Should you be talking to your clients about Cloud Computing?

Consultant practice editor Mark Lee offers a handy guide to everything accountants need to know about ‘software as a service’ applications.

You may have heard the term ‘Cloud Computing’ before and perhaps thought it didn’t apply to you, but accountants should make an effort to find out more about this new technology – if not for themselves then on behalf of their clients. I recently spoke to Frances Critchlow, director of online legal employment document provider Cleardocs, who shed some light on the issue.

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JC | | Permalink

Mark

'.. In English this means that we can subscribe to software, download it, use it and get updates directly via the internet ...'

Rather a misleading (non mainstream) explanation of Cloud - Download it ? - Eh !

There are additional issues when discussing web apps with clients

  • does the client have an eCommerce or eBay site
  • selection of accounting web app that allows output from eBay to be loaded / integration with eCommerce app

There are many more, but just these two areas would really benefit the client by leaveraging the web app; yet these points do not seem to have been mentioned

Data Protection Act

adiaz73888 | | Permalink

Good article.  I like the Q&A format.  Here goes another Q.

Background:  You prepare personal tax returns using software like, for example, TaxCalc.

Question:  Is it legal to backup personal tax return files using cloud services such as:

(a) Norton 360?

(b) Carbonite?

(c) Humyo?

A set of YES/NO answers would be much appreciated.

ADG

gfeechan's picture

What about Cloud Accounting?

gfeechan | | Permalink

Mark

Good post. I was going to comment on the use of the word "download" but JC beat me to it.

I would have thought, however, that the first thing an accountant should know before speaking to clients about Cloud Computing is what Accounting packages are available in the cloud! Otherwise they are in real danger of ending up with egg on their faces when they tell the client all of the benefits of Cloud Computing and the client comes back with "Why did you tell me to buy Sage software in a box?"

Without being able to talk about using Cloud Computing in their own field of expertise, accountants can hardly appear credible talking about clients using it elsewhere. There are many good accounting offerings in the Cloud - Kashflow, Xero, E-conomic to name a few. Surely this is where accountants should start.

-- Glen John Feechan BA Hon. ACA glen@feechan.co.uk Not Just Numbers Blog Free Excel Pivot Table Video

And when the online service ...

aburt01 | | Permalink

offering no longer meets your needs or disappears/goes bust ...

how do you access your data then? do you have to pay to get your data out of their system? where do you put that data whilst you arrange a new service provider, on to your (non-existant) system and then transfer it somewhere else in the cloud?

Think this through very carefully, ensure you have disaster planning in place (second/backup service provider etc.etc.) before making all your knowledgeable IT staff redundant.

It's not just connectivity that can let you down.

mikecorry's picture

Cloud Computing

mikecorry | | Permalink

Just had a brief look at a new cloud offering to the accounting market called ∑autosum Accounts. Looks ideal for start ups and small business sector. 

NeilSeekings's picture

Cloud Payroll from MyPAYE

NeilSeekings | | Permalink

Glen's post regarding online accounting from Kashflow, e-conomic and Xero brings accounting software to the table, however I would like also to include online Payroll from MyPAYE, and we just happen to have full integration with the accounting software vendors mentioned above. We also have a white label Partner Program which allows accountants to run MyPAYE branded from their own website giving them total interaction with their clients on Payroll and accounting.  The Partner Program is free to join with no set up cost to the Accountant/Bookkeeper

The accountant can allow the client to run all or some or their entire payroll depending on the level of service they wish to provide. With a price tag of £1 per employee paid per month even if the client is paying weekly. This can give the client a considerable savings in comparison to purchasing and running conventional software. Add No updates to worry about No compliance issues when HMRC make changes and No contract to be tied into. No Back-ups and all accessed through a browser couldn’t be simpler to recommend and administer. Hope this is useful info Partner Program link http://www.mypaye.co.uk/PartnerProgram/Default.asp  Neil SeekingsSales DirectorMyPAYE

www.mypaye.co.uk

abelljms's picture

what if it's 'cloudy'?

abelljms | | Permalink

hmm, what happens when the clouds are obscured (router fails). I am not remotely brave enough to go this route, unless running at least two independent internet connections with 2 routers, and even then if BT fail you are zapped ! Even in London it is REALLY hard to achieve 2 independent connections – And I am near Canaryland, and we only have BT providing a service.

