The Yacht Technology Blog

Cloud vs. Desktop Computing for Vessels: What's Best for You?

Posted by Andy Levy on Apr 16, 2013 2:01:00 PM


cloud_computingCloud based computing” and “web based computing” have become sexy terms in today'’s computing world. Some yacht management software developers are even producing products offering cloud computing for vessels.


Other companies have maintained a more traditional vessel based computer platform for their software. So what are the benefits of each software platform and which should you choose for your yacht management software program?


Image by: akakumo



What is cloud based computing?

The cloud refers to computing that relies on remote (shore side) resources.  Web-based programs access programs and data on remote servers through an Internet browser.  


According to the website Webopedia, “the word cloud (also phrased as 'the cloud') is used as a metaphor for the Internet. So the phrase "cloud computing" means a type of Internet-based computing where different services--such as servers, storage and applications--are delivered to an organization's computers and devices through the Internet."


Cloud based programs are sometimes referred to Software as a Service (SaaS) because it is a service that is paid for on a monthly basis, versus a package that is purchased and owned by the user.



What is desktop or vessel-based computing?

cwecrSometimes referred to as "desktop computing," vessel-based computing uses software, components and data that is physically located on the vessel. The computers can be desktops, laptops, tablets or any other computing device.


Crew updates data in the program daily and has immediate access to all documents saved in the system.


Like a cloud based program, data can regularly synchronize with shore side computers via the Internet. However, the actual data lives on the vessel with the captain and crew. 



Pros and cons of cloud and vessel-based computing for yachts.


 Cloud Based SaaS Pros

 Cloud Based SaaS Cons

Potentially lower startup costs, as the software is typically paid for on a monthly basis rather than purchased up front.

Higher total lifetime cost because the software is never owned and must be paid for perpetually on a monthly basis.

Software that runs in the browser, eliminating the need to install software on each individual workstation.

Software that runs in the browser is less sophisticated, lacking the programming depth and detail of traditional computer programs that live on the computer.

Accessibility to everything stored in the cloud from anywhere one has access to an Internet connection.

Complete dependence on a fast and reliable Internet connection.

Software updates only need to occur on the central server. They are then immediately available to all users. 

You may no longer have access to your data if you end your relationship with your yacht management software provider.

Data is updated continually, as long as there is an active Internet connection.

Data is not always secure and private. Highly sensitive information resides on the servers of third party cloud service providers. 

 Vessel Based Desktop Pros

 Vessel Based Desktop Cons 

Provides a richer and faster user Interface, including more sophisticated graphics, drag and drop functionality, and integration with other desktop applications such as Outlook, Word, and Excel. Data will not be available to users off the vessel without making arrangements for shore side data synchronization. 
All yacht management data lives on the boat, giving the crew immediate access to it at all times. Access to data is not dependent on Internet connectivity.  Depending on shore side data synchronization frequency and Internet connection availability, data may temporarily be out of date for shore side users.
Attached documents are immediately available for government or yacht agency inspections and for emergencies. Software must be installed for each workstation running the yacht management program.
All data is held by the vessel and is owned by the vessel. Software updates must be applied individually to each workstation running the desktop software. This disadvantage can largely be eliminated through automated Internet updates.

Data is pushed to the cloud to synchronize with a shore side server only when conditions are optimal, preserving Internet bandwidth for owners, guests and crew.

Typically higher startup costs to purchase the software.


How to choose.

To choose between a cloud based yacht management software program and one that is located on the vessel, you've got to do your homework.

Read online articles, such as this one by Forbes' Joe McKendrick: 9 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Cloud Computing Contract.

Also, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my Internet connection extremely fast and completely reliable?

  2. Am I confident that I can gain access to all data whenever I need it?

  3. Will I have immediate access to all MLC (Maritime Labour Convention) 2006 documents if an inspector comes on board?

  4. Do I know who ultimately owns my data--the vessel or the yacht management software company--and can I easily retrieve my data if I sever ties with the yacht management company?

I hope this article helps you understand the difference between cloud and desktop computing for vessels.

For a free, no obligation consultation with a Great Circle Systems representative about Triton Administrator vessel based yacht management software, please click the red button below.

A member of our team will contact you to discuss your on board computing needs.


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Topics: vessel internet, yacht management software, bandwidth management

JD_Crawford_head_shotDarren and the GCS team have been instrumental in the development and deployment of several carrier grade IT networks for large scale, Savant-based super-yacht projects where the technology infrastructure needed to be extremely reliable. 


The capabilities of the GCS team have proven instrumental in helping us deliver a world class technology experience to some of the most prestigious yachts in the world.


J.D. Crawford of Savant Systems


I have been working with Great Circle Systems since 2006 when they did the installation of all our networking and Internet communications equipment on our boat being built in Germany.


The equipment they recommended and installed was exactly as we required.  We have had extremely good results with all of their equipment and it has performed as they had advised.


I would highly recommend them to all fellow captains.


Captain Keith T. Moore of M/Y Lady Sheridan

CE_W_Michael_Hummel_of_MY_TVTriton Administrator has proven to be the perfect tool for us on M/Y TV, which is a 78 meter Luerssen yacht.


Triton has comprehensive essential features plus any additional features one can possibly need. It is still easy to use and has a swift support team to implement customer-specific wishes, such as individual day logs, etc.


W. Michael Hummel, Chief Engineer of M/Y TV


Captain Bruno Herregods talks about Great Circle Systems tech support. 

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