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May 14, 2010
2 Min Read
Xcentric's cloud platform lets CPA firms reduce their IT overhead and worries, and also get the SaaS-class security, compliance and mobile/web access benefits.For SMBs of all types and sizes, cloud computing holds -- and is beginning to deliver on -- the promise of backroom-less IT, along with significantly less IT staff/expertise requirements.
For CPA firms, SaaS/cloud solutions deliver additional important benefits: the ability to work with client data, and collaborate, without needing to transfer files electronically, much less physically, and enabling CPAs to access and work with client data from any Internet/web-enabled desktop, notebook, or even smartphone, whether in or out of the office.
One company helping accounting firms is Xcentric, which provides cloud services, along with on-premise network infrastructure services (plan, deploy, manage and support), and consulting services.
But even small CPA firms use other programs as well. "The average CPA firm has 65 unique applications that they run," says Trey James, CEO at Xcentric. "Of those, maybe two to three are available in cloud format from the vendor. We can take a company's entire technical infrastructure and put it into the cloud. The company still needs browsers and Internet access, but no more servers."
Unlike traditional hosting firms, Xcentric doesn't take the CPA firms physical servers. "We install their applications on our infrastructure, which includes some multi-tenant (common code for multiple customers), and some that won't be. Some applications we install into our environment in a way that they can become multi-tenant... but mostly we are using scripting, virtualization, and other best practices to replicate what they're doing in our cloud environment."
Currently, says James, "We have fifty accounting firms running in our cloud environment, and another 250 we do managed services for." This lets the companies reduce/eliminate their IT staff needs, "or repurpose and reposition IT staff into a more strategic role."
The economic impact of moving to the cloud -- it normalizes/flattens the IT budget/"spend," versus being fairly peaky every three to five years for replacement. For companies who have been underspending on IT -- and often lagging on concerns like backup, security, compliance, and disaster recovery/business continuity, this can leapfrog them to where they need to be.
The typical migration time for a new firm can be as little as three to four weeks, says James. "We host over 1,100 application titles -- about 98% of what the accounting profession uses. We have not run into an application we haven't already done in a long time."
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