All this Cloud nonsense only works if the processing grunt is taking place in floating servers, and then the earthbound Client machines are just used for data entry, and viewing the results. For small businesses this is 100% irrelevant.

Oh, and of curse we have all the data-pinching issues of the internet and 12 year-old chinamen...

abelljms's picture

What else do accountants need to know before mentioning the Clou

abelljms | | Permalink

the name of a good lawyer, -it's nothing to do with us

 

 

CliveTulloch's picture

"What if it's cloudy?": BT connections and small business

CliveTulloch | | Permalink

I would be very interested in comments on abelljms' comments. I run a small charity - 6 employees, 500 volunteers. I am told that we aren't up to running a system ourselves (true) and am being urged to use the cloud. Most of the contrary advice I have received, from our outsourced IT maintenance guys (who have a vested interest in the answer) and an external consultant (who does not), is that the reliability of the cloud depends on one's BT phoneline and that the risk is too big. Are they right? How can one assess the phoneline?

-- Clive Tulloch

Richard Holmes's picture

Some thoughts from Liquid

Richard Holmes | | Permalink

As a leading provider in this field, we at Liquid Accounts hear many of these objections time and again.

Yes abelljms, your phone line may go down, but your hard drive may also crash, so there's always a risk with using any IT system. I suggest you go back to a big book and use a pencil. Seriously though, if you were in a business hit by flood, fire or theft, how would you recover. With any of the web based providers, you can work from any location, on any browser/machine and your data is in a secure location- hosted by people who know how to keep it secure, not in the back of your car on a laptop or, potentially underwater in your office.

Clive, you're right to look at both sides of the argument. The IT/data people will always side with the traditional software boys in spreading doom and gloom about anything new. Conversely, we will tell you about all the wonderful benefits of flexible working, modular packages and of course instant updates for things like the VAT changes.

There is a trade-off between the two, though broadband provision is only going to improve as is the value added by cloud applications.

On a slightly techie point- a true cloud application has just one iteration at the centre, which you use over the web. There are also some halfway house measures with costly servers installed to access traditional desktop software on the net.

Richard Holmes

Operations Director

www.liquidaccounts.net

 

0845 450 7304

 

Disclosure: Liquid Account's MD is the Chair of the BASDA Special Interest Group on Cloud Computing.

Data Protection Act Again

adiaz73888 | | Permalink

I understand that it is possible to do payroll in the cloud.  Payroll files contain private personal data.  Is it legal to trust the cloud provider with this data without some very explicit undertaking from the provider that the data is safe and that the setup is compliant with the Data Protection Act?

Sorry to be such a bore, but I find cloud computing really exciting but the legal implications scare me.

ADG

Eye in the sky

mp.kingscott-di... | | Permalink

I don't wish to be labelled a conspiracy theorist, but our paranoid government is already introducing measures to monitor our 'phone calls and electronic communications.

It strikes me that Cloud Computing is about to make it a whole lot easier for Big Brother to watch over us.

onesys's picture

Long-term Stability and Continuity or a Gamble?

onesys | | Permalink

Apart from my ‘Heath Robinson’ Internet Infrastructure comment in relation to Cloud Computing some weeks ago, I have the following concern.

One of the aspects that could make the new SaaS accounting applications attractive is the promise of a low total cost of ‘ownership’ compared with buying a traditional computer-based software application.

The problem with this is that it will take a high number of clients for the application provider to have a sustainable business model. All these low and attractive monthly payments from their customer base will have to be sufficient to cover the initial development costs of the application, buildings, servers, other hardware, security, support, training, sales, marketing, advertising, staff and ongoing development of the application. Oh and they have to make a profit.

