There are a variety of advantages of using Citrix technologies for QuickBooks hosting in the cloud. On paper, it’s easy to overlook some of the dramatic improvements to infrastructure and security that can be possible thanks to Citrix’s world-class technology. If you’ve decided to go with cloud hosting for QuickBooks software, the next decision that needs to be made surrounds which hosting provider to choose. Many of the solutions available out there are acceptable, though often corners are cut to reduce internal costs. Citrix isn’t the cheapest solution out there, but what are you giving up by going with a custom proprietary solution?

Why Choose Cloud Hosting for QuickBooks in the First Place?

It isn’t enough that you should have access to your data. You should be able to log in quickly, securely, and with absolute certainty that your data is being protected on all sides. After all, the main reason you should go with cloud-based hosting is to prevent the countless issues that can crop up when you’re hosting your own out of a local office. Setup and maintenance costs can add up, and what’s to protect your data in the event of an unforeseen circumstance? Natural disasters, such as this year’s Hurricane Sandy which wreaked havoc on businesses and service providers throughout the Northwest. By providing redundant data storage which is kept in different regions, your data is better secured.

What are the Advantages of Cloud Hosting for QuickBooks using Citrix?

Citrix XenApp 6.0 offers the latest in secure technology with user authentication, single sign on, and SSL session encryption. This is all provided and managed through a reliable service that boasts virtually constant uptime and continuous support. It’s not just about security and uptime, though. Citrix also enables the user to take advantage of a universal print driver which will pick up on various printers many competitors would not. It’s important that your solution integrate seamlessly with the equipment you have at the office, and this is just one way Citrix has made it a little easier. This universal driver is included with the service and not some paid additional software some other platforms charge users extra to utilize. In any cloud-based computing environment, speed is everything. You don’t want something that lags behind to the point where you have to sit and wait between operations so the remote system can catch up. Citrix typically clocks in between two and three times faster than its competition for login time and application response. That’s an especially important factor when you consider just how many small tasks users need to complete over time. For many reasons, in addition to the ones listed here, choosing cloud hosting for QuickBooks that uses Citrix technology is a wise decision. It’s just one of several factors to consider, but a very important one considering how vital your business’ financial records are to company operations and payroll. You should also consider what type of server your company’s QuickBooks is being hosted on. Ask the important questions, like whether or not the provider is utilizing a SAS70 data center, or if it is authorized by Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks) to host its software. You might be surprised how many providers claim to be the “best” out there but haven’t even covered these basic needs. Would you trust your bookkeeping software to just any platform?

Bringing your QuickBooks server to the cloud is like having your family’s fortune tucked away in a bank vault guarded around the clock. Sure, you could keep your company’s books on local machines at the office, but what happens when a bolt of lightning corrupts the data? Would you be able to recover from a robbery or fire? There are many reasons more businesses today are trusting their data to the cloud. The added security and loss prevention is highlighted by the fact that you don’t have to spend time and money maintaining anything. It’s all done for you, and your accounting department will be very grateful for that. Even if you aren’t in the market for a cloud-based QuickBooks server, here are three reasons you should at least consider it.

Cost Reduction

What are your current IT costs? Imagine how much those costs will increase when your business grows by a factor of two. With every additional resource, the demand on your company’s IT infrastructure increases, and is often multiplied with each new hiring phase you go through. Keeping QuickBooks and other important business software on local machines means man hours to maintain, back up, and update your software. Here at HarborCloud, we take care of all of that for you. You don’t have to spend a single penny keeping your software updated. You just have to worry about keeping your books updated with the latest information. With redundant storage and instant access wherever you are in the world, your data is kept safe and available to you when and where you need it most. All this is done without having to hire an additional employee or put off other jobs your current staff could be spending more productive time on.

