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The technology session at the 2011 International LCT Show at first was called “Technology Do’s and Don’t’s — Update 2011,” but it shifted to a more expansive lesson on technology potential.
Whether people attended because they wanted a 2011 update or they came to learn about cloud computing, both “techies” and the “technology-challenged” filled the room to listen to Troy Meyers, a consultant for Pure Luxury Transportation of San Francisco, and Gary Buffo, a new NLA board member and owner of Pure Luxury.
The session focused mostly on technology problems and solutions connected to the common concerns of Buffo’s 60+-vehicle operation. Those challenges mirror those of most operators, and can be addressed by the concept of “cloud computing."
What is cloud computing?
Simply put, cloud computing is the use of computer systems that are “in the clouds,” so to speak. For example, Myers cited the act of uploading a personal video to YouTube.com. The video is yours but people see it by connecting to a YouTube server “somewhere” that may as well be in the clouds. The same holds true for uploading photos on social networks such as Facebook, Myers said.
There are many “host systems” such as YouTube, Facebook and companies specializing in the chauffeured transportation industry, such as LimoAnywhere and FASTTRAK. However, there are also services such as Google that will host your data and provide other applications that can be hosted “in the clouds.”
Tim Wiegman, owner of Boulevard Limousine in Kansas City, Mo., attended this class despite being a self-proclaimed technology hound. Wiegman has helped other operators with their websites in both content management and improved web rankings. Even Wiegman said he did not know what cloud computing was when he sat down but was eager to stay up with current technology.
A common concern of all operators using a computerized reservation system is the loss of data. This loss can occur through a hard drive failure, a server crash, or even the theft of a server during a burglary. The loss of such data easily could be the death of a company if this is the only place the data is stored. Myers explained how by using cloud computers, you would never have to worry about a data crash as big companies such as Google use multiple servers and redundant back-up systems in off-site locations. Your data is not only immune to such loss but accessible from anywhere in the world at any time.
The same technology easily can be used to store written documents, photos and other data, and easily be shared between many users for a fee as low as $50 per year, Myers said. Google Applications has many types of applications that can be used and shared by multiple parties. Each time a change is made, everyone involved with a particular document is notified. Meyers likened this document-sharing concept to the technology used by Apple with iPhone, iPad and iMac where an update to one device updates all the information.
For instance, if you add a new contact to your iPhone, your iPad and desktop computer are updated at the same time. In a shared-resource environment, any user of the network can work from any place in the world. All users will have access to the latest information.
This technology also spares the environment since an in-house server no longer needs to be consuming energy or generating heat from electrical cooling fans. Cloud computing is an excellent tool for the industry.
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