Overview


Your VETLINKSQL application can be provided as a fully cloud hosted solution or installed on premise. With several hundred users now utilising our solution, we have users in both camps for various reasons. It’s best not to discount any one solution until you have read through this page as some information may be more thought-provoking than you may have anticipated. VETLINKSQL’s cloud solution is quite different to many others. Pay particular attention to any “Disaster Recovery” plan you may have, as well as Disaster Recovery strategy off a cloud d environment in case of the provider’s demise or your own decision to move to another application in future. Many well run and structured organisations require such a plan as part of their due diligence to protect them from business interruption. In any case, this should not mean that any smaller practice should not also think this through.

CLOUD HOSTED VETLINKSQL


Many practices do not want the hassle of maintaining a local server in their building and wish to simply login and start using their software. They also do not want an upfront capital cost and future upgrades that come with owning a physical box. Computer Fanatics Limited has invested and committed significant funds and resources into a managed cloud environment on the AWS (Amazon Web Services) platform where VETLINKSQL can be hosted for your practice. For users, there is no server to maintain and no real need for an engineer except for local hardware and printers that connect to the internet. You can access the application from almost any device including PCs, Macs, Tablets, and Smart Phones. The entire server as well as your data is automatically backed up.

What is different about the cloud hosted VETLINKSQL solution is that you get your own fully managed virtual server running Windows 2012R2 which has no physical or electronic connection to anyone else’s. This provides complete security and isolation as well as an industry standard operating system that allows other applications to be hosted in the cloud, on your very own environment, if required. If you are selecting a solution delivered via the cloud, it is important to clarify how you will run any other applications that you may require access to going forward. It is also important to make sure that you have a reliable and fast internet service, plus a Disaster Recovery solution.

ON-PREMISE SOLUTION


Many practices prefer the application to be installed on premise for many different reasons including security of data, availability, or lack of availability of a fast and reliable internet connection. Many smaller practices, quite rightly in some cases, select to install it on local machines that they would have to purchase in any case to access the application even if it was hosted. It is important to note that VETLINKSQL DOES NOT require an actual “server” to run, except for larger clinics. For the smaller clinic, the advantage is that VETLINKSQL will happily run on a standard Windows PC with any OS from Windows 7 onwards and still be able to serve several other workstations within the practice. The thinking for such practices is that they have a simple network of standard PCs and do not have to rely on any internet issues, ever. Any failure of the main PC means the application and data can easily be shifted to another PC and the business continues to run uninterrupted. Their ability to “have control” on the outcome in case of a failure, instead of being at the mercy of their internet provider, is comforting to them. Basically, they can have their own disaster recovery plan. In these cases data backups can be automated to the cloud or to any device anyway.

DISASTER RECOVERY


Except for large businesses, not many practices think about the subject of Disaster Recovery. This is simply a plan that a transactional based business must have to mitigate a medium to long term failure to access their data for mission critical applications. Take for example an Accounting System. Generally, a failure to access it would not be a major disaster for a business. Manual invoices can be generated and then data entered retrospectively at a later date. Now consider a Medical Record or a Point Of Sale business. In both cases the application is “mission critical” and a lack of access to the application and data could only be tolerated for a short time. In the case of a cloud delivered solution it is important to ask how a Disaster Recovery would work for your business. The weak point is of course your internet provider as well as your application provider, and its hosting and database service.

So, let’s take a few scenarios that could arise (and its more common than you might think). Let’s assume that internet is unavailable. This could be due to an ISP issue that is resolved after a few hours. Even roadworks cutting a cable can be a day or two. These would be painful but not really critical; just wait and let them sort it. Now let’s assume a natural disaster (flood, earthquake) or a terrorist attack on an infrastructure. This is critical and access could be an issue for several days to weeks. Accessing using a 3G or 4G “dongle” with everyone else loading the local cellular network may not quite cut it. So, how will your provider assist with a disaster recovery plan? VETLINKSQL’s cloud hosted solution is different!

In case of a major event where internet is not available for a significant period of time, your VETLINKSQL application and data can be sent to you to install on one or several PCs on premise, and have full 100% functionality!

As one very perceptive IT consultant said in his RFP,  If I am not going to have electricity, I can get a generator; how will you keep my business running with your solution if the internet goes down? Please do not propose a solution if you can’t give me a decent disaster recovery plan to go with it  .

DATA RECOVERY & SECURITY


With Disaster Recovery now covered, lets discuss Data Recovery. As you start to store all your data, including communication and imaging over time, you do have to consider how you will get access to that data in a useable format in future if your software provider were to close down, or worse, go out of business! You may also want access to that data if you were to change software providers rather than being locked in for good. This can sometimes be difficult and an extremely expensive process, especially if your application is in a multi-tenanted environment. Some applications do provide an API (Application Program Interface) to get data out in text format but without an inter-data relationship “dictionary”, it can be a monumental task to put it all back together. When people talk about such scenarios they generally refer to simpler non mission critical CRM systems where the relationship between Client Records and other data is a lot simpler than a Medical or POS system. In addition to this, the delay in data conversion trials, and then the lengthy re-extraction from a multi-tenanted cloud environment for a “Go Live” time-frame can be testing. The author writes from real experiences in this regard.

In the majority of cases, it is important to remember that you do not have direct access to that data except though the provider’s software solution! For a multi-tenanted cloud solutions, always ask, and have it recorded in your contract, that the provider will be able to give you an assurance that an unencrypted database backup file is available on demand, should you wish it. These issues do not apply to a Cloud Hosted Solution of VETLINKSQL.

VETLINKSQL is not a multi-tenanted solution on a large shared environment. You have your own virtual server and your own database which can be backed up within minutes in its entirety and either downloaded or sent to you for full access to each and every bit of data, files, and images.