’t make a rental payment within 45 days of that payment being due. If you can’t make that rental payment, you won’t be able to enter new things into Sage 100c – you’ll only be able to see your historical data.
I can certainly understand why new clients might like the “perpetual rental” model that is Sage 100c – it is a lot less expensive to get into the software in the first place. They don’t have the investment in the product that our existing Sage 100 (MAS 90/MAS200) clients have paid for over the years. But if you already own Sage 100…?
Let’s use the analogy of a home. You purchased your house, and for clients who have been using Sage 100 (MAS 90/200) for years, you’ve been making the annual “maintenance” payments in order to keep your house up to date and operational. And – it’s your house! Even if you don’t make that annual maintenance payment to improve your house, you can still live in it! (It might fall apart in places, but we can help with that and you can still live in it!) By switching to Sage 100c, you’re giving up the house that you paid for years ago and are agreeing to rent your house from here on out. If you don’t make that monthly rental payment, then you’ll basically be evicted.
Sage Software will most likely call you about moving to Sage 100c. The representative will tell you that they normally charge a setup fee for the “move” (which is $500 - $800 per user, depending on the Sage 100 modules you are using). The incentive that Sage is offering for existing clients of Sage 100 to move to Sage 100c is that they’ll waive that setup fee if you move by the end of September.
My question is: Why would you give away your house?
My suggestion – and what I’m planning to do – is: Stay put. If you already own Sage 100, don’t give away your house until you see if Sage is going to make major improvements as part of the new rental program.