Reliability

Even the simplest computer setup can cause serious issues for a company. Getting bills paid and payroll handled are timely responsibilities which can be thrown off by even the simplest of system issues. Having a redundant copy of your data in the cloud, ready for you to use at a moment’s notice, is just good planning. You don’t want to get caught without the data you need when a client calls or the accountant needs to get things done. Having access to your QuickBooks account where and when you need it is essential to smooth business operations. Even an expensive server hosted in a colocation only works if the data center you have it hosted in is operating normally. Unforeseen circumstances can happen. This is a hard lesson many companies based in the Northeastern region of the U.S. learned this year when Hurricane Sandy caused massive outages throughout the area. If you have redundant backups of your data stored in multiple locations, a common feature of cloud hosting, then you know you’ll be able to log in and get things done despite any regional circumstances.

Ease of Access

The problem with having a local installation of any business software is that it’s only as accessible as the local system. When happens when you’re at home or away on a trip and someone at the office needs you to bring up information stored on the local QuickBooks system? You could remotely access the machine, pending it’s powered on and ready to accept connections, or you could log in from a secured site online. HarborCloud’s servers are up 24/7/365. They don’t take vacations or sleep at night, and you can rest assured that you can access your data no matter where you are in the world. This isn’t a luxury many small businesses have. Often, a small IT department is only readily available at certain times during the day. Even an on-call associate might have to take time traveling out to the colocation to service a downed system. These hassles aren’t an issue for businesses that trust their QuickBooks server to the cloud.

Your company’s financial records are perhaps the most important component to maintaining the smooth operation of your business. Keeping financial records secure is extremely important, not only to keep this information out of unwanted hands, but to keep it safe in the event of unforeseen circumstances. So, what are the best practices for data security? How can you make sure your company’s sensitive information doesn’t become lost or fall into the wrong hands? In this article, we’ll take a quick look at some of the practices every business should consider.

Take Advantage of Access Restriction Features

QuickBooks enables you to restrict access to various components of the data depending on the type of user that’s logged in. For example, you might not want to let your shipping manager have access to payroll, but you do want them to have access to information related to accounts receivable. This is possible with QuickBooks, and it’s always a good idea to take time out to learn how to modify user permissions in order to preserve your company’s financial records accordingly. In any small or medium business, there should really only be a very select few individuals with access to most of your company’s QuickBooks information. Your CEO, CFO, accountant, and perhaps a very few others. QuickBooks is one of the most important programs to utilize the best practices for data security with. This all starts with its built-in user account features. Just by taking a moment to set this up, you’re taking big steps to close those gaps.

Utilize a Trusted Cloud-Based Service Provider

Keeping data out of your local office puts your business at a big advantage in terms of data security and preservation. Redundancy and physical security of your hosting equipment is paramount to keeping your business’ most guarded information safe from outside influences. A burglary, fire, hurricane, earthquake, and even something as common as a lightning strike can result in lost and compromised data. Off-site redundancy is also a crucial factor. If you lose your data for any reason on one system, it should be regularly preserved in another location. A physical backup does little good if it’s kept in the same building as your original working copy. One of the best practices for data security any company should consider is keeping your most important data in a secured location outside of the office. This could be in a dedicated server in a data center located off site or through a managed hosting solution. Here at HarborCloud, we take security very seriously. In fact, even our data centers are equipped with biometric and keycard access so only vetted and trusted technicians have access to the hardware used to host your QuickBooks data. To take it a step further, we’ve adopted Citrix XenApp 6.0 as our platform of choice in part because of its industry-leading security features which include: user authentication, single sign on, and SSL session encryption.

Do Accounting in a Dedicated Space

Small businesses are especially susceptible to a lack of discretion regarding accounting and payroll. It’s important that anyone responsible for handling financial matters on behalf of the company be able to work in a space where they can have some expectation of privacy from unauthorized parties while working. This may mean putting your management and accounting staff in a separate area. It might seem silly, but nosey employees are commonplace, even in small companies. Payroll is perhaps the biggest area where privacy is essential in order to preserve the security of records. Encourage accounting staff to always lock their computer when they step away and never to leave information up on screen while speaking to an employee that you wouldn’t want them to see. With these simple steps in place, you should have a bit more peace of mind regarding QuickBooks data security.

