Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources or resources on the internet rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle your mission critical applications. In cloud computing, the word is used as a metaphor for the internet. so the phrase cloud computing means "a type of Internet-based computing," where different services - such as servers, storage and applications - are delivered to an organization's computers and devices through the Internet.
A lot of today's applications are now available through cloud computing. One of these applications is QuickBooks Online. While for years QuickBooks was looked as an accounting program that is installed on a user's desktop computer using a CD-Rom, QuickBooks has now went to the cloud. They developed an online cloud based program that allows the user to easily do all their business accounting online.
Microsoft Office 365 is another cloud based subscription software. While we are used to installing office on the local desktop, Microsoft has come out with a web based version of their world famous office software.
Now in these two examples alone it is easier for Microsoft and Quickbooks to do online updates, support is easier for them and maintenance is a snap. These two examples along with many others will also say that this is the way to go because you can do your work from anywhere from any device. To their credit, they are right! Updating your accounting can be done from any device from any place with an internet connection. What they don't tell you is the potential pitfalls.
By solely relying on cloud based subscription software, you are putting yourself and your company at risk.
First thing ... is what happens if you stop payment on your subscription either intentionally or accidentally? They turn off your account and you lose all your valuable data. No backup ... nothing... gone. When someone else is looking after your data, they are not necessarily looking after your best interest. No online service is going to be super sensitive toward your data when ensuring it's safety and security. What if they go out of business? Your data can become permanently lost.
Secondly ... having your important information online exposes it to hacking. Government institutions and banks have been hacked into in the past. You don't think they can hack into Quickbooks online or Office 365? Think again! From there they can view your personal company accounting and if they are good enough alter the information. Just as hacking is a real threat, so is insider threats. What if some disgruntled employee wants to hurt the reputation of Quickbooks. You the end customer can suffer in the end. Also keep in mind, many of these companies are outsourcing so it is not even guaranteed your data is in your home country. Employees can access your data from half way across the world. It opens up a world of problems if someone decides to become resentful. Data breaches also lead to legal problems as well.
Thirdly ... you will always need an internet connection to see your data. Suppose there is an outage. You cannot edit that important document or look at your accounting until you reestablish a connection. You are at the mercy of the cloud. To me, this seems dangerous and unnecessary. Again, what if you need support and you call them and their computer is down. You can't get help from them even though you are entitled to it. Keeping things locally is always better. Now your computer can have problems as well but that is why you have a backup computer with the data backed up. It just makes things safer. There are too many variables the other way.
Finally ... backing up your data can cumbersome. Even if you backup your Quickbooks data locally, are you able to view it once you backed it up. Since the online version of Quickbooks is different from the desktop version, it may be impossible to see your data locally. What about those important word documents? do you have a backup of those as well? It just seems like if you are going to take the necessary steps to backup your really important data then it would be a good idea to keep things local in the first place.
While cloud computing is here to stay, as a business it is a good idea to determine what should be stored online and what should not. There are a lot of good cloud services out there. Again, just make sure you have backups, receipts and copies in case you are unable to access it when you really need it. Like any risk you take, you will need to evaluate the pros and the cons of taking it.