Should your digital signage be in the cloud?

Should your digital signage be in the cloud?

Getting on the cloud or adopting cloud computing is for many businesses the ultimate goal — for a number of reasons, among them reducing IT costs and making internal and customer communications more efficient. Digital signage manufacturers are also getting into this technology by touting the benefits of hanging digital signage on the cloud. Cloud-based signage is gaining some momentum by borrowing from the success conventional IT/enterprise is achieving.

But the big question is: Is it right for your digital signage to jump on the cloud?

In simple language, getting on the cloud means the software supporting your digital signage doesn’t run at your premises. Instead, your software — along with hundreds of other companies’ software — runs outside and away from your place of business at a service provider’s building and on its extremely large server farms. Your service provider’s location could be blocks or miles away from your business. With your operating software being outside your premises, it is in the cloud.

When going to the cloud, promises are made of “not to worry.” Your digital signage software is in good hands. The service provider takes care of virtually everything, for example upgrading the software or patching it. Also, you’re relieved of having to download software to your media players or PC. All that and more are handled at the service provider.

But here is where caveat emptor enters. Being on the cloud may sound like you’ve reached a high level of efficiency. However, in this case, you have to carefully read between the lines, so to speak. You’ve got to take into account certain hidden issues to maintain a healthy business with your digital signage. Those include:

  • Changing Content
  • Security
  • Bandwidth
  • Connectivity
  • Cost

Changing your content on the fly is a top feature digital signage offers. Your sales depends on quickly and frequently creating in-house promotions and other customer notices. But with cloud-based signage, you’re losing this highly valuable sales asset by handing over your content and the ability to correctly create it to a dis-interested party.

Also, any content going over the cloud is subject to a security breach. Not only are you losing control over your content, but you are also jeopardizing it when it leaves your premises. Bandwidth is another valuable sales asset that must be carefully controlled and managed in-house.

When you need more bandwidth, your administrator can quickly add a new server or associated gear. But adding bandwidth while on the cloud can be questionable.

Connectivity is the fourth major issue: There are times, for any number of reasons, that a network connection is lost, and precious time is lost posting your new content.

On top of those four key issues there is the extra cost. There are subscription costs ranging anywhere up to several hundreds of dollars a month. For some large companies that may be minimal operating costs. However, for a multitude of small to medium-sized companies like retailers those extra costs can severely cut into profit margins.

Perhaps a more prudent approach is to adopt a mini-cloud local area network signage architecture that allows you to maintain tight control over these four major issues. Certainly, there’s no question that the cloud is ideally suited for large IT/enterprises. However, for digital signage where timing is of the essence, a mini-cloud LAN approach may keep your business more profitable.