By Enrico Caballero
10-October-2019 on Tips11 minute read
When it comes to choosing a sports analysis software which should you choose, a Cloud-based product or one stored locally on your own computer?
In this post, we’ll look at the differences between the two models and which system is best suited to your requirements.
Choosing a Sports analysis program for your club or team can be a tough decision. How you’ll be using the tool - who with, how often and the level you compete at - are all factors you’ll probably consider as part of the process.
With so much choice available, another decision coaches and performance analysts face is usability and comfort. If you struggle to understand how a tool works, or the learning curve feels too steep, chances are it’s not the right tool for you.
One important factor easily overlooked in the selection process - is whether the software will sit on your own computer or up in the Cloud.
Look around and you’ll find plenty of articles supporting both options. But in this post, we’re going to leave the marketing to others and simply highlight what’s good - and what’s not so good - about each.
The first thing to say is that the Cloud is here to stay. It currently swallows up around 75% of research investment, despite storing less than 20% of all the data created. That’s a clear indication that software makers see a strong future in the Cloud.
Demand for Cloud-based apps, programs and utilities looks set to continue, driven by demand for smaller, more compact devices, coupled with manufacturers’ need to keep costs down, increase functionality or simply make maintenance and distribution easier.
Cost has played a big part in the shift online, along with faster, more reliable connectivity, improved security and the transformation of mobile phones into the powerful mini-computers most of us now carry.
Limited by size and space, the easiest way of running complex programs on smaller devices - like phones and tablets - is by supplying them as apps. Effectively these are just portals, providing access to the functionality of a software, while the code is stored online.
From social media to the programs we use to create documents or watch TV, Cloud-based technologies now dominate the online space.
Scalability, ease of shipping, 24/7 availability and download-free updates are a few of the advantages the Cloud offers - for customers and developers alike. Another benefit is the ease of sharing files and information using Cloud-based programs.
Most sports software for video analysis contains different levels of access and password protection. The Sharimg platform, for example, is a cloud-based video-sharing tool, which allows analysts to define what type of access a user has.
So, while fellow coaches or analysts may be allowed to edit presentations or upload new reports, players may only have access to watch videos and leave comments.
The core strength of a Cloud-based platform like Sharimg is time: With information stored online, collaboration becomes easier. There’s no need to post endless messages back and forth or send large files - and when it’s time to share work with players they simply need to follow a link.
Despite big advances and fast-improving infrastructure, these are still early days for Cloud technology and the technology remains dogged by 2 persistently worrying issues that don’t look like going away anytime soon.
The first is connectivity. Without an internet signal using Cloud-based software can be restricted, access and functionality may be reduced and you’ll be unable to save or change your information. Likewise, unless your connection is strong, moving or saving large amounts of data may be slow and partial to interruption.
For software manufacturers, the biggest risk is service continuity. They rely on huge service centres to deliver the infrastructure necessary to store their data. The biggest of these is Amazon and even it ‘goes down’ from time to time.
Bottom line. Outages don’t happen often, but when they do, the disruption can be catastrophic for users.
If you work in a sporting environment - with rigid start and finish times for matches or competition - and your analytical software provider can’t guarantee continuous access, you could be left stranded and unable to do your job.
As an end-user, you’ll endure similar problems if your location doesn’t have internet access - a common issue faced by clubs and teams on the road. Unless your software is stored on the machines you have to hand, don’t expect to be able to use any Cloud-based tools without a connection to the web.
Just because your home ground or training facility has lightning-fast wi-fi, don't expect every team you face throughout a season to be so well-equipped.
The second issue dogging Cloud-based software is security - and again it’s a threat showing no sign of disappearing anytime soon.
In a world where banks, social media giants and even government departments cannot guarantee the security of our data, is it reasonable to believe commercial entities can do any better?
Unfortunately, storing information on the Cloud exposes it to the risk of someone using, stealing or deleting data that could be irreplaceable. And if you compete at a high level, where opponents might benefit from such data, the risk could be even greater.
Until the arrival of Cloud computing, software had traditionally been downloaded and installed on the machines using it. All the files, data and code needed to run a program sat inside your computer, available to be booted up as and when you please.
Once active, a program running on your own computer should function exactly as it was intended to, unrestricted by outside factors, such as the speed of your connection or any problems being experienced by its makers.
In other words, the program will run ‘locally’ - it does not need an internet connection to function - while the data produced by desktop applications is also stored ‘locally’, wherever you want to save it.
Obviously, the advantage of having data - that’s crucial to your work - on your own computer, tablet or hard drive means you’ll have constant access to it, with or without an internet connection. The same goes for the program itself.
So if constant, unrestricted access to your information and analytical software are crucial to your work, having both stored locally makes complete sense. You won’t be dependent on an internet connection to boot up the program and your data will be within easy reach at all times.
But what happens if your computer breaks down, gets lost or is stolen? Anything stored on the device will be lost forever - unlike Cloud-based content, where you could simply log in from a different computer and carry on working as normal.
Of course, by simply making backup copies of your data and keeping a record of your login information, you can minimize the risk of losing your content, but it does require a degree of organisation on the part of users.
You’ll also have to manually update programs if you want to keep using the latest version of a software.
While the supporters of each system would claim a clear advantage, this is really down to a matter of personal taste and your requirements as an analyst.
If you’re based in a single location with a good wifi connection that you can rely on, the Cloud is a perfectly good place to keep your work and the tools you need to do it. However, if you’re in a position where you can’t always guarantee there’ll be fast internet when you need to use your software, locally stored programs will be better suited to your needs.
Perhaps the ideal solution is a ‘best of both worlds’ approach; A locally stored software on your laptop to work as and when required, without needing a connection, coupled with an online element, providing an environment to collaborate with fellow analysts and share work with players.
Who knows how the technology of sports analysis software will change in the future? Chances are that internet coverage will increase even further and become more reliable, although universal high-speed access is still some way off.
The most important thing is to always be able to do your work and share the knowledge you generate.
And to do that as and when you please, it’s probably best to take a flexible attitude - dipping in and out of both solutions.
That’s the approach we take at Nacsport. We try our best to deliver tools for both environments. We understand that any disruption to your work could make the difference between winning and losing, which is why we offer standalone software for your computer - like our flagship video analysis software - combined with cloud-based services such as Sharimg - which allow you to collaborate with colleagues and share your analysis on the web.
If you’d like more help on choosing a sports analysis software, or want to know more about the products we make, drop us a line. As always, your message will be read and answered by a human being who understands the challenges you face and is committed to providing you with the best possible service.