Reckon, the Australian distributor of popular accounting software QuickBooks, has decided upon a hosting model for its cloud solution rather than creating web applications.
Reckon was in the process of moving all its desktop and server software into the cloud by controlling it remotely with Citrix software. QuickBooks, its flagship for the SMB market, was available as QuickBooks Hosted and its practice management software APS, has been branded as APS Private Cloud.
Instead of accessing the software through a browser in the same manner as popular cloud applications Xero and Saasu, QuickBooks Hosted users viewed the program running in Reckon’s Australian data centres with a Citrix application on their desktop, laptop or tablet.
Several reasons lay behind the decision to stream the desktop software from remote data centres rather than creating web versions from scratch, said Gavin Dixon, Reckon Business CEO, in an interview on Reckon’s cloud plans. An in-depth account will appear on Monday on BoxFreeIT. “What we have tried to do is provide really deep functionality, fully integrated, in the cloud,” Dixon said.
QuickBooks Hosted used the top-of-the-line Enterprise version which included payroll, multi-currency and inventory. It had detailed security settings that limited junior users to certain areas of the program and was far more advanced than products sold by web-based competitors. “One of the things you see with current cloud providers is that they start off pretty simple and they get more sophisticated,” Dixon said.
Intuit, the US owner of QuickBooks, had released a web application in the US and Canada called QuickBooks Online, but this also was limited in features, Dixon said. QuickBooks Online is “like Xero and the other guys. It does what it does, it’s not that sophisticated.”
Dixon also said he had reservations about an “ecosystem” approach where cloud accounting vendors used a number of third-party software vendors to provide extra features to a core accounting platform. “The strategy of having lots of third parties in reality is really expensive because every third party has a fee and its own databases and they don’t integrate that well,” Dixon said.
“There are some real challenges with these multi-vendor solutions around data integrity and integration. And there are issues around user interfaces – every one of them has been designed by a different company. I think the early adopters are enthusiastic to be off an on-premise solution but I don’t think, when they calm down, that they think it’s really the best.”
Dixon also said QuickBooks Hosted, which cost $30 per user per month for an unlimited number of companies, was up to one-half to two-thirds the price of Xero and Saasu once the cost of third-party applications were added to meet the same functionality.
It was easier to lose work on web applications because a user could accidentally shut the browser, Dixon added. “If you go into Xero or MYOB Live (Accounts), do half an invoice and then jump to somewhere else and see what happens. (The invoice) just goes (without being saved). And I think that’s not a great user experience,” Dixon said.
“We wanted to bring to customers a well-controlled, robust user interface that would be more familiar to them.”