In accounting, and business in general, the debate over what is cloud and hosted or managed cloud and the core differences therein, have been bandied about for over a decade. At the end of the day, what they each are is a matter of preference for firms that use applications in these respective environments.
Clearly there are preferences to work on desktop applications, but there are known security and convenience risks for doing so. As for pure cloud applications or SaaS applications, while there are touted security and, of course, real-time updates and collaborative benefits, some don’t share those views or see the products they need to use as feature-rich as they would like.
There’s much more to dive into when considering working in these respective environments. As such, to dispel or shed some light on some of the myths and share some realities, I spoke with representatives from Ace Cloud Hosting, which has been in the business of offering accounting firms to work as they wish in the most secure, and convenient environment possible.
Both Anuj Parihar, assistant manager and cloud consultant, and Mohit Jain, lead technical consultant at Ace Cloud, answered pointed questions about some of the core differences comparing working with cloud applications versus managed cloud. While we did not go into every detail about the comparisons, we did touch on some of the most pointed questions that people have about the two platforms.
Q: What are some top-of-mind viewpoints that you hear about QBO vs QB Desktop?
Mohit: Since we’re mostly in the QuickBooks-verse, I can say that when it comes to QuickBooks Online, the immediate misconceptions are that because of mixed messaging out in the market, businesses are being lead to believe this transition is necessary. Another is that QBO is very easy to use. Finally, that it is cost effective.
QBO for a single file and given an Enterprise license the cost is similar. But if you have more than one file the cost goes up exponentially. As you add more clients you have to wonder if it is truly cost effective.
People often face limitations when trying to use third-party apps with QuickBooks Online, as its integration scope is narrower compared to QuickBooks Desktop. This is a key area where QuickBooks Desktop outshines its online counterpart.
Anuj: Also it is made to believe that QBO is as powerful as desktop. This is not always the case. Working closely with companies across various industries, particularly with accountants, we consistently hear that QuickBooks Online lacks certain key features and functionalities. This shortfall is a primary factor prompting users to revert to QuickBooks Desktop or not move over to QBO.
We also hear from them that it’s an easy transition from desktop to online. We have worked with clients who want to go back to the desktop and this transition takes a lot of time. Sometimes tables have to be redesigned and other work involved. It all boils down to the fact that people who go to a hosted environment don’t want to change their way of working.
Additionally, the conversion process often entails a risk of data loss, leading to numerous hours spent with Intuit support for resolution. In some instances, this data may not be successfully restored.
It is true that using online applications, you can do real-time collaboration. The point is, do you want to be using all of your features the same way you are used to and do it in the cloud?
Q: It seems security has been one of the main drivers to move to the cloud versus staying on the desktop. What are the differences in pure cloud (like QBO) versus hosting the desktop version?
Anuj: What we are able to provide in the managed cloud, because we are responsible for hosting thousands of businesses and accounting firms, we have to be at the top of our game all the time. We use the latest security tools, AI-based tools too, to proactively keep threats at bay, even possible threats outside the network. A managed provider like us has a group of security analysts whose sole responsibility is to monitor what’s going into and out of the network.
Mohit: One important point to make in the cloud versus hosted debate is that QBO does back up the data, but without redundancy. We follow the latest trends on onsite and offsite backup.
For backups, QBO goes to a third-party and you are only backing up files, not the entire environment. We do an all-inclusive backup, and not just for QuickBooks files, which includes – spreadsheets, pdf, and any other sort of data. The backups are also not customizable. With a hosted environment, you can customize your backups, hourly, daily, three-months and so on. QBO doesn’t have that. You can’t go back to files from a few days ago and find that file like you can in a managed service environment.
Anuj: Also, let’s say a business needs to be compliant, in a hosted environment, you can choose the kind of security you want. You can set the protocols. That’s not quite there in QBO because it is a universal product.
There are, of course, a variety of reasons why firms and businesses use cloud applications versus staying with desktop applications in a managed cloud environment. As it was mentioned, a lot does have to do with how you prefer to work. In the end, it helps to know the facts and compare what matters most to you and your clients. Having a conversation with your cloud vendor as well as a managed service provider and asking the pointed questions that need answering is always the best approach.