Beware the Cloud

On February 26, 2008, in news, by

Recent announcements about the whole so-called cloud revolution where supposedly we’re going to move out entire data structure lock stock and barrel to the cloud has me wondering if some folks are a little too wrapped up in something I’m going to call the Dot-Com effect.  It’s a condition where you live a few years or centuries in the future of the rest of the Universe, live a little too close to the world of start ups and melt downs, and in general are dealing with businesses that spend other peoples’ money and not their own. 

Lately I’ve been involved a lot in a cloud based accounting system and before one sells you any “air/cloud/space is the place to be” one needs to look long and hard if the cloud truly is a complete replacement for the more traditional desktop/server environment, or a major compromise.  When shopping for cloud solutions, consider the offline story.  Many don’t have a good one.  And I’m not just talking about how one should consider the Internet might be out or something as mundane like that, I’m talking about the times you want to freeze the data for whatever reason and job one should be that whatever cloud based solution one has allows such things.

Next is the issue of full comparative features.  Currently the cloud based solution of a major small business accounting package (hint it starts with the letter “Q”) only allows you to keep in the online version the past month’s bank reconcilation.  If the bookkeeper did not print out these reconciliations, you only have the last one.  This is a huge step backwards in functionality between the desktop version and the online version. 

Next is it truly scalable?  Some of the online versions only allow two to three people, whereas the desktop version is more functional. 

Bottom line I still see a lot of folks getting more and more confortable with something being backed up in the cloud…. but in all the small business clients that I deal with, very few have moved their business to the cloud.  In fact it’s quite rare.  Oh sure some ‘parts’ are in the cloud, but the vast majority of their daily operations can’t be moved to a cloud solution.  I’m not seeing a .dot com enterprises being built out here in the backwards part of the world called Central California.  We’re still a lot of brick and mortar multi million dollar enterprises with lots of workers, a few office staff.

Go into the cloud with your eyes wide open.

There’s differences.  And in some cases a lot.


2 Responses to Beware the Cloud

  1. John Larkin says:

    Susan, Perhaps it’s my proximity to Silicon Valley that has me asking this, but is there a difference in your comfort level between tagging / storing actual accounting information in the cloud and tagging / storing content ABOUT accounting data that is produced by, say, a state CPA society (or all 50) in the cloud?

  2. Susan – very timely conversation. Our cover story – shipping tomorrow in the SMB Partner Community magazine (you will receive next week) features our mtual friend Steven Banks on the cover with his customer PSP and we discuss cloud computing. Thanks for elevating this conversation and I look forward to your feedback 🙂