I visit with accounting and financial automation end users every day. Often, the conversation turns to Intacct cloud accounting software. Remarkably, in the last three days, two different future advocates have made this exact same statement: “Well, we are pretty 'old school' around here.” Of course, that means they have concerns about keeping their books and records “in the cloud” instead of on a computer in the server room down the hall. What’s the source of these concerns? Is it concern about application security, physical security, or financial security?
Intellectually, I don’t think an application (and/or data) security objection holds up for long. Unless, of course, someone has never banked online. Even if all one ever does is access their balance through the bank’s portal, they must concede their personal checkbook is “in the cloud.” How many people would play fast and loose with the intimate details of their day to day spending? In this sense, one’s reputation is only as secure as the cloud. And, the general population seems to have come down decisively in favor of the security of the cloud.
Fault tolerance (or physical security), which is the ability to recover from an infrastructure failure, provides a much more interesting challenge to the cloud. What happens if the data center blows up or the Internet disconnects or the State of California falls into the ocean? Both data centers and their software publisher clients must have good answers to these questions. That’s why an entire industry evolved certifying responsible parties on their fitness for fault tolerance. That’s why cloud computing providers invest in redundant power, redundant connectivity, redundant hardware, redundant data centers, redundant everything. That’s why it is easier to stow away on a 767 than it is to sneak into a data center. As long as a company’s data and applications reside under the care of a certifiably fault tolerant provider, the physical security of that company’s data is as secure as humanly possible. Who can deny that the combined resources of our cloud computing providers don’t greatly exceed the old days when we relied on the least senior person in the office to take the Friday night backup tape offsite?
What about the financial stability of our cloud providers? This may be the real “old school” issue. It’s as old as agriculture, because once folks started specializing in feeding others and trade was born, credit problems followed immediately behind. When it's all said and done, we have to perform due diligence on the financial wherewithal of all our mission critical suppliers, like the landlord, the bank, and the insurance company.We have to balance credit risk against the increased costs of building our own office, paying for everything in cash, or saving enough capital to replace that office, that reputation, that life. Pretty soon, we find we’re beyond the tipping point where “old school” becomes acceptable risk.
We can further explain how much you can save by outsourcing your accounting technology infrastructure. We think you’ll agree, when the facts are on the table, that a little education is all it takes to graduate from “old school.”