Making the decision to move critical business applications to the cloud is an important and often fruitful decision for almost any company. Traditional self-managed solutions are still a popular choice among businesses, but they come at a demand in IT resources. Not only would your business be responsible for the initial costs and maintenance of the hardware and software, but the man hours it takes to perform critical updates and respond to any issues that might occur. So, what makes cloud adoption such an appealing decision for modern businesses? Whether your company deals in products or services, there are a number of compelling thoughts to consider when making the decision to move your critical applications to the cloud.

The Cloud Reduces IT Overhead and Puts Focus on the Product

The prevalence of cloud-based solutions has ushered in a new era for business. Not only do these services remove the burden of hardware management from your IT department, but your company benefits from a significantly reduced cost of entry. Commercial cloud services are typically hosted in much larger data centers than the vast majority of any small or medium businesses. Just as you would save money by buying in bulk at your local grocer, companies (like HarborCloud) are able to pass down these savings to their clients. Your company may have very little interest in investing time into the creation and maintenance of your servers and internal application hosting. You want to focus your time and energy on your products and/or services so you can get more done for your customers. This is where cloud adoption can certainly help, regardless of the size or type of company you’re operating.

The Cloud Makes it Easier to Scale

As your business grows, you have to make the hard decision between adding on to your existing IT infrastructure or replacing your hardware profile to meet your company’s projected requirements. One choice would give you a quick fix with a moderate investment while the other would be a more lasting solution at a higher initial cost. This dilemma is common among businesses that experience growth while hosting their own internal systems. By contrast, scaling your current setup on the cloud could be a matter of picking up the phone and giving your provider a call. HarborCloud has solutions to meet the needs of a wide variety of company types. You don’t have to buy expensive equipment or spend a single hour of your staff’s time with assembly or installation.

The Cloud Makes Companies More Flexible

Flexibility and scalability go hand-in-hand, but the benefits to your company that comes from having a cloud-based suite of applications are many. In a modern world, the ability to pivot around the needs of your customers is essential for the longevity of any business. This may mean bringing in additional application support or hosting in order to meet those needs. Cloud adoption opens your company up to more options and quick availability of resources when and where you need it. Let’s say you have a client that needs you to handle a big, but temporary project. You could by the hardware and software you need to take the project on only to be stuck with the bill after the fact, or you could make a phone call and have the necessary resources added to your existing account and ready to go right away at a fraction of the cost. Which would you prefer?

The Cloud Helps Companies Maintain Mobility

Modern businesses are beginning to open up to the idea of having remote employees that work from the comfort of their homes or even across the world. Being able to log in and access important information in a secured way no matter where you might be in the world means being able to offer more flexible scheduling, remote work access, and even 24/7 support regardless of where your staff is when trouble at the office occurs. A traditional IT department would have to be on-site or readily available around the clock. When more of your internal systems are delegated to the cloud, this support comes by way of a dedicated team individuals that are always at the ready to lend a hand. Your IT department can typically remotely access systems which are locally located in order to resolve any minor issues as they happen. Meanwhile, critical systems are kept up and running without causing a strain on staffing levels. Who wants to have to be within driving distance of work during the holidays anyway?

As your company continues to grow, its needs evolve. This is a normal and expected part of business. Unfortunately, it can also be quite costly. Your IT resources will likely be among your most costly areas of internal support. You’ll need to invest in staffing, hardware, software, and training for your employees should they be using uncommon solutions such as a custom CRM or bookkeeping solution. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to come along in the past fifteen years has been the proliferation of cloud-based services. Not only are consumers taking advantage of these resources which greatly reduce the strain on local machines, but business as well are benefitting in a number of ways from the added security, accessibility, and budgetary advantages of offloading some processes to the cloud. Unfortunately, not every cloud hosting provider operates equally. Some cut corners where they really shouldn’t, and others might be slow to respond to issues. You need to search for a provider that is there when you need it and available to help your business regardless of the time of day. Here are four things to consider when choosing a cloud hosting service.

