QuickBooks Hosting Primer by Murph
We share with you answers to specific questions from multiple QuickBooks Hosting companies in a downloadable document at the end of this article.
I received an email from a friend who runs a small manufacturing company that is currently using QuickBooks Enterprise (Desktop), but is considering moving to a hosted version. He was trying to get a better understanding of performance variables he needed to consider as part of the overall decision making process. I assured him that I knew just the person to answer his question, Murph.
The funny thing is, I’ve wanted to publish an article on Hosting for several weeks now, but just have not made it happen. Now, with Murph’s response, I have most of what I need as you will see below. We have also developed a chart which is at the end of the article that has some Q&A with some of the vendors which can be downloaded from our Sharefile account.
The original question that was posed was: “We use Quickbooks Enterprise here at the office. The gang was bouncing around the idea of moving to Intuit cloud services with their QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions Hosting Service. Do you guys ever get feedback from people using the hosted service? In particular, do you ever hear performance complaints?”
Murph’s response (with some editing):
First, let me clarify that Intuit doesn’t actually have a ‘hosting service’, but they do certify hosting companies for QuickBooks. The QuickBooks On-line product is an entirely different ‘cloud based’ form of QuickBooks that is not the same (and in no way identical in features) to the desktop products, and should not be confused with ‘hosted QuickBooks’.
Approved Hosting companies (and many who have not sought Intuit approval) offer what is really a form of Windows Terminal Server functionality for lease. Some companies will lease you only sufficient dedicated space on a bank of servers to host your own copy of QuickBooks and your Company files. The problem stems when they attempt to pack too many users on the same server, and over load their functional capabilities. I hear a lot of complaints about a wide variety of providers who do this at the ‘entry service level’.
Many of these companies also offer ‘dedicated virtual servers’, and ‘dedicated servers’. Rather than you sharing simply ‘controlled access’ on a server to your ‘programs and data’, you access a dedicated virtual server that hosts only your programs and data, because these dedicated virtual machines are contracted to a specific size, you are more apt to have better initial performance than with the entry level ‘program/data hosting only’ model….but as you continue to grow, unless you renegotiate your contract for an expanded virtual server, then you experience the same problems you have on your own PC when it gets too much data for the resources at hand.
Some of the hosting companies will also offer ‘dedicated physical servers’. This is exactly like you having you own server sitting in your office, except the host maintains it for you. Obviously this is going to be the most costly of the offerings since the cost of a machine is ‘the cost of a machine’. But, since their technical staff is supporting their entire organization you should really have less operating costs than if you were doing it yourself.
Only approved (HEY MURPH, BASED ON WHAT THE WEBSITE SAYS IT’S ONLY COMMERCIAL HOSTS WHO CAN DO THIS, CORRECT?) hosting companies can offer you ‘monthly contracts’ which include the cost of QuickBooks licensing. Otherwise you purchase your own QB license and then provide that license number to your hosting company. Approved hosts can give you a package that includes an amortized cost of the annual license on a month-to-month basis, this is by special arrangement with Intuit, and as I said comes only with certified hosting status.
Many hosting companies can host some of your other applications, especially those that tend to connect to QB such as Excel or Word; some will also host specialized 3rd-party products that integrate with QB; however, some of the companies don’t’ want to deal with this unless you are contracting for a dedicated virtual server or dedicated server.
Lastly I will mention that ‘bandwidth’ is a major sore spot with almost all of these companies at one time or another. They tend to increase bandwidth for access as users increase, and some delays can be experienced since they are attempting to judge the additions needed based upon measured demands. This can mean that you experience delays in log-in, and slow response times. Since most people are comparing this to their ‘internal network speeds’ they had before moving to ‘hosted’, they cannot get a true picture since the average Local Area Network is 20 to 40 times faster than the Internet in most areas (unless you have a dedicated fiber connection to a local IPN). Hosting tends to be slightly slower at its best, and significantly slower at its worst from an internet connection to your own ‘in-office’ Terminal Server (although again local internet speed can greatly impact this).
Any host can experience some ‘down time’, even Intuit experiences down-time with their on-line products from time to time. You hope that they have ample back-up and redundant resources to preclude the frequency of such occasions, but still they are just as possible as they would be if you were hosting your own Enterprise Classed Terminal Server.