Monday, April 27, 2015

When Your Service Provider Can Sink Your Business

This is an amazing (and sad) story -- a mid-sized business relies on its web hosting service provider for its web site. Typical, really. But they were also utilizing the hosting service for their entire back-office data -- CRM, accounting, payroll, and more.

Without an understanding of the ramifications -- perhaps lacking even a systems administrator, let alone a CIO -- the company was processing and storing all its data on its website. One day, a developer was optimizing the database and removing records that the business no longer needed (so he thought). But a single, poorly formed delete query wiped out the database table. This minor error in a SQL command deleted the sum of the company's data; the company was rocked to the core. In a few months, they went belly-up.

Lesson: choose a proper SAAS provider that can handle your data properly. Know what you want, what you are getting into, and what happens to your data.

Read more here... Death by Delete

Spreading Life with Drones

While not as good as sowing seeds for trees the old fashion way, a former NASA engineer wants to increase the planet's forest canopy by deploying seedlings via drone. Using off-the-shelf technology, he suggests drones that first fly above an area and report on its potential for restoration. IF appropriate, the quadracopters would take up a position 10-15 feet above the ground and deploy pods containing seeds that are pre-germinated and covered in a nutritious hydrogel.

BioCarbon Engineering would plant germinated seeds using precision agriculture techniques. Their scalable, automated technology significantly reduces the manpower requirements -- thus, costs. Finally, mapping from the company's unmanned aerial vehicles will provide invaluable intelligence on planting patterns, landscape design and other factors.

Read more here....

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Good News, Everybody! (well, bean-counters) SAAS is Deductible!

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released an accounting standards update, which covers the fees paid for cloud computing. This is part of FASB's simplification initiative aimed at eliminating unnecessary complexity in accounting standards. In the first update, “Accounting Standards Update No. 2015-05—Intangibles—Goodwill and Other—Internal-Use Software (Subtopic 350-40): Customer’s Accounting for Fees Paid in a Cloud Computing Arrangement,” FASB noted that existing GAAP does not include explicit guidance about a customer’s accounting for fees paid in a cloud computing arrangement. These can include software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service, and other similar hosting arrangements. FASB said it heard from stakeholders that the absence of explicit guidance resulted in some diversity in practice, along with unnecessary costs and complexity, in evaluating the accounting for those fees.

The guidance already exists in the FASB Accounting Standards Codification, but it's included in a subtopic applied by cloud service providers to determine whether an arrangement includes the sale or license of software. The amendments in the latest update provide guidance to customers about whether a cloud computing arrangement includes a software license.

If a cloud computing arrangement includes a software license, then FASB said the customer should account for the software license element of the arrangement consistent with the acquisition of other software licenses. If a cloud computing arrangement does not include a software license, the customer should account for the arrangement as a service contract. The guidance will not change generally accepted accounting practices GAAP for a customer’s accounting for service contracts.

Read more at... Accounting Today!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ask Your Developer: Is this a Web or Cloud App?

When a customer asks, should we go Cloud vs Web, my response is frequently, what's the difference? Then, I try to illuminate with the following. These days cloud applications are all the rage… but what’s the difference between a cloud app and a web app, if they both run in your browser? And are mobile apps cloud-only? Confused? Don’t be. Here’s a quick primer on the differences (and similarities).

Let’s start with web applications — software accessed over a network such as the internet or an intranet via a web browser such as Safari or Chrome. Such tools are built with= a browser-based language (e.g. JavaScript), displayed with HTML and accessed with a common web browser. In web apps, the software as well as the database resides on a central server. This saves software developers from building and maintaining multiple client versions for a specific operating systems.

Cloud apps are hosted by cloud providers (Amazon, Google, others) and are accessed over the Internet. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider owns the software while the customers “rent the app” in a pay per use model. As web apps, they are used through a web browser so nothing needs to be installed locally. Cloud apps are generally architected to support multi-tenancy — enabling multiple customers (tenants) to be aggregated into the same application). Pricing is based on actual usage or per-user.

They seem similar, don’t they? Both types of apps are stored on a server and delivered through a browser interface over the internet. Cloud apps should have high availability (through mirrored installations in multiple locations) as a feature, while many web apps are limited in ability to support a fixed number of users. Cloud apps may offer extra security and integration with other systems via web services. Administrators of cloud apps can easily configure workload and traffic patterns in order to utilize the exact amount of infrastructure offered. Web applications are usually developed for a given platform, limiting scalability.

Mobile apps that access the same back-end over the internet would be considered cloud apps if the architecture and supporting infrastructure are cloud-based.