Cost

Let’s face it, every business has to operate at a profit. Even non-profit organizations have to keep their numbers out of the red as much as possible or face potentially having to shut down. With any company, big or small, you have to take costs into close consideration with any expenditure. The choice to forego local servers and infrastructure in favor of a leaner and more comprehensive cloud solution is often a very cost-efficient move. There are, however, some business out there that make a great deal of profit by inserting hidden fees and other unnecessary costs to what appears on paper to be a reasonable hosting plan. Pay close attention to what you’re paying for, and ask all the important questions of the sales representative before agreeing to a contract. While you generally get what you pay for, sometimes what you end up paying more for is runaround. At HarborCloud, we tailor pricing to meet the needs of an individual business. This helps customers avoid falling into the overpriced one-size-fits-all solution many providers push on their clients. You are able to ask and receive clear answers to each one of your questions form a live representative prior to making a commitment.

Flexibility

Let’s say you sign on with a provider only to discover that your original agreement isn’t enough to cover the needs of your business. Do you pay an arm and a leg for the next step up? Do you suffer through an inefficient solution today that was initially intended for your company as it existed yesterday? Flexibility means being able to add and remove users in minutes rather than days and reconfigure your service to meet your needs as and when they present themselves. Some businesses spend years at a plateau before suddenly growing twofold in a matter of weeks. It happens, and you should be penalized for experiencing growth. If you need to add or remove applications to an existing account, this shouldn’t be a difficult process. A single phone call is all it should take to get your company up and running with minimal setup or hassle required. Scalability is an essential benefit to moving your applications to the cloud, and your provider should be able to promise continued support regardless of your organization’s growth or usage.

Reliability

Does the hosting provider guarantee a certain amount of uptime? What does that provider do for you when it goes down for hours, or even days? HarborCloud promises 99.9% uptime to its customers, and that’s not a promise many cloud providers are willing to make. Your cloud-based applications should be available to you any time of any day throughout the year. If you need to log in and make adjustments at 12:01am on New Year’s Day, it should be there for you. Modern businesses don’t always run on the same schedule as their IT department, and you should expect the best from a service that focuses entirely on making your data available when and where you need it. Should something go wrong, a good cloud provider has trained IT professionals available around the clock to resolve any issue as it occurs. After all, this is why you opt to bring your applications to the cloud in the first place. You should have a hassle-free IT experience during any time, day or night.

Technology

Anyone can set up a server and claim to have a great cloud solution. The difference is in the technology these companies use to back their product. Do they stick to any standards or utilize and industry-leading platforms to make life easier for the customer? Do you have to jump through hoops just to sign in to your account and get to work? At HarborCloud, we’re proud to partner with Citrix to make XenApp 6.0 available to our customers. This is the most expensive solution a provider can use, and it’s coupled with some of the best HP Blade Servers you’ll find in any data center today. Not all providers offer the same platform, and you should expect quick and easy access to your applications from any workstation or system you need to. A comprehensive cloud solution means having excellent software and hardware available to you no matter how big or small your account might be. Cloud-based applications only work if they respond as quickly as locally hosted ones. The cloud should put your company at an advantage, and that can only happen of the company providing your service is willing to put in the work to do so.

As we head into one of the busiest seasons for freelance accountants, it’s increasingly vital that the data you manage be both secure and readily available. A solid cloud-based solution opens up a whole new world of usage scenarios giving you full access to your data on the road, at remote meetings, and back at the office without running the risk of data loss should unexpected damage, loss, or theft separate you from your primary system. If you work closely with QuickBooks, you can find a solid cloud hosted solution with HarborCloud that could save you money on system management and maintenance while keeping your data safer and more reliably accessible than it would be on a local system. Whether you’re an independent accountant working from home or a corporate employee crunching numbers at the office, there are plenty of compelling reasons to consider bringing your business applications to the cloud. We live in an age when working from home is not possible, but practical. Often, you can be called on to provide immediate answers to questions even when you’re not exactly at your desk. With a hosted solution, you can log in from virtually any Internet-capable system around the world and find the answers you need. There are two types of hosted solutions typically offered by providers. One type, known as a Shared Farm. This includes load-balanced servers set up to give you access to specific applications (such as QuickBooks) in addition to common plug-ins that extend the default usefulness of QuickBooks to meet the needs of your client(s). The second type is a bit more flexible. It’s known as a Dedicated Virtual Environment and it gives you the freedom of having a virtual Windows computing platform in the cloud from which you can run a variety of applications that help you get down to business. For most accountants, a shared solution works perfectly. It empowers you to use the very software that you need to get the job done at a predictable regular cost. However, some applications cannot be locked down or installed in a shared farm and have to be on their own dedicated server. Since most all applications are intended to be installed on a desktop computer, and not a public cloud (shared farm), you may actually need a dedicated virtual server.