Only a SaaS application provider with lots of credit and patience will have the stamina to last the course, as this will not happen overnight. The early adopters of these applications (you?) will always run the risk that the provider runs out of working capital before there are sufficient customers on board to make this business model pay for itself and what happens then?

The costs associated with the traditional business software applications that we install are based on sustainable business models. You may find them a little high but at least you’re not gambling with your investment.
 

david_terrar's picture

Some clearly Cloud based thoughts

david_terrar | | Permalink

Health warning - SaaS evangelist at work, just so you know where I'm coming from.  Mostly great stuff from Mark & Frances, but I want to chip in a few things that haven't been covered:

IMPLEMENTATION
For a given application be it accounting, ERP, CRM with SaaS you approach the project in a different way.  You can sign up to a small pilot of 1 or a few users, prove that it works and then roll the solution out to more and more users.  This means the implementation cost is almost always less than with conventional systems.  We've been implementing conventional software for 25 years and SaaS software for 5 years - we reckon the consulting costs are usually somewhere between 50 and 10% of a conventional on premise approach.  That's part of the reason that total cost of ownership is typically less for SaaS compared to the equivalent on premise or conventional software solution.

RISK
In conventional software solutions you buy all the server infrastructure and software up front and the software company is happy, because you the customer are taking on most of the the risk.  With SaaS you start with a small pilot,  The provider has to make sure that works otherwise you will turn the system off and take your data to another provider.  The SaaS provider only really makes money when you roll the solution out to the full set of users, and you keep it for 3, 4 or 5 years.  Suddenly all the risk is with the SaaS provider, who has to provide good service every day for a long period (not just in the sales campaign and the start of the relationship).

BACKUP AND BUSINESS CONTINUITY
One of the  keys to the success for a SaaS provider is that they can implement functionality, infrastructure and procedures which are then shared over a large community of users, and so you get economies of scale.  That's part of their business model.  That means that your SaaS provider will have comprehensive backup and continuity procedures in place, and usually with backups stored in several places around the world.  They will offer you a service level agreement with a 99.something percent availability, heading towards 99.9%.  The average small business, on the other hand,  might not be that good with the backup procedures.  How often do they do an off-site backup?  Have they tested that the backup works?  What happens if there is a flood when the server is under the managing partner's desk - anybody live in Cumbria?   Moving to a Cloud based solution can provide significant advantages.  If your Internet connection goes down, it's relatively easy to have mobile broadband as backup, or to move to the closest wifi enabled café.

Hi aburt01,
See above.  You have to do your due diligence on the software supplier.  There are issues of the company going bust for conventional software too, but they're just different not particularly better or worse.

Hi abelljms,
Sorry mate, you don't know what you are talking about.  Any application can work as SaaS or on premise (when properly designed).  One of my friends runs a company that provides SaaS based banking and trading software.  He has 49 of the top 50 banks as customers.  I've seen sensible SaaS solutions for just about every application for all sizes of business.  The issues you mentioned to do with floating servers aren't relevant.  It's just a choice of delivery for the application.  More and more software will be delivered this way over the coming years.  Many organizations will take a mixed approach, government is  already using SaaS and the Cloud, some will go all the way and run almost everything in the Cloud, but in any case this concept is here to stay. 

Hi CliveTulloch,
Making sure you have backup alternatives for your Internet access is a lot easier than all of the IT headaches that you need to be aware of, even with just  5 or 6 PCs fully loaded with on premise software and company data.  Even at that level somebody needs to perform the role of IT manager.  Please take a serious look at Cloud solutions.

Hi adiaz73888,
Data Protection - that's part of the due diligence you need to do.  You need to check where the SaaS provider has their servers, whether they have properly registered, understand their safety and privacy procedures.  There are plenty of customers doing this already, and trusting their business critical data to the Cloud.  Talk to your SaaS provider and they'll put you on to lots of examples (or you can call me).

