Cloud computing – the ‘in thing’
There’s no doubt that cloud computing has become the ‘in thing’. But should we rush in to having all of our data stored in an online environment? The team at Business Fitness have always taken a considered approach to all the latest ‘buzz’ technologies, with our main objective being to determine whether or not they are ‘fit for purpose’ for our clients. We have seen many ‘industry changing’ ideas come and go in the last 13 years.
Cloud computing in one form or another is definitely here to stay and, with the increased reliability of Internet services throughout Australia, will only continue to grow. However, our client-led research suggests that many firms do not see it as the ‘must do’ right now, given the many questions still to be answered.
Cloud computing has actually been available for many years, although we have seen a proliferation of vendors in the last couple of years. Many of these vendors, along with some industry commentators, regularly exclaim – with apparent disregard for what many accounting practices really want – that software vendors who are not already ‘in the cloud’ at present are behind the wave. However, based on the extensive feedback gathered from our own accounting clients, we understand that the vast majority of accounting practices are not ready to put all their eggs in one ‘cloud’ basket just yet. Whilst many are dipping their toes in the water by utilizing some cloud based services, they are waiting to review the results before moving further forward into the cloud.
What should always be front of mind (for software vendors and accounting practices alike) is: will product x allow the same (or better) ease of use that users currently enjoy, reliability of service and sufficient space to store many hundreds of gigabytes of data – and all at a price that is profitable for the vendor and the accountant?
Accountants must therefore be wary when assessing the potential application of any cloud-based product to their practice. It is highly unlikely that products based on stringing together a myriad of products from different software vendors will meet their requirements – particularly in terms of ease of use and reliability of service, if not price. Experience shows that such marriages between vendors are most definitely not made in heaven and are prone to break down over time.
Predicting a rise in the use of cloud computing
Frost & Sullivan predict that spending on cloud will increase, but in a measured manner. They predict that customers will continue to be cautious about any up-front cost savings derived from cloud computing due to concerns over hidden costs and ‘down time’.
Arun Chandrasekaran, Research Director at Frost & Sullivan, says, ‘There has been a significant increase in the use of cloud services in Australia in the past 12 months and all the indications are that this will continue. While a formal “cloud first” policy does not exist yet in most enterprises, the idea of a “cloud alternative” evaluation is increasingly common. We expect to see a number of trial deployments this year as companies dip their toes in the water and test non-mission critical applications and infrastructure’.
At Business Fitness, we see that many of the issues being raised now about the risks associated with cloud computing will be addressed over the next few years, including international treaties surrounding data sovereignty between countries. But for now, a particularly cautious approach is recommended so that you do not risk your data and your clients’ private information.