QuickBooks Hosting: New Program Tier Announced for QuickBooks Hosting Providers
Intuit’s hosting program for QuickBooks desktop editions allows service providers to legitimately provide hosting services to customers using QuickBooks desktop edition products. For hosts who focus on delivering platforms or who mainly host the applications their customers have already purchased, Intuit has introduce a new tier of hosting authorization much better suited to meet their needs. For these service providers, selling new licenses of QuickBooks software – or renting licenses for QuickBooks – is not a focus, and Intuit has now taken steps to deliver a hosting authorization which addresses this reality.
Where the original top-tier authorization granted the provider with the ability to host and rent QuickBooks licenses, this new authorization reduces the cost of program entry, has far lower volume commitments, and enables hosting providers to legitimately deliver hosted QuickBooks services for customers having their own QuickBooks licenses. Without authorization from Intuit, service providers are essentially participating in unauthorized software distribution of the QuickBooks products, as the simple act of a provider installing QuickBooks software on their system and providing access to an outside customer is a violation of the QuickBooks license terms. Even in cases where the customer already has their QuickBooks licenses and simply want their hosting provider to install and manage that product, the provider and the customer are both out of compliance unless the provider is authorized by Intuit to host the product.
When Intuit introduced the Authorized Commercial Host for QuickBooks (ACHQB) program a few years ago, nobody knew how popular the offering was going to become. Certainly, a few hosting providers had worked with Intuit over a long period of time, justifying why a hosted model would be beneficial to Intuit and their customers both, but many of these providers sought Intuit approval more as a means to mitigate potential risk rather than really wanting to forge an alliance. While there is a lot of benefit to providers who are able to leverage the QuickBooks brand and product to gain visibility and customers, Intuit remains well aware of the value of their brand in the market and has a strong desire to protect the customer experience for QuickBooks users. Creating a means for hosting providers to “deliver” QuickBooks to customers was a critical step by Intuit and represented a new model for working with technology service providers, working cooperatively to increase the market’s access to QuickBooks desktop applications. Intuit is known for taking advantage of new and emerging distribution channels, and the application hosting provider community was presenting itself as a new and potentially viable channel.
The current ACHQB program requires a fairly heavy level of commitment for participation. Commercial hosts must agree to specific terms and conditions relating to technology, infrastructure, and business model in the agreement with Intuit (including elements relating to security and privacy of information). Additionally, a fairly hefty $15K entry fee and $5K annual renewal helps to ensure that only serious providers join the program. And with this new program year Intuit has introduced additional requirements in the form of volume commitments which may put the ACHQB program out of reach for some smaller providers or for those who are less committed to the QuickBooks products.
A new hosting program tier has been introduced by Intuit to address the needs of these smaller providers as well as the larger providers who focus on selling their platforms and rely on partners to sell “content” like QuickBooks. The new program tier – the Intuit Authorized Standard Host for QuickBooks (ASHQB) – has a significantly reduced cost of entry: $1000, with an annual renew of only $500 as compared to the $15,000 entry fee for the Commercial host level. Volume commitments under this program level are also significantly reduced, with this level being focused towards providers who may be involved in platform services (like selling cloud servers or VDI desktops) and who don’t participate closely with the applications they deploy for customers. The minimum volume commitment of only $750 per quarter translates to a cumulative total of only 50 QuickBooks users (at $5 per user per month), so even very small and boutique hosting providers should be able to meet this level of usage. After all, there is a LOT of QuickBooks desktop usage out there in the world, and most of it is still living on individual PCs. The QuickBooks hosting market is still largely an untapped opportunity, and Intuit has now made it much easier for service providers to participate.
The QuickBooks desktop isn’t dead, it is alive and well and living in the cloud, thanks to the Intuit hosting program and participating providers. Now there are even more options for providers – and for customers – looking to run their QuickBooks in the Cloud.