Hi onesys,
It is a very different business model where every part of the company has to approach the job in a different way from development, sales, implementation, training through to ongoing support.  A SaaS provider lives on a steadily increasing recurring revenue stream.  It starts small and steadily grows.  People don’t tend to switch software that easily, so the SaaS provider gets to a certain point and then has a very steady and stable business.  The conventional software company lives on a maintenance revenue stream, but they have to keep selling software licences to survive.   I'd much prefer to have an installed base of clients who pay me a subscription every month, rather than having to make this quarter's software sales quota.  But let me give you a quote from Larry Ellison.  He's CEO of Oracle, one of the largest software companies in the World.  He owns 60% of the SaaS ERP company NetSuite.  He was one of the early investors in salesforce.com (probably owns between 5 and 10%).  He said in a (London) Times interview:
"I believe, over time, more and more software will be delivered as a service. I totally believe that... We have to be good at this, or we have a problem" 
That kind of says it all.

David Terrar

D2C and Twinfield
 

dahowlett's picture

Mama but we're all crazy now !!

dahowlett | | Permalink

It's fitting that as we approach the festive season in reading these comments I am minded of the lyrics of an old Slade song. As one who has slammed AW and the industry for conflating the issue, had supporters kick back at me and still come up smiling I can't help but think people are getting way bent out of shape on this discussion. So here's a few observations from someone who's been living and breathing this 'stuff' for a fair few years and believes that SaaS/On-demand/Cloud (SOC - now waiting for the K to turn up...get it?) is where we'll end up.

  • When I first started talking about this back in 2005, John S told me: 'Won't happen...at least not for the next five years.' The fact these debates are occurring puts paid to that idea because as I oberve the landscape, new vendors are popping up all the time. Why? Because there's a perceived need. Will they all survive? No. Will it matter? No. Why? Because software companies rarely die, they simply get acquired. Check out Oracle's acquisition path.
  • The recent injection of 'cloud' as a term to be consumed and understood is a reflection of the fashion driven nature of the IT industry. As Larry Ellison, CEO Oracle recently said: 'Last year it was fuchsia, this year it's puce.' He's right. Even though he's a heavy investor in these technologies via Salesforce.com and Netsuite he runs one of the largest on-premise based IT businesses in the world.
  • Jumping on 'cloud' has a nice fluffy feel to it that permeates marketing and serves to make us feel good about something that few understand. Especially when it's accompanied by shades of light blue on the web sites that are making this concept a centrepiece of their marketing. Conversely, it has opened the door to a technology firestorm around definition. It's happening here and on other AW threads. It's great for AW page views but is utterly useless to conveying a sense of what the tech can deliver to the user. That's what should be conveyed.
  • Contrary to what naysayers and accountants may think, it is not they who are deciding. It is end users. Time and again I hear end users telling me they listen to their peers. They have stopped listening to professionals that they consider to be locked in a way of thinking they no longer find helpful. A great example is John O'Nolan who fired his accountant for not wishing to work with his chosen solution. John has gone on to become something of a cause celebre and one of that vendors most effective sales people. Even though he does no selling for the company. This is massively important because it is a new phenomenon that I see permeating every level of business. When you know that then this discussion suddenly becomes sterile.
  • Look at the market. Sage's recent results show organic revenue decline. Compare with Xero's half year. Others are more coy but from the inside track I've been given (under NDA) The more successful vendors are going nuts with demand. At Salesforce.com's annual user shindig in San Francisco, I saw people queuing to meet Financialforce.com reps. These are people on the sales side of orgnaizations wanting to get info on accounting solutions that complement their CRM solutions. They're already sold. When did that last happen? It's a 1.5 million person market in that vendor's back yard alone.
  • Those who worry about security have good points to make but rarely have solutions in mind. Some of us are working on this from an industry perspective. It is clear the industry has not done a good job at providing assurance. If someone thinks it's insecure then no amount of arguing about that will persuade. The comments I see in these threads are adequate testimony to that topic. That's why I am working on this problem with others.
  • I've not had a printer since 2006 and was barely using one prior to. All my data resides in services that are driven by low cost internet based infrastructures. I HAVE NEVER LOST ANY DATA. Prior to, if a machine went belly up (as they have a habit of doing every 2-3 years) I'd spend days recreating my system and attempting to recreate the data - if that was at all possible. Since 2006 I've used, trashed or passed on 5 laptops and two deskside machines. I'm that careless with my kit. Today I have a deskside iMac and a MacBookPro, both of which are effortlessly synched with whatever data is out on the Internet. I live in Spain where the prospect of a 20MB download speed and 512K upload is a distant dream. Yet the internet serves me very well because it is a lot more than the connection, it is the service and all that goes around it.
  • The industry needs to do a much better job communicating its value proposition but it has to do so in a way that's contextually relevant to the user. It's starting that process now. When that happens, accountants may come on board. They may not. Those that do will win, those that don't? They could be in for a very tough time. If I had my way, I'd scrap all this talk of cloud and concentrate on things that matter like benefit, time to value, collaboration, speed of operation and so on. Getting mired in the details of how long it takes to get a keystroke is a side issue.
  • Asking users what they make of cloud is asking the wrong question. You'll get any number of answers based on what they were sold or heard. That's a demonstration of the hysteria around this topic that media soaks up with glee. It is little wonder it sets up the to and fro we see on AW. It doesn't happen where I live because I'm keenly aware that buyers don't want to buy cloud anything They want value for money solutions that make business sense and provide a way of using their IT investments to be better at what they do, all at diminishing cost. SOC does that - in spades. Put in those terms, this debate should take on a completely different flavour.

