Cloud computing is everywhere today. It helps businesses bring down their cost significantly while optimally utilizing the available resources. We have an array of tools to help us get more productive. On the flip side we have simply too many tools in our work lives and sometimes it gets a bit difficult to manage all of them.
CloudWork says that they can rescue us from this. Do their claims hold any ground? That is exactly what we are going to find out today.
What is CloudWork
CloudWork is an Integration as a Service offering from the GetApp team. It helps us tie up most of the business and social apps that we use and access them through a single portal. They also promise to automate most of our daily chores, and save us from the boredom. I must admit, it really looks cool on paper.
Integration as a Service, Eh?
For those of us who don’t know, Integration as a Service, IaaS in short (not to be confused with Infrastructure as a Service), is a recent addition to the big list of confusing cloud abbreviations. Companies rely on a lot of apps to run their show, but they bring about an additional overhead. Developers tried to build a unified platform, but integrating enterprise grade applications is no easy feat. It would consume a lot of time and resources for a start without adding any value to your core business.
When Cloud computing came into existence a lot of discussions circled around moving this to the Cloud. The idea is to bind multiple business applications together that leverages on the RESTful API’s, governed by a unified set of rules, which runs on the cloud. IaaS allows the service provider to handle the integration related stuff, while you can keep focusing on your core business. Of course as with any cloud implementation, this will also enhance the efficiency and significantly cut down the cost since everything is done on demand. This paradigm is slowly gaining momentum, especially among small and medium businesses.
Staying in Sync
It is highly critical for any business to have their customers’ information updated, but with the large pool of tools that accompany us, it is really easy to derail on our way to heaven. CloudWork works well with most of the popular CRMs like HighRise, Zoho, Capsule and also connect with several support desks.
You can kick start with a stream from the left side panel, after you log in, and Update your CRM contact list. Once you authorize your Highrise and Gmail accounts, Cloudwork will automatically push your client data to your CRM. It will also start monitoring all your inbound and outbound mails, and add a little note to Highrise whenever you get one.
You can also authorize other apps like Zendesk, FreshBooks to organize your client interactions in one place. A note is recorded inside Highrise or any CRM of your choice, whenever a client raises a support ticket, or there is an issue with your invoice.
There are quite a few interesting streams which automates most of the repetitive tasks. For instance you can connect your Freshbooks and your Dropbox accounts to automatically sync up your invoices. There are many other combinations available which could come in handy later.
The interface looks pretty neat and users could get away with little training, but the overall User Experience was a bit of a let down for me. Let’s take their login page as an example. Once you click Sign In button on the front page, you’re redirected to a landing page which asks you whether you want to Sign in or Sign up. Only after clicking Sign In again, you’re allowed to actually get inside. Similarly when you authorize an application you’ll have to go through a maze of screens before we can sing Hallelujah. Team at CloudWork needs to address these issues as quickly as possible if they hope to take this application to the next level.
Apart from the User Experience, there are several quirks in the functionality as well. At times the application throws some random errors when you try to start a new stream. One thing that I miss the most is the apps. Eh? I thought this application was about integrating apps. Yes, absolutely but unfortunately the application does not support several of the major apps. Though it is expected from a product which is still in beta stage, the lack of diversity is disheartening.
I also find their pricing plans quite baffling. If you decide to move out of the free plan, be prepared to shell out $49 every month. There is literally nothing between these two plans. This could potentially drive away some of us who are looking to upgrade. It even gets weirder if you require more – the quote is available only on request. Whether it’s a bad thing, that is for you to decide.
And That’s A Wrap
To sum up, CloudWork is an impressive service. It helps you integrate most of your business apps in a breeze, reduces the overhead, and improves your team’s productivity. However it is still a work in progress and they have a long way to go before they reach the pinnacle. To their credit they have put forth a brave step forward in an untested terrain where several industry biggies have themselves struggled. Hopefully they will streamline these issues in the future releases and come back with a punch.
What is your take on IaaS? Do you think IaaS would be a viable model in the cloud? We’d love to hear from you. Do join us in our discussion below and thank you for reading.