There is little doubt the most talked about topic in the information technology world is the debate over the benefits and security concerns of using cloud-based systems. For a long time, it seemed that there were only two sides of the argument:
- Pro-Cloud Argument – “Cloud computing offers so many advantages of sharing data and outsourcing the data backup and hardware support. Sure, there may be issues regarding the security of my data. But, somebody else is looking after that…. Aren’t they?”
- Anti-Cloud Argument – “My data is much safer in my office behind my company firewall. I have a solid network that is well administered by my staff. I do not see the benefits of cloud computing.”
We believe that both of these arguments have some merit, but both are overly simplistic. In many ways the security supporting cloud-based solutions is far superior to that which many offices have for their firewalls and overall security protection. Therefore, to argue that your office environment is more secure than a cloud-based solution may not stand up to scrutiny. Certainly, there are significant data-sharing and hardware support benefits to be had from cloud-based solutions. However, these features may solve problems that some clients do not have. Before adopting any new technology, be sure you are solving a real problem that you actually experience or are susceptible to.
In light of these considerations, we have developed a strategy that does not fully embrace either of the above two arguments. Our strategy is a middle ground and can be described as: Moving Forward Cautiously
We believe there are many strong arguments for the benefits of cloud-based technologies. However, data security is a critical issue that must be understood and addressed with the proper technical resources. While we move forward with promising technologies like cloud computing, we still remain cautious. We believe it is better to be overly cautious than extremely sorry for allowing a data breach.
We have followed this policy for several years. Other responsible professionals also share this point of view. The April 2014 issue of the Journal of Accountancy had an article with the promising title, “Harnessing the Power of the Cloud.” This article opened with the sobering statement, “Experts advise caution as the profession exploits the great potential of the emerging technologies.” The article goes on to say, “CPAs leveraging the web for their business efforts need to be aware of the security concerns and protect themselves and their clients and companies’ data.”
Clearly there are benefits to be had from new technologies like cloud computing. There are also security issues that should not be ignored. In line with this strategic thinking, we have developed the following company policies:
1. On-premises Solution
For clients that want an accounting and portfolio tracking software system they can install and operate from their own offices, we will continue to provide that solution for the foreseeable future. Our Version 9.5 product is an outstanding financial reporting system that can be installed on your private network servers where you maintain total control over your data and its security.
2. Invest in New Technologies
We will also continue to develop new products using the latest technologies, such as cloud computing, improved user interface techniques, or advanced methods of customer support. We offer our clients a view into these new technologies, so they can provide feedback from their perspective. This also enables them to prepare for a potential future transition to a new product.
3. Manage New Technologies Effectively
We will persist in the constant evaluation of new technologies and security features to assess their overall strengths and weaknesses. We seek to build on the strengths they offer while understanding their weaknesses and we will take steps to address those shortcomings before exposing clients to unnecessary risks. This will enable us to help clients understand the merits and deficiencies of all their options, as they evaluate the alternatives available to them.
We hope this article is helpful as we work with you meet your reporting needs. We are proud of our commitment to provide great financial reporting solutions while maintaining the highest levels of customer attention and support.
Ed Van Deman
Editor’s Note: We are always interested in your comments and feedback. You can write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.