In conclusion, some of this may be in the wrong thread but then it is all getting a bit confusing. I'm sure the editors will sort that out.

John Stokdyk's picture

Stop misrepresenting Aweb & misquoting me

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

To Dennis Howlett:

Are you able to refer me or AccountingWEB.co.uk's members to any public record or documentary note of statements by me in the past five years to the effect that SaaS wouldn't happen?

I've been around the computing for a long time and grew up with the time-sharing industry, so I've got a fairly good idea of what SaaS is and its disruptive potential. I have never said that it wouldn't work, but unlike some people I do not have a vested interest in promoting it. And I'm experienced enough to know that AccountingWEB members won't run out and embrace a technology just because I tell them to.

What I can do is report on developments as they affect our members (as with the Software Satisfaction Awards), publish unbiased information about the topic and give members the space to discuss the concepts on their own terms - which was the whole point of last week's fringe meeting at the Business Cloud Summit.

What I have also reported in the past is that AccountingWEB members have been reluctant converts to the Cloud and during the early part of the decade, they showed little interest in the subject. In 2006, for example, only two people out of more than 1,000 respondents in our Software Satisfaction Awards used a Cloud accounting appliction. We sat up and took notice when that percentage jumped to 7.7% in 2007 and when it increased significantly in 2008 we launched BusinessCloud9.com, a website dedicated to serving the emerging industry. We saw yet another surge from Clould vendors in this year's Software Satisfaction Awards.

For the record, what I can point to are the following statements on AccountingWEB in the past:

David Carter, consultant editor, AccountingWEB, January 2006
"There's a lot of hot air coming from the software as a service (SaaS) market - but who's excited about that? Users aren't that interested in where their software comes from, but what it can do. If these suppliers start claiming their software is better than what's currently available, then I and other users will be interested." [Ain't that strage, that's the same thing several accountants interested in the Cloud said nearly four years later.]

John Stokdyk, Technology editor, December 2006
"Based on the progress reported so far by SaaS vendors and user comments on AccountingWEB during the year, David wins the decision on points. But that's not to say SaaS is going to go away..."

John Stokdyk, Software Satisfaction Awards report, November 2008
"The successes of software as a service (SaaS) providers this year demonstrated that a new generation of business systems has well and truly arrived."
__________________________
John Stokdyk, Technology editor

Data Protection Act

adiaz73888 | | Permalink

Many thanks, David Terrar, for addressing my concerns.  It is a good start.  I can build on that.

