Knowing Your Options: Hosting QuickBooks for Shared and Remote Access

Intuit’s QuickBooks financial applications, the desktop editions in particular, are the most popular small business accounting solutions on the market.  The QuickBooks Online Edition, Intuit’s cloud-based contender, is not quite as accepted among accountants and advisors for a variety of reasons.  Being in the cloud isn’t necessarily one of those reasons, if you consider the growing demand for access to multi-user cloud-hosted QuickBooks desktop editions.  Mostly it comes down to functionality and how the application operates.  QBO just isn’t like good old desktop QuickBooks and isn’t the preferred solution for many financial professionals or their clients.  Yet these users still want and need remote access and mobility.  This is where hosting comes in.

QuickBooks hosting and creating the ability to access QuickBooks applications and data remotely is something that a lot of businesses can benefit from.  Whether it’s to outsource the management and maintenance of servers and systems to a 3rd party, or to create the ability for remote workers or contractors to collaborate with real-time applications and data, there may be a need for a hosted application approach.  Business owners and IT managers need to give consideration to the level of service and support they and their users will need before selecting their provider.  Knowing what the provider will handle and what the subscribers are responsible for might make all the difference in determining the right approach.

In-House DIY Hosting

Local networks and PCs allow users in the same location to share resources, like printers and data storage locations.  Typically, desktop computers have application software installed on them, and use the network to access shared data.  When users work outside of the network, getting access to applications and data might not be so easy.  Even extending the network via VPN access doesn’t solve the problem when the desktop applications are not designed to access data over remote connections (desktop applications like QuickBooks).  It used to be that the only reasonable way to allow remote users to access and run QuickBooks as if they were inside the LAN was to set up remote desktop or application servers (terminal servers).  MyQuickCloud is a product that addresses this need very gracefully, providing in-house personnel with the tools necessary to establish a secure cloud for QuickBooks access directly from existing on-premises systems.

Co-location and Outsourced Infrastructure (IaaS)

Instead of setting up remote access solutions in the office, many IT departments find that co-location with a 3rd party addresses a number of issues.  Leasing equipment, operating system and virtualization tools may be more cost-efficient than purchasing them directly, and the security and redundancy in most hosting facilities far exceeds what most businesses are able to afford to implement by themselves.  Co-location provides managed service for infrastructure elements, but doesn’t necessarily address business needs in terms of user security or application and data management.  These elements are traditionally left up to the subscriber; installing and configuring software applications, establishing user and application permissions, and managing updates and software upgrades.  For this reason, co-location may be a good option for a business with internal IT staff, but not necessarily for businesses seeking “full service” application hosting.

Application Service Providers (ASP) and Managed Application Hosting

Application hosting service providers handle software installation and management, user and security administration, and ongoing technical support as part of the subscription service.  Customers need only to provide their software licenses, name users and upload data in order to use the service.  The service provider does the software installation and configuration, sets up the users and establishes permissions, and connects users and applications to managed data storage.  This model allows businesses to enjoy many of the benefits of a cloud-based or SaaS solution model while also allowing them to continue to use software solutions they are already invested in, in terms of both software licensing and process development.  On the other hand, these models can be extremely restrictive in terms of the applications or integrations they will support, and can be quite costly as the number of users or applications hosted increase.

Whether you roll your own (DIY hosting) or work with a full service QuickBooks host, accessing business applications and data from anywhere is an option every business can take advantage of.

Make sense?


Read about the race to find the secret sauce of hosted application services for small businesses

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