Why Choose HarborCloud?

HarborCloud’s hosting service gives you the ability to run virtually any Windows-based application in a virtual environment that’s readily accessible to you around the clock. Running on Citrix XenApp 6.5 and the latest in server hardware, HarborCloud’s systems are capable of running at world-class speeds at a fraction of the cost of building and managing your own server. You can access your data from any PC, Mac, iPad, or Android mobile device with an Internet connection. In addition, a full staff of experienced IT professionals stands ready to address any issues that might come up. This is in addition to a philosophy of putting customer service at a top priority. Even if you’re part of a very small business, you can take advantage of Fortune 500 IT infrastructure and put it to work for you at pennies on the dollar. Your data is kept safe on several levels including: multiple password integration, Citrix reliability, 128 bit Encryptions, SSL certificate, all in a completely redundant data center on redundant servers. Perhaps the biggest reason for accountants to choose HarborCloud is that it has partnered with Citrix and Intuit to provide a world-class experience at bargain prices. You can host multiple versions of QuickBooks on a single account to meet the needs of a variety of customers, take advantage of commonly used applications like Microsoft Office 2010 or SmartVault, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having your important data safe from unforeseen loss or damage to your local systems. When it comes to your business, would you trust anything less?

The cloud is an endearing term for a technological philosophy that has redefined personal computing. Where it was once popular belief that we’d be running supercomputers in our home that far exceed the computing capacity of giant data centers – and this likely will happen anyway – the future right now appears to be heading to the cloud.

While some analysts might consider the push for cloud computing as a trend in the consumer world, it’s clear that the advantages off-site hosting brings to the commercial world far outweigh the cons. With this in mind, it’s clear that the cloud is here to stay.

The cloud is the ultimate multi-platform data storage and management device. You don’t have to worry about an OS X, Linux, or Windows version of the cloud. It typically works across all client platforms and is often even integrated on mobile devices. You can access the same data and basic feature set from an iPhone as you could on a Windows machine. This is a good thing, because it makes it easier to try new platforms without suffering the potential loss of compatibility.

Never before has Linux been more poised for consumer and business IT use than it is today. This makes it an excellent choice for companies wishing to extend the life of their aging hardware without sacrificing productivity.

Any platform with a browser can create documents on Google Docs, manage photos on Flickr, or send email on Gmail. You can even log in to virtual machines hosted in data centers halfway across the country with very little latency.

Even your company’s CRM can be hosted entirely independent of your local hardware and accessed from a variety of systems.

If your company uses QuickBooks to maintain financial records, it’s true potential can be unlocked by bringing it to the cloud and linking it to leading commercial solutions like SalesForce. In fact, doing this can extend the life of QuickBooks for a growing business and allow you to avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars on a more comprehensive off-the-shelf solution.

Now you’re no longer bound by workstations and the confines of a desk or cubicle. You – and your staff – can be productive in a multitude of areas, as well as while on the road. Being able to give your staff the flexibility they need to maintain critical work-life balance without sacrificing productivity can do wonders to enhance company loyalty and improve attendance.

Your company’s assets are also better secured with off-site backup and non-physical access. A fire or unexpected intrusion into your office shouldn’t put your data at risk. When everything is kept in a secured facility far away, these things are easier to manage and lock down.

Your IT staff’s time will be better spent, as well. Imagine all the effort which has been poured in to maintaining local storage servers and application hosting systems instead being focused towards innovating internal processes and keeping workstations in working order. The savings your company could have on staffing alone could make the transition worthwhile. Not mention, it’s a great deal for your IT department as it allows them to take a day off once in awhile without having to chain themselves to their laptop.