ADG

david_terrar's picture

The Business Case for SaaS and the Cloud

david_terrar | | Permalink

Hi ADG,

Cheers - you are most welcome!

All,

I'm delighted to report that AccountingWEB have just done a write up on something which is very dear to my heart.  I'm chair of the Intellect SaaS Group, and our first deliverable is a 24 page guide called the Business Case for Software as a Service.  Here is John Stokdyk's piece on it (and please note some banter in the comments):

The aim of the guide is to demystify the topic in a comprehensive way for the average business person, and to supply them with a checklist of the things they need to ask their SaaS provider, including thorough coverage of the legal aspects.  I think it would be a great help to anyone who has been involved in this discussion thread.  Follow the link to the other article and you get to the download page for the pdf, or you can email me for a hard copy.

David Terrar

D2C and Twinfield

listerramjet's picture

beware jargon

listerramjet | | Permalink

number of different meanings = number of people reading it!

Cloud is just another bit of jargon. What it really means is water vapour. When you heat it up you get steam - lots of that on this thread!

david_terrar's picture

Add some value please

david_terrar | | Permalink

Sorry listerramjet but your comment adds no value to this discussion.  Mark's original article and the subsequent discussion is about a technology approach and solutions that add business value.  Some of us on this thread are trying to demystify the topic.  As for any topic, it comes with some terms that need explaining.  Are you seriously saying that there will be as many definitions for debit and credit as the people who read those terms?  You are welcome to you're opinion that you think SaaS or Cloud accounting is all steam and hot air, but you haven't presented any facts or argument that move the debate along - just a waste of space.  This kind of interjection is what gives AccountingWEB a bad name and makes people move elsewhere.

David Terrar

D2C and WordFrame

listerramjet's picture

hmmmm - value?

listerramjet | | Permalink

I guess that as a supplier of a web based offering then adding value is in your domain - but to my mind the value is not in the marketing jargon (or is that hype?).

But with "cloud" you have something of a crowded set of competing noise to deal with. And to be honest, I don't think you have it as well as some of the other claimants.

BTW to the best of my knowledge debit has only two meanings - one for the accoutant and one for the banker (ditto credit).

david_terrar's picture

Value and jargon

david_terrar | | Permalink

Hi listerramjet ,
Now the value I was talking about was in adding to this discussion thread.  I'll leave others to decide whether you were adding value or not.

Hopefully when we SaaS providers are articulating the value of the Cloud proposition we don't do it with marketing buzzwords, but we do it with sensible jargon free language , for example - it's more flexible, 24/7 access  - any time, any place, any where, it's generally cheaper, it reduces internal infrastructure costs and requirements, it facilitates collaboration and it's greener (and by the way, I'm quoting/paraphrasing Richard Messik of Vantis, a real Cloud user and the lead/moderator of the Cloud discussion threads here on AccountingWEB).

There is a lot of noise and marketing hype on the Cloud and SaaS topic.  It's one of the things I'm trying to cut through and to get my vendor colleagues to talk business issues, rather than technical jargon and marketing speak.  Sadly I've been in this game for 30 years, and it has been a perennial problem. 

You say "I don't think you have it as well as some of the other claimants".  Can you explain, because I don't understand what you mean?

Very glad you recognize that debits and credits can be defined so that there aren't as many explanations as there are people.  Actually I believe that the Cloud terminology can be defined properly, so that we cover software (as a Service) and infrastructure and platform, and also the issue of public clouds and private clouds.  Part of the reason we haven't had this kind of thing with paradigm shifts before is that with the move from DOS to Windows, you could easily see the difference.  With the shift to client/server you could actually see the server in the corner, and the wires leading to the PC clients.  With the Cloud, all of these facilities I'm using are out there behind my browser in far off places at the other end of a click.  However, I believe we'll be able to get past these arguments soon, and move on to things that are going to make accountants do a better, faster, easier more profitable job.

