We’re often asked why we describe our cloud-based practice management software, Gentu, as True Cloud software, rather than simply cloud software. Believe it or not, there’s a need to make the distinction, and it’s an important one.
Some cloud software providers use the word “cloud” to denote software that is actually a combination of cloud technologies and other applications installed on your desktop, called middleware. If you think this sounds like a bit of an ethical grey area, it is. Because in some ways, these local applications defeat the purpose of using cloud software.
So what is middleware?
Middleware applications are a bit like software glue – they bind an array of software systems like components, application support and secure messaging, together in one place.
In our experience, middleware is not only annoying to install and update regularly on every computer in your practice, it’s susceptible to the same performance and compatibility issues you see in desktop software built 20 years ago.
If you’re required to install middleware to use your cloud software, it’s usually a sign of cost-cutting on technical development, so tools and services can be delivered to you faster.
Unfortunately, any cost saved by the software provider is at the expense of a safe, reliable and seamless user experience for you – and that’s not a sacrifice we’re willing to make.
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to say all middleware is inherently bad – it’s just different. So here is a short summary of the pros and cons of middleware.
Pros of using middleware
- Enables real-time flow of information with and among separate systems – i.e. scanning and secure messaging between your practice and a lab
- It can work like a glue to connect a wide array of software systems, from disparate components, to application support, to secure messaging, and more in the one place
- It can help streamline processes
Cons of using middleware
- Harder to update and more expensive to maintain – particularly as your practice grows
- Unlike True Cloud software, there are no benchmarks for real-time performance
- Dependency on applications external to your software provider risks both security and reliability
See here for more on our True Cloud product, Gentu.