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True Cloud vs. Cloud-Washed Solutions and How to Tell the Difference

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Find out why over 1,500 Canadian dentists trust ClearDent to keep their practices running smoothly.

Find out why over 1,500 Canadian dentists trust ClearDent to keep their practices running smoothly.

As the world of dentistry continues to evolve with technological advancements, there’s one innovation that’s transforming how practices operate: cloud-based practice management software. This cutting-edge tool is not just a trend; it’s a game-changer in streamlining operations, enhancing patient care, and ensuring the utmost efficiency in your practice. 

In modern times, where efficiency and accessibility are paramount, cloud-based solutions are more than just a convenience—they are a necessity. From solo practitioners to large dental groups, the shift towards cloud computing is providing unparalleled benefits, reshaping the landscape of dental practice management. 

But buyers beware! Not all Cloud solutions are built the same and it’s important to be able to tell the difference. The distinction between true cloud and cloud-washed solutions is important when wanting to harness the full potential of cloud computing not just today, but well into the future. This differentiation goes beyond mere terminology; it’s about understanding the core architectural and operational differences that can significantly impact a practice’s efficiency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. True cloud solutions are designed specifically for cloud environments, offering inherent scalability, elasticity, and robust security. In contrast, ‘cloud-washed’ solutions (aka. legacy software rehosting) are often repurposed traditional applications with limited cloud capabilities. As businesses increasingly rely on cloud technologies for their critical operations, knowing this difference is not just beneficial—it’s essential for making informed decisions that align with long-term business strategies and goals. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the nuanced contrasts between true cloud and cloud-washed solutions and why recognizing these differences is pivotal for any organization looking to leverage cloud technology effectively. 

How to Spot a Cloud-Washed Solution 

The difference between “true cloud” and “cloud washed” solutions primarily revolves around how these solutions are designed, deployed, and utilized in a cloud computing environment. Here’s a detailed comparison: 

Architecture and Design

True Cloud Solutions: These are designed specifically for cloud environments. They leverage cloud-native architectures, ensuring they are inherently scalable, elastic, and efficient in resource utilization. True cloud solutions often follow a multi-tenant model where multiple customers share resources but with isolated data and environments. 

Cloud-Washed Solutions: Also known as rehosted legacy software, these are often traditional, on-premises applications that have been minimally adapted to be hosted over the internet. They lack the fundamental architectural benefits of true cloud solutions, like elasticity and multi-tenancy. 

In simpler terms: Imagine you have a basic appointment book at your dental office where you manually write down appointments. If someone just takes this book and scans it so you can view it online, it might seem modern because it’s accessible over the internet. However, it doesn’t improve how you schedule appointments – you can’t automatically update times, send reminders to patients, or let patients book online. This is similar to cloud-washed solutions where your old system is made available online but without any real improvement in functionality or convenience. 

Scalability and Elasticity

True Cloud Solutions: They offer seamless scalability, allowing users to easily adjust resources (such as storage and computing power) as per demand, often automatically. 

Cloud-Washed Solutions: Scalability is limited and often manual. They don’t inherently adjust to varying workloads, leading to either underutilization or resource shortages. 

In simpler terms: Imagine your dental clinic has an old phone system to handle appointments. This system can only handle a few calls at a time. When it’s a busy day, and many patients are calling to book appointments, some get a busy signal because the system can’t handle more calls. On a slow day, most of the lines are unused. Cloud-washed solutions are like this phone system. They don’t automatically adjust to the busy or slow days at your clinic. You end up with a system that’s either overwhelmed during peak times or barely used when it’s less busy. 

Integration and Accessibility

True Cloud Solutions: They generally offer robust APIs for integration with other cloud services and are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Cloud-Washed Solutions: Have limited integration capabilities and are less accessible, requiring specific configurations or VPNs for access. 

In simpler terms: Think of cloud-washed solutions as having a special filing cabinet in your dental office that requires a unique, complicated key to open. This key isn’t like the normal keys you use every day; it needs special settings or a special device (like a VPN) to work. So, if you’re away from the office and need to check patient records or order supplies, it’s not easy. You can’t just use your home computer or smartphone to access it. These systems don’t easily connect with the other software you’re using, making it difficult and inconvenient to access important information when you’re not at the clinic. 

Performance and Reliability

True Cloud Solutions: Designed for high availability and reliability, they often include features like load balancing and redundancy. 

Cloud-Washed Solutions: Cloud-washed solutions lack high availability, redundancy and load balancing because it is difficult, if not impossible, to make that possible. 

In simpler terms: Imagine cloud-washed solutions as a single dental chair in your clinic used for all your patients. If that chair breaks down or is already in use, there’s no backup. You can’t see more than one patient at a time, and if something goes wrong with the chair, all your appointments have to be canceled or postponed. These solutions don’t have extras or backups (high availability and redundancy) and can’t handle too many patients at once (load balancing). So, when they get too busy or have a problem, everything stops, just as if your only dental chair breaks. 


True Cloud Solutions: These are typically designed with security as a core component. They often employ advanced security measures like encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular security audits. Being built specifically for the cloud, they are more likely to be up to date with the latest security protocols and compliance standards.  

Cloud-Washed Solutions: Security in hosted solutions can vary significantly depending on the provider and how the solution is architected. While providers may implement robust security measures, these solutions may not inherently have the same level of security integration as true cloud solutions, particularly if they are traditional applications adapted for cloud hosting. 

In simpler terms: Think of cloud-washed solutions like renting different types of storage units for your dental clinic’s important documents. The level of security depends a lot on which storage company you choose and how they’ve built their units. Some might have advanced security systems, while others just have a basic lock. Even if a company adds strong locks to an old unit, it might not be as secure as the units that were designed from the start with modern security features. This is like cloud-washed solutions where the safety of your clinic’s digital information (like patient records) can vary a lot. Some are secure, but others might not be, especially if they’re just older systems that have been moved online, not built for it from the beginning. 


True Cloud Solutions: These solutions are often designed from the ground up to comply with a wide range of industry standards and regulations, such as GDPR, PIPEDA, SOC 2, and others. They typically have built-in features and controls to ensure data privacy, security, and regulatory compliance, making it easier for businesses to meet their compliance obligations. 

Cloud-Washed Solutions: Compliance can be more challenging with cloud-washed solutions, especially if they are adaptations of traditional software not originally built for the cloud. While they can be configured to meet certain standards, achieving and maintaining compliance will likely require additional effort and resources. 

In simpler terms: Imagine cloud-washed solutions as using a pre-made building for your dental clinic instead of one specifically designed for dental services. This building wasn’t originally made for dental work, so making it fit your needs, like having the right kind of sterilization rooms or private spaces for patients, can be hard. You can try to adjust and add things to make it work, but it takes extra effort and sometimes more money. Just like that, hosted solutions, especially those not originally built for the cloud, can be tricky when it comes to following all the rules and standards (compliance) that apply to dental practices. You might find yourself having to do more to ensure everything is up to the standards required for patient data and privacy. 


In summary, true cloud solutions are specifically built for, and fully leverage the cloud environment, offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Cloud-washed solutions, also known as “hosted server solutions”, have limitations that can quickly plateau your growth. They have no upgrades that would enhance your business but are the same legacy practice management software, virtualized on a virtual machine. It is highly likely that you would need to make significant investments down the road when you add more locations, patients, or grow the team. 

Overall, true cloud infrastructure better supports your organization as you prepare to scale. With ClearDent Cloud, we redesigned our software and its intuitive features that have been trusted by 1500+ practices for over 20 years and rebuilt it from the ground up to be true cloud software with features designed to help organizations scale. 

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