David Terrar

D2C and WordFrame  
 

listerramjet's picture

oh David

listerramjet | | Permalink

surely you have worked out by now that "cloud" and "saas" are no more than jargon buzzwords?

david_terrar's picture

Names

david_terrar | | Permalink

Hi listerramjet,

New technology like Cloud or SaaS needs a name, but like a USB memory stick, I'm more interested in what it can do for me than what USB means or any marketing spin on how it was manufactured.  Interesting that some suppliers are avoiding the Cloud term and sticking with SaaS and On Demand.  As long as we get clarity on what these terms mean and keep to business benefits rather than technology arguments, that has got to be good.

David Terrar

D2C and WordFrame

listerramjet's picture

Okey Dokey

listerramjet | | Permalink

agree a name is useful, but what it (they) really need is an (open) standard. At the moment I think what you have is a selection of disparate closed proprietary products. And the names have little objective meaning.

Think OLAP if you want a model. OK that might actually be no more than a set of closed proprietary products, but at least it has a standard setter and a (relatively) objective definition and set of standards, against which offerings may be measured.

And OK I know that, in the accouting software product space at least, the users are probably not particularly interested...

david_terrar's picture

Sorry - I don't get what you mean

david_terrar | | Permalink

Hi Alastair/listerramjet,

Sorry but I do not understnd what you mean by "what you have is a selection of disparate closed proprietary products. And the names have little objective meaning."  Products? Also, bringing in a comparison to OLAP really doesn't help either.

Obviously we need agreement on what these terms mean and the current confusion, exacerbated by some marketing hyperbole on the part of some providers, is a hurdle/self inflicted wound we have to get over.  The Cloud Computing term can be explained and hopefully all parties can agree on suitable wording (what is in Wikipedia today is OK by me).  Cloud consists of a stack of Software as a Service, Platform as a Service (for the developer community) and Infrastructure as a Service (for IT management/service providers) and all of those terms have an objective meaning to me, and we can define them sensibly too.  With the Cloud, we have to cater for the public Cloud and then the private Cloud for larger/some organisations who want to use this technology approach but be in control more themselves.  I still get an objective meaning from those two as well.  

So either I've missd your point completely, or more likely I just don't agree with you.  Let's get these terms properly defined so we get beyond the jargon and start talking business (I keep saying that in the optimistic hope that we'll get there eventually).   

Actually we need a "Cloud Corner" glossary on accountingWEB, and a place (over in the discussion groups) where these terms can be debated if there is still any confusion or lack of acceptance.

David Terrar

D2C and WordFrame

 

listerramjet's picture

Accounting Web the arbiter?

listerramjet | | Permalink

David, I think for credibility you need an independent owner of the standards - maybe AWeb might facilitate but I'm not convinced that is the way to go - ditto Wikipedia.

The point about OLAP is that it is just a buzz word, but it has in the shape of the OLAP report (now renamed http://www.bi-verdict.com/) an independent owner of the term. That provides definitions rather than standards, but it is at least objective, and can be used as a benchmarch for proprietary products.

I'm not sure you are getting this, but jargon words "owned" by the vendors are just marketing hype. You will never get a standard definition that way.

david_terrar's picture

Don't think you are getting this at all + Standards initiative

david_terrar | | Permalink

Hi Alastair/listerramjet,

Sorry, but I don't think Cloud, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS as terms are "owned" by any vendor in the same way utility computing, bureaux or application service provider weren't either.   I have no problem with an "independent" arbiter gettig involved if there is seious disagreement betwen vendors, but actually we don't need that.  The industry and the 3 UK vendor groupings have that covered.  We need consensus on what the terms mean, and there is a separate place for standards. 

