Every half-decade in IT sees the rise of its own star technology.
Some, like AI in the seventies or Grid computing in late nineties, proved to be either fads or prototypes rushed to market before their time.
Others, like the Information Superhighway (today known simply as “the internet”), and the Cloud (which emerged as common IT term sometime in the mid-noughties) were destined to catch on and forever change the way we do business.
But are all business use cases fit to adopt a new popular technology? And, more specifically, is moving your online learning platform to the Cloud a good idea? This is exactly what we will be discussing in this post.
Jump to the future
For those businesses that are still relying on traditional, in person, seminar-based training, the answer to our question is quite obvious.
Yes, you should definitely make the jump to online training. It’s 2016 already, and it has proven itself time and again in the market, as well as having been adopted by all major (and most minor) enterprises and organizations.
If you are one of those businesses, the question is not whether you should invest in an eLearning platform and/or the Cloud, but rather: why did it take you so long?
The benefits, in lower training costs, flexibility, re-usability, etc. are so big that adopting eLearning is really a no-brainer. Besides, with TalentLMS’ support for blended learning you can easily combine traditional and internet learning sessions, in those few cases where there’s a legitimate need for the former (e.g. training in the physical use of tools, etc.).
To Float or Not To Float: Cloud-based LMS Advantages
With that settled, let’s move on to the more important, and less clear-cut, question: do Cloud-based online learning platforms make more sense compared to e.g. self-hosting or running some legacy desktop learning tool?
Fortunately, we are in a good position to answer this, as we have helped thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of learners make the transition to Cloud-based online learning, while at the same time we have had extended experience providing self-hosted learning solutions. In short, we’ve seen both sides of the equation, and we have horses in both races, so to speak.
And the answer we’d give is that, in most cases, and for most companies, it indeed makes much sense to take advantage of what Cloud-based elearning platforms have to offer.
To be fair, there are benefits to running your own self-hosted solution too — but those mostly concern specific use cases, and companies that want total control over their infrastructure, and have the resources to install, manage and maintain it.
For most businesses though, and we’re not talking about small and medium enterprises either (in fact some very large companies swear by our Cloud-based TalentLMS platform), going with the Cloud is a no-brainer.
Let’s see why.
1) Easy to start with
With a Cloud-based eLearning solution, there is no infrastructure to be bought and provisioned, and no installation either.
TalentLMS, for example, is just there, available and working 24/7, waiting for you to open your eLearning portal account.
And it’s really as easy as that to get started with eLearning — like registering for a Gmail or Facebook account. Enter your email and name, pick a password and you’re good to go.
Literally good to go, that is.
For the most common and basic use cases (e.g. no eCommerce, no custom integrations, etc.) you can immediately start using TalentLMS to create and serve your courses without any other configuration. And even those advanced uses are quite easy to setup, usually taking no more than a visit to the administrative pages, and a couple of clicks.
2) Easy to “maintain”
A Cloud-based online training platform, and we can’t speak for all of them, but this is definitely true for TalentLMS, is also dead easy to “maintain”.
And I’m writing this in quotes, because there’s actually nothing much to maintain — if anything at all.
The beauty of the Cloud is that the programs are maintained automatically, and you just get to use them. Not only that, but the team doing the maintenance are the world’s best experts in the software they maintain, because they are the very ones who wrote it in the first place.
Contrast this with your typical IT team of system administrators trying to install, configure or update some third party software they half-understand, using whatever documentation they can find on the internet.
Which of those situations do you believe will result in the most robust and more reliable result?
Or, to put it in another way, how many times did you have problems with your company’s IT infrastructure (intranet portal not working properly, the DB not responding, viruses spreading on the office’s PCs, printers behaving strangely, etc) and how many times has Google or Gmail or Facebook failed you?
Sure, the Cloud can have some downtime too — but much much less than what employees used to tolerate for decades on their corporate intranets (and still do).
For enterprises and organizations that don’t have complicated infrastructure needs, the Cloud, with its automated updates and backups, instant access to the latest version, and zero maintenance, gives you the best, easier to work with, and more secure LMS option.
3) Scalability on demand
That’s another good thing about the Cloud: it’s built to be scalable.
Sure, you could add another PC to your data center to beef up your self-hosted services, split the database into its own server, maybe build a small cluster — but, unless you have Google’s or GM’s scale, why bother? And why pay the price (in money AND man-months)?
A Cloud platform like TalentLMS is not only created to be scalable, but it’s also provably scalable. You see, it already serves thousands of companies and organizations besides your, all from several data-centers around the globe. And when our customers need more storage capacity or more CPU power, we’ve made sure the platform auto-scales to meet the demand.
Whether you want to add thousands of users, or split your eLearning portal into different, autonomous, Branches, to reflect your organization’s (or Extended Enterprise’s) structure, the TalentLMS Cloud will be there and ready to serve you.
4) Everybody else does it
That’s not much of an argument, of course. It reminds me of the classic, “if everybody else jumped over a cliff, would you too?”, which my mother would say.
It does, however, point to the maturity and trustworthiness of adopting Cloud solutions for your online learning needs. If something is good for IBM, GM, Google, Microsoft, Bayer, MIT, and many many more huge institutions and businesses, chances are it’s more than good enough for you.
5) Cloud is just where the servers live
Being on the Cloud doesn’t mean you’re restricted to accessing your eLearning portal from a web browser.
Of course, you can always do that, and we’ve made sure it’s an excellent experience. But the Cloud is just where our servers live — how you access them it’s up to you, and to the client you use.
Besides the browser app, for example, we have developed, and released for free, native mobile apps for accessing your TalentLMS-based eLearning (and microlearning, and Mobile Learning) content — namely TalentLMS for iOS, and (soon) TalentLMS for Android.
Plus, if you have custom needs, you can always access TalentLMS through its REST API, and hook it up to any in-house or third-party service you want to.
The Cloud gives you instant access to online training, limitless scalability, and frees you from having to deploy and manage your own application servers.
You also get updates for free, rolled out by a specialized IT team that also performs backups of your precious learning data and constant monitoring of the servers. This lets you (and your IT team, if you have one) concentrate on actually running your eLearning program and training your employees.
For most businesses, big and small, (with the exception of those that have very specialized customization needs or legacy applications that need to be hooked to one’s online learning portal), a Cloud-based solution will be the simpler, cheaper and more flexible solution to their online training needs.