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  Hi <<First Name>>,
You’ll notice this Abtrac newsletter is something a little different than the usual tips and tricks email.
We’ve had a lot of calls over the past quarter asking about changing technology, and about cloud computing in particular.  So this month I’ve included an update on where we see the future, what the cloud is all about, and how it fits in with Abtrac Version 6.
I hope you enjoy it,
Ed O’Leary 
Abtrac | Time Recording and Invoicing Software
e: | ph: 1800 218 434

  Edward O'Leary Director of Abtrac One of my clients told me recently 
“If I read one more email about cloud computing I’ll go crazy”
They’re also a good friend, so I saw that statement as a challenge I couldn’t resist.

What’s the Cloud all about?

How does it affect you and us and Abtrac?

The Cloud is the generic term used meaning “I don’t know where it actually is, but this programme works well for me as long as I have the internet”. Pedantically, there’s more to it than that. But that will do.
The movement of all software from based entirely on your own hardware to being somewhere in cyberspace is well under way. Its continuation is inevitable.
It’s driven by every one of us as we require access to information and services from wherever we are. Everyone is going mobile. You’ve only got to look at people as they walk the street or wait for the bus or train, or in airport lounges to see the impact mobile technology is having in our lives. I was emailed info about a survey released in the US on "50 Amazing Facts About Mobile and Marketing". Stats from here and UK reveal almost identical results.
Here are a few of my favourites from the survey:
  • More people use a mobile phone than a toothbrush (yuck!!)
  • 82% of adults use mobile phones in preference to landlines
  • 91% of those adults have their mobile phone within arm's reach 24/7
  • By next year (2013) mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common internet access device worldwide
And that’s just mobile phones. Smart phones, Tablets and iPads are something else again. They’re already the number one item on Santa’s list for children of all ages, leading the rest by a huge margin. Leggo and Barbie cannot compete.
At Abtrac, we know we won’t compete soon either unless we move. So we’re already well onto it.
Many of you already log into Abtrac remotely, either through an external hosting provider, or through an RDP connection to software hosted on your own company server. I do it myself when away, logging into our servers from my laptop or on a Galaxy. Many businesses have this, enabling directors and staff to work from home, any time, any day.
The hosted environment still requires you to log into a server, and from there you access your software. True Cloud means you only need an internet capable device like a smart phone, Tablet or iPad. You log directly onto your bank, on line shopping, or your favourite web site. Its’ just you, the device and the URL you’ve browsed to.
We are now re-writing Abtrac to be such a cloud based solution. That means everyone’s Abtrac database will be held externally in our cloud environment. We are using Microsoft servers where they guarantee 99.99% up time, with storage redundancy, data mirroring and of course backups. Abtrac will be accessible from any internet capable device from anywhere. We already have many screens developed. With Microsoft’s support we are currently testing levels of authentication to ensure only legitimate users can log in.  We’re testing data loadings, data access and user rights, along with links to MYOB, Quickbooks, Xero and Sage, plus the abilities to import, export and email that Abtrac has now.
It’s a big job. But we know that we ignore the cloud at our peril.
From the middle of next year we’re planning the cloud based version will be the only product we will be signing up new clients to. We have new staff and new skills. And the cloud solution enables us to have more rigorous automated testing regimes and faster turn-around times. We quietly excited about it – as IT people do get from time to time.
We will offer all of you the choice of converting to this new environment from 3rd quarter 2013 onwards. Upgrading everyone already on Abtrac will be staged over many months. But we will continue to support your current instance for some years, if you decide to stay with the status quo.
We will publish more about our progress in the cloud in coming months.
Meantime of course if you have any queries or concerns please contact us.

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