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Cloud - a way of working...

We are delighted that Julian English, Editorial Director at FMC is our Guest Editor today, he writes..

The ‘cloud’ was once a term reserved only for IT tekkies. But now everyone uses it.Julian English

The cloud is not a single place, but more a way of working. And one can use the cloud for storage, applications, business servers and the options grow almost daily.

Businesses of all sizes are implementing cloud technology to reduce costs, overhead, and physical space dedicated to computing. But the big issue in dentistry has been protection of data. And in the wake of GDPR, we are all taking this issue very seriously indeed.

 So what exactly is the cloud?

Cloud has been misunderstood. But it is growing. Because internet connections have become faster and faster and the internet is used so ubiquitously, the cloud has developed as a reliable method in which to operate. Back in the day the internet was slow and expensive, so it was only used for essential tasks – visiting websites, searching and sending emails. For example at home my first modem (remember them) was a separate device running at 28.8 kbs (forget the kbs bit, just remember the 28.8 number). It had to be fired up and made odd noises when connecting to the internet. Now the provider of my TV channels delivers 200,000 kps internet speed at home.

As a result of this, one can run applications like MS Word directly over the internet (aka the cloud) without having to install it on your local computer. Voila the cloud.

If you can run MS Word over the internet you can run almost any software.

Businesses serving dentistry in the 21st century should be offering their products through the cloud. It is the route forward. The days of receiving disks in the post to install are a distant past. The days of downloading applications to install on your computer…are numbered.

Instead, cloud solutions allow forwarding-thinking businesses to remain constantly up-to-date with the latest software updates, and to run extraordinarily powerful programs.

 Positives for cloud computing

  • No server rooms
  • Immediate updates to software
  • Speed and efficiency
  • Easier file-sharing
  • Never run out of memory
  • No more sets of CD-ROMs and installing that software on every machine

Back to security

PC security is less of a concern when you do everything through the internet.

For dental practices using the cloud, the better software providers, triangulate operations as simple as saving a file through three or more computers to remove the possibility of files being damaged or corrupted.

Triangulation also means that files and date is automatically encrypted…because only a third of it is ever on one cloud-based computer.

 What do I use at Dentistry magazine?

I do not profess to be an expert on cloud computing, but I use it. My home files are stored on Apple iCloud, and iDrive and Googledrive. Mrs English is an enthusiastic selfie-taker and wants kept safe the 38,000 pictures and growing. Hard drives fail, so the cloud is the essential backup that stops her asking me about our picture file security on a daily basis.

At FMC and Dentistry magazine we use cloud versions of the Adobe products, photoshop and Acrobat among others. It has proven faster and more reliable, and cheaper. For storage we have two needs, regular working space. This needs 1 GB of fast access files. A backed-up to the cloud NAS (network accessible drive) is best for this. We back that up to the cloud encrypted and to a smaller NAS at home using the cloud. For our archive (3TB we back this up to iDrive weekly).

For dental practices

Back up of patient data to the cloud needs encryption to ensure patient safety. A few years ago that used to be a big issue, but almost every cloud company offers encryption now. Cloud should work quietly in the background around existing software.


  • Cloud computing is faster.
  • Cloud computing is inherently safer.
  • Cloud computing is cheaper.
  • Cloud computing is easier to teach.
  • Cloud computing is easier to support.
  • Cloud computing saves space.
  • Cloud computing is more accessible.
  • Cloud computing is the future because of the above reasons.
  • Plus, it allows employees and users to work remotely and is great for the planet.

Written exclusively for Dentally by Guest Editor:  Julian English, Editorial director at FMC, who has  more than 23 years’ experience working on award-winning Dentistry magazine and numerous other dental journals, Julian is a well-known face in dental publishing. 

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