When Intuit acknowledged the ability for companies to host QuickBooks desktop editions, service providers were presented with the opportunity to offer hosting for the QuickBooks desktop editions from their host servers and infrastructure. The benefits of using QuickBooks desktop products in a hosted environment are many, including the introduction of mobility, disaster recovery, remote access and other things now associated with cloud computing models. But the evolution of application delivery technologies and software as subscription service models is challenging the “traditional” approaches used to deliver hosted QuickBooks services. One of the greatest challenges facing these QuickBooks hosts is the changing landscape of Microsoft Office licensing, because QuickBooks is just no fun without Microsoft Office.
While the QuickBooks application handles a variety of essential business functions, it relies upon other software to accomplish certain important tasks, such as reporting. Most of the QuickBooks reports can be exported to Excel worksheets, allowing users to refine and manipulate the document outside of QB; QuickBooks Enterprise Edition uses Excel to handle consolidated reporting. QuickBooks uses Word for writing customer letters, and Outlook as a tool to email invoices. There is a lot of functionality in QuickBooks that relies on the MS Office products, so it is pretty typical for a QuickBooks user to also be an Office apps user. In order for the applications to work together properly, they need to be installed on the same computer. If QuickBooks is hosted “in the cloud” with a hosting provider, and Office 365 applications are installed on the local PC, the two applications don’t “talk”, and the integration isn’t seamless or even functional.
When a small business subscribes to Office 365 (or Microsoft 365 now), they are provided with rights to install their Office applications on their devices (depending on the subscription level). While this enables users to have Office apps on multiple computers they use at different times, it does not provide authorization for the application to be installed on a hosted server where it is accessed by those users.
What this means is that customers who purchase Office 365/Microsoft 365 subscriptions to get their MS Office productivity applications can’t generally use those licenses in a hosted environment.
But there is an answer for small businesses who want remote and mobile access to their QuickBooks desktop editions and who also have Office 365 application licenses. The answer is to deploy QuickBooks desktop on a Microsoft Azure cloud server. This solution allows users to run their QuickBooks software as well as their qualifying Microsoft Office (M365 Apps for Enterprise) licenses on the Azure cloud server. The cloud platform enables the anytime/anywhere access desired and keeps all the applications and data secure and available for those who need access.
There is almost never just one way to solve a problem, and the cloud is introducing new options – and challenges – at all levels. As application licensing and delivery models continue to change, solution providers will come to recognize the value they provide in bringing the right selection of services and technology models together to benefit not just their customers, but their own revenue streams and profit potential.