The benefits of using a cloud network, custom-built to support the unique technology needs of the accounting industry are numerous. That being said, moving to the cloud is a huge step for many firms. The unique technology needs of the accounting industry can complicate the migration of a CPA firm into the cloud for many technology providers. Some providers simply have not thought through or experienced supporting or building a cloud environment specifically for an accounting firm. One of the areas where complications can arise and productivity can be lost involves the actual connection to the cloud. Simply building a high-quality cloud in a data center is not enough to ensure that firms are able to leverage that cloud to make their users more productive and their business more successful. Through years of supporting the accounting industry, we believe that a dual approach that involves connecting both users and offices to the cloud allows a firm to properly take advantage of cloud technology.
Connecting individual users to the cloud is fairly straightforward. A more detailed discussion about the pros and cons of different methods used to connect users can be found here. In short, Citrix Xenapp provides a robust feature