– Adam Sternis founder and CEO of Infinitely Virtual (www.infinitelyvirtual.com), says:
SaaS — Software as a Service — is a computing distribution model in which businesses rent software online, from a host, rather than purchasing and installing it locally. SaaS, a fundamental concept behind centralized computing, enlists the Internet to do the heavy lifting, with users accessing their apps, tools and files using a web browser. With the SaaS model’s myriad advantages, software rental has become an increasingly popular option for businesses moving to the cloud.
And SaaS has been especially well-received by those in the finance and accounting. SaaS is both cost-effective – always a selling point among those who manage the books –and ideally suited to the accounting function. Consider: SaaS provides access to software and its functions remotely as a web-based service. SaaS also enables organizations to access business functionality at a cost that is typically less than paying for licensed applications, since pricing is based on a monthly fee. And because the software is hosted remotely, businesses do not have to invest in additional hardware. SaaS removes the need for organizations to handle installation, set-up and daily upkeep and maintenance. All a company needs are PCs and an Internet connection; the host provides the rest (the infrastructure, the software, the support staff).
SaaS applications themselves have gone mainstream. QuickBooks, Intuit’s market-leading financial management software, is among those core applications that are now available on a cloud-hosted basis. Intuit Commercial Hosts – that is, cloud hosting companies authorized to distribute the application — provide QuickBooks capability to their clients via a virtual server platform, delivering Intuit’s go-to application to businesses that want the advantages of 24×7, secure, hosted data.
With the SaaS implementation of QuickBooks, users log into a centralized web host to access the software. Users open their files and the app only while online. Intuit maintains rigorous criteria for QuickBooks hosting, evaluating hosting providers according to their ability to provide superior application hosting platforms, including best-in-class security, customer support, uptime and reliability, and licensing compliance management. Equipped with just about any popular client platform — Windows, Linux, Mac, iPad or Android — users can stream applications like QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Accountant from the cloud directly to their desktop. And through the cloud, users can share QuickBooks data files with associates anywhere in the world.
The benefits of the SaaS model speak for themselves: easier administration, automatic updates and patch management, compatibility (all users have the same version of software), easier collaboration (for the same reason), global accessibility, and, of course, affordability (organizations can pay for computing power then need without having to purchase expensive hardware and software).
For financial pros, the reasons to look to the cloud are definitely adding up.