The cloud is perhaps the best thing to happen to productive technology in the past decade. It allows you to free yourself from the confines and dangers of local storage and enjoy reliable access from anywhere in the world.

Here at HarborCloud, we are proud to offer virtual application hosting through the industry-leading XenApp platform by Citrix. XenApp allows us to offer Local and Hosted Application Delivery to our customers to ensure that they receive the fastest and most reliable hosted application experience possible.

XenApp by Citrix is the fastest hosted application solution out there. This allows you to experience the same applications at low latency from any device. Need to access QuickBooks from your iPad? No problem. This is made possible by Citrix’s unique technology which detects the device you’re accessing these applications from and provides the best experience for that particular platform. If you’re launching Windows programs on a Mac, a virtual environment is made available to you so you can use the application as if you were sitting at the host machine back at the office.

Local Application Hosting enables you to take your experience offline so your work isn’t interrupted by dropped connections or travel. You can work from the plane and sync changes to specific documents once you get to your home or the hotel after you land.
XenApp does more than just host applications. It makes it easier to set specific options for various users. Your account may require a different user experience than your shipping manager. A good QuickBooks hosting plan will empower you to decide who has access to what information in your central account, and XenApp helps make that possible for our customers.

XenApp is also incredibly secure. This ensures that your most valuable data is accessible only to the people you want to have access without restricting them to a single workstation back at the office. Your accountant can log in to QuickBooks and answer a question over the phone without having to run to the office to retrieve the appropriate data. This makes your accountant happier, and helps you get the data you need when you need it regardless of time or place.

Costs are another advantage to hosted applications. No longer will your IT department need to install, upgrade, and maintain software on every single workstation individually. Instead, these applications can be hosted and managed from remote servers in a central location that’s constantly being monitored and maintained by an experienced team of IT professionals. Think of services, like those provided by HarborCloud, as an extension of your existing IT department.

Your critical data should not be restricted to access from one location during business hours. Modern businesses depend on flexibility and mobility to flourish. Platforms like Citrix XenApp make it possible for small and medium businesses of today to function like the Fortune 500 companies of tomorrow.

Making the decision to take your current QuickBooks applications to the cloud is becoming an increasingly popular trend among small and medium businesses looking forward to continual growth.

Instead of having QuickBooks hosted and maintained on a local server that is really only accessible from a specific location and/or by only a fraction of the personnel that really could use access to some of the data, the cloud allows you to provide secure access from virtually anywhere in the world. You don’t have to worry about the local server or maintaining systems yourself. Instead, you can pay small fee for both the service and the support provided by a team of experienced IT professionals around the clock.

HarborCloud proudly deploys Citrix XenApp 6.0 as its cloud platform in order to give users fast and reliable access to their hosted QuickBooks accounts from anywhere in the world. If your accountant is away on a trip, you can still give them immediate access to the data they need to finish payroll or rubber stamp the massive purchase order that came in after they left. It’s like having the infrastructure of a Fortune 500 company with the costs of a small mom-and-pop startup.

Migrating your data to the cloud is a fairly straightforward process. Just export the business data to your local (C:) drive and log in to your online account. From there, you’ll choose the backup file from your drive and upload it directly. We don’t recommend uploading from a remote server as this can cause a corruption in the data as it’s being transferred.

Once you’ve uploaded your QuickBooks data to your hosted application, you’re set. No more work on your local installation is required. In fact, we even run nightly backups for you so you don’t have to worry about losing data along the way. Just enter information as required and query away as much as you need.

Citrix XenApp makes security easy, too. 128-bit encryption is built right in from the moment you connect to the time you’re done working. SSL session encryption makes your sure data is secure point-to-point so your data is safeguarded from outside interference from would-be prying eyes.

In order to access your hosted QuickBooks, you need but to install a small Citrix client on your system and launch it. You can use QuickBooks as you did when it was running form your local machine. The only difference is your entire session is contained within a secure client rather than being stored locally on a machine at your office.