Yes, it's hard to tell if there is a difference - what do people really mean when they say they want their Practice Management software in the cloud? For some, being "in the cloud" simply means that, through whatever means, if they access their data (wherever it may be stored) through the Internet, then they are "in the cloud." For others, being "in the cloud" means that their programs and data reside on a server somewhere outside their offices, and they access them through the Internet--by using a browser - not some program (Logmein (to a desktop in their office), iTap (from an iPad), or just Remote Desktop to a Terminal Server.)
Finally, there are those who think that "in the cloud" means that your practice management software runs in a browser, not by getting to it through the Internet.
When evaluating whether or not your firm should be in the cloud, first think through all of the reasons you think you need to be "in the cloud"
For example, do you:
- Need to access your programs/data from anywhere (using a browser-based approach)?
- Want to avoid the responsibility of maintaining/upgrading servers within your office? (Remember that you will still have to have a server for your LAN, but not one that requires as much power and sophistication.)
- Want to take advantage of some of the newer features (i.e., remote client access, sophisticated workflows, etc...) that newer, cloud-based programs offer?