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CPA Perspective on Cloud ERP Software 

The Benefits of Cloud and Virtualization Technology for the CPA

More and more one hears about companies moving to the cloud. But what does this mean exactly? Clearly, companies are not physically moving into the clouds. Instead, cloud computing and virtualization technology refers to a form of storage that is accessible through an internet connection. This provides a centralized place to store data and make information accessible to staff members to work on together.

As businesses grow in size and expand into all parts of the world, data management becomes more of a hassle. For example, my former employer, 2m Company, is a wholesale company with 13 different branches across the United States. 2m company shares data across the branches through email. Therefore, if two people from two different branches wanted to both work on a project together, they would constantly have to email back and forth the current version of their spreadsheet. If they were both working on the spreadsheet, they might end up with two separate forms of the spreadsheet in the end. This is a very inefficient use of time. 

Cloud computing would allow both of the employees to access the file on a server in the cloud no matter what location they were in, as long as they both had an internet connection. This reduces the time lag between the two locations and each employee would know whether the other person has worked on the spreadsheet or not.

2m Company also uses a paper trail to take orders, send the shipment, and send the invoice. For example, after an order gets written up, first the paper has to be delivered to the warehouse causing a delay. Then, after the warehouse ships the order, the paperwork has to be shipped to the corporate office for billing which causes another delay. Then, there is a delay from the bill going from corporate to the customer. Through cloud computing, 2m Company could create a server that automatically sends the information where it needs to go. 2m could eliminate the time lag of shipping the documents and other inefficiencies.

My current employer, the CPA firm , manages data in a different fashion through a wide area network. the CPA firm plans to use cloud computing so that its employees in all 21 of its offices can access data wherever they are and work cooperatively with employees in other offices. Currently, there is a time lag when the CPA firm access data from another office. There are several advantages for the CPA firm to move into the cloud. Here are a few examples:

1. Flexibility. Space can be added to the servers easily and can be updated in one location.

2. The server is centralized. This means they do not need to access separate servers at different offices. The data is all in one spot.

3. There is a higher level of security because data does not stay on the local computers. There is also a very high level of security at the data centers.

4. Standardization. Companies can spend a lot of money on IT. Cloud computing moves IT responsibility to one location and all computers at the offices can have the same image. This means cost savings because the IT department does not need to spend time trying to fix individual computers.

The CPA firm has taken this a step even further with other virtualization technology such as their phone system. 2m company uses a standard phone system which means when they need to dial long distance to call another branch, they have to pay long distance fees. the CPA firm on the other hand, uses Voice over IP, an internet phone. This means they can call others for much cheaper prices and can call other offices for free by just dialing the extension.

As one can see from the two examples, the CPA firm is the more efficient at managing its information and working with its other branches. Files can be viewed and edited from multiple locations at the same time, space can be updated faster, the server is centralized, there is a higher security, and there are standardization benefits. There are many benefits of cloud and virtualization technology.  

By: David Hochstatter, CPA 

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