Your server is dying

March 19, 2015
One of the immutable laws of technology is this: all hardware will fail. If you put an ear to your server and listen carefully you just might hear the digital whisperings: "I'm dying."

Andy Jensen

One of the immutable laws of technology is this: all hardware will fail. If you put an ear to your server and listen carefully you just might hear the digital whisperings: "I'm dying."

Knowing your server will die is helpful. You can plan for that death. However, another immutable law states: if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and usually at the most inopportune time. I'm referring to Murphy's Law.

The unfortunate result of these two laws is your server will crash with gusto during a busy week. Scheduled patients will show up and you'll not know who they are or what they need. You'll not be able to reschedule them because you can't see your schedule. Your production numbers will tank. Morale will stink. Dogs and cats will live together.

Yes, of course you can pay to have your server monitored, your data backed up, and be assured that when that server does die, you'll only be down for a minimal amount of time. Or, if you enjoy getting your hands dirty and working a few more hours every week, you can do all the fun, technical stuff yourself.

However, this scenario reminds me of those days-now long gone-when I sat at the feet of my grandfather as he told stories of his own youthful days. He would reminisce of his 1939 Pontiac...how he had to drain the radiator each night so it wouldn't freeze. In the morning he'd put a pot on the stove to melt some snow to water, which he would use to fill the radiator before heading to work.

Nowadays, we laugh at the notion of having to deal with a frozen radiator. Technology has provided us with antifreeze (or at least a radiator heater you can plug in to prevent a freeze). Isn't it interesting how one small change freed up hours and hours of time? Think of all the things my grandfather could have done rather than waiting for the snow to melt and the water to boil.

But, I digress. I have a point and I promise to get there very soon.

Your server is in a constant state of disrepair. With every passing day it becomes older, more outdated, slower, and increasingly burdened with more data. Maybe I'm a little like your server: I'm getting a bit older, a bit slower, a bit outdated (just ask my daughters), and certainly fatter.

But that's not the case with a cloud-based application.

The key to really good cloud-based dental software is what you don't see: The infrastructure. A good company is constantly learning from their mistakes and building a more robust and reliable service. You can see how experience plays an important role. The longer a company focuses on the cloud, the better they get at it. Those companies that pioneered cloud-based dental software have a leg up over those just now getting into the game.

The service gets better every day because a team of really smart people is paying attention to it day and night. Imagine how much better you would feel if you had a team of crack IT people huddled around your server all the time. Imagine how much more efficient and faster your server would be if it had that kind of attention. Of course, that kind of service would drain your business of cash quite quickly. But if you could share the expense of a crack team with many of your colleagues, then the cost becomes a steal of a deal. And that's exactly how cloud-based systems work.

As I said, on the cloud, the service improves daily. Enhancements and changes to the system can result in better performance and improved usability. At Curve Dental, for example, we've engineered our system so that we can apply modifications on the fly, which means we can make improvements without having to pause our service. The benefit to our customers is they rarely experience downtime due to scheduled maintenance.

Your sever is dying, doctor. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. You can deal with that fact in one of three ways: (1) you can throw more IT dollars and more time at it to keep it alive for another month or year; (2) you can continue to ignore it and be thankful for the time you were given; or (3) you can modernize your practice, put your server out to pasture, and never hassle with it again.

Andy Jensen has 20 years of dental software experience. When he is not reading his grandfather's journal, he can be found advancing the cause of Curve Dental Inc., a company in the cloud that does not melt snow and boil water.

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