It is no coincidence that in the last 9 months the Intellect SaaS Group, the BASDA's Cloud SIG and a third vendor community EuroCloud UK have all been formed.  There is obvious overlap and all three groups are trying to address the clear market demand for providing better information on SaaS and the Cloud to business in all its forms, and to demystify a topic that is too often described with technology jargon, when it should be explained in terms of the business benefits it can provide.  The 3 groups are trying to hit exactly the problem we are talking about here.  Furthermore,  Philip Wainewright, the chair of EuroCloud UK, myself as  the chair of Intellect SaaS Group, and BASDA's Jairo Rojas met with Richard Anning , head of the ICAEW's IT Faculty (as honest broker or independent arbiter) on Wednesday last week to discuss an excellent initiative suggested by Dennis Howlett.  The aim is for the 3 vendor groups to work together with the Institute representing their membership on the buy side of the equation to address topics like security (on various levels from data to single sign on  to APIs) to see if we can agree best practice or some form of quality mark that all of the vendors could sign up to.  What we don't want is some complicated set of standards of the kind that OASIS and the OMG and other groups are talking about - whatever we agree has to be practical, and add value for the buyer (not the vendor).  We have a number of initiatives that we are now working on, as well as making sure each group cooperates where possible and uses their resources on complimentary things.  Expect some specific announcements soon.

David Terrar

D2C and WordFrame

Grow Up Already

Anonymous | | Permalink

Does anyone else find this "who can p**s the highest against the wall" debate between  David Terrar and listeramjet incredibly tedious?

dahowlett's picture

Moved on

dahowlett | | Permalink

This discussion has moved on apace. Those concerned with the issue of business led definitional issues and standards might find this post useful. If not that one then this? which adds an international dimension.

listerramjet's picture

Hi David

listerramjet | | Permalink

I think what you are suggesting would be a big step forward. Hope it goes well.

John Stokdyk's picture

Boys, boys, boys...

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

Remember, 'tis the season of goodwill and as Anonymous above points out, many ordinary AccountingWEB members get turned off by the relentless grind of software self-definition arguments.

This is an important topic, and a feature of any emerging technology market. Mark's original article did touch a sensitive spot, because many accountants still don't know what you're talking about when you say "Cloud Computing". The phrase is nebulous, and different people will attempt to define it in ways that help to promote their specific offerings.

As David mentioned, we have created a space in our Cloud accounting discussion group where all of these arguments can be exercised to the fullest extent without alienating members who aren't interested. Listeramjet should take a look at the Trash the terminology thread, where many similar views have been expressed.

But the point is not to trash the whole industry. It's here to stay and it is having a  significant impact on business and accountancy - take a look at our Software Satisfaction Awards results if you want further evidence. Some very useful material is coming out of the discussion group around the Business case for Cloud Computing and Total cost of ownership comparisons. More is on the way when I get a chance to dig into my notes from our recent accounting fringe panel at the Business Cloud Summit earlier this month.

And, I would hazard, direct feedback and dialogue between AccountingWEB.co.uk members and the Cloud community is just as important as industry groups getting together to chew over their definitions and data standards. As always, try to keep the conversations on AccountingWEB.co.uk civil and constructive.

Thanks for all the contributions to this thread and see you all over in the Cloud discussion group.
_____________________________
John Stokdyk, Technology editor

listerramjet's picture

Hi John

listerramjet | | Permalink

apologies if I have upset anyone, but I do think David's last reply identifies something that stands a chance of producing significant value. With my "user of accounting software" hat on I am more interested in business jargon than technology jargon!

BTW the increasing number of annonymous comments on this site has significantly reduced its value, even ignoring the boorish comments that appeared here.

david_terrar's picture

Cheers!

david_terrar | | Permalink

H Alastair/listerramjet,

Thanks!  I'm really glad you like the initiative.  There are a lot of cats to wrangle to try and get something agreed so there is still a long way to go, but the 3 vendor groups are very keen to see what can be done with ICAEW's help. 

And we are in COMPLETE agreement over the anonymous types.  If they are going to criticize the debate here, they should at least have the guts to show who they are. 

David Terrar

D2C and WordFrame

A Job Well Done!

Anonymous | | Permalink

As the previous anonymous comment seems to have stopped the pair of you from arguing like seven year olds in a playground, I would say that it has in fact added immense value to the debate.