Australian accounting software firm MYOB has gone with Microsoft’s Azure platform for its AccountRight Live cloud-based accounting offering.
According to MYOB chief technical officer Simon Raik-Allen, Azure was chosen because customers wanted an industrial-strength cloud host.
“They wanted a trusted partner to look after their data,” he said. “Someone who is big and experienced looking after their information.”
MYOB’s cloud offering, which becomes available on November 8, is a hybrid software solution. Clients can use their existing software on the desktop, with cloud storage and syncing an option offered on top.
“The software is still the same desktop software, but in the cloud is the algorithms and business logic,” said Raik-Allen. “The UI is acting like a browser, calling back-end web services.
“If that is not for you, and you are not connected all the time, or feel more comortable on desktop the algorithms and business logic are also stored locally."
When working online/in the cloud with AccountRight Live each change is saved in real-time as it is with browser-based solutions. The changes made in the online file are pushed down to the local file and saved automatically every 20 minutes, and on demand any time the client wants. Customers are also able to check out their data if they go offline, and then have the data synchronised when they reconnect.
MYOB is also touting the collaborative and real-time nature of the cloud software. Accountants and business advisors can check their customer’s data in real time, rather than waiting for a single dump of information at the end of the financial year.
“If you’re an accountant, you can check your client’s cashflow, do the modelling and so on whenever you choose to,” said Raik-Allen.
“An accountant might notice there’s going to be a cash-flow crunch, for example, in the next few weeks and then get on the phone to talk to the client about how they might avoid this.
“It really changes the relationship between the customer and the business advisor."
Workers in the field can also upload quotes and job descriptions in real time to a head office, he said, rather than waiting to submit paperwork at the end of the day.
The company is heavily promoting the offline ability of the software because many MYOB customers are in rural and remote areas with marginal bandwidth.
“If you’re working in an area where bandwidth is an issue, you can work all day and then connect once and sync all your data,” he said.
Although the cloud offering is set to become available early next month, several key pieces have yet to be put in place. In particular, third party APIs and availability on common mobile platforms such as the iPad won’t be offered until 2013.
Existing customers with an MYOB maintenance contract will receive the cloud upgrade free. New customers can opt in from $23 per month for the base product.