Cloud Computing for Accountants
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Cloud computing is one of those things people are starting to hear about. Tech leaders are starting to make a part of their everyday vocabulary. But, for many of us, it is kind of tough to get a good handle on what it is. Should I care? Short answer – maybe not yet, but probably soon.
Cloud computing is a term for computer systems that use the internet as an integral part of the system. You probably know where your programs live now…on a server down the hall or in the basement where those weird techie guys hang out. But do you care where the programs are? As long as the system works when you log in, does it matter that you can go down the hall and touch a box that has your programs and data on it?
There are actually a lot of liabilities related to this standard model of having systems for your company. What happens if the building burns down? No problem, you have backups, right? I’ll bet a lot of your backups are in boxes sitting on top of the server they backup. Or another common problem…the backups don’t work. Backups have to be tested because sometimes things change (without you or the techs knowing about it) that cause the backup software or hardware to fail. Or, a new critical system never got added to the backup process and never has been backed up. The issues go on and they are not all technical glitches.
Then there are the associated costs with in house systems. Those tech guys cost money. The machines cost money. The room they occupy costs money. The air conditioning they use costs money. You start to see the bigger picture.
Cloud computing systems are just there. You have a login ID and a password and the system is somewhere. You really don’t care where. These systems are built on top of state of the art hardware and backup systems with techs more expensive than you can afford, and because they are supporting lots of clients with the same systems/hardware/personnel, it is almost always cheaper than having your own system down the hall. Another thing. How often do you need to upgrade your software? How expensive is it to do that? With most SaaS systems, upgrades are a normal, routine thing that you don’t have to worry about. You come to work on Monday and the system was upgraded. New features just show up. It doesn’t take long to get used to the idea. Once you do, it seems like that’s the way it always should have been.
Security is an area most conservative accounts are concerned about. It is good to be concerned about it, too. But the vendors know that us accountants aren’t going to buy something that can’t be relied on and they understand what their exposure is if they fail in their fiduciary responsibility. So, they spent a lot of time making their systems pass all the tests that the security nerds are looking at and it ends up these systems are generally more secure than your system down the hall. Everyone considering a Cloud solution needs to be concerned and do their due diligence, but these systems have been tested and contracts reviewed and as far as I can tell from what I have read, security is not a barrier to adopting a Cloud solution.
Cloud Computing is an interesting concept that is gaining momentum because it makes so much sense. Software as a Service (SaaS) was expected to grow an estimated 17% in 2013 to almost $17 billion. CS3 Technology has clients using Internet base accounting systems and nearly every new prospect is considering the option. If you would like to learn more, Google “Cloud Based Accounting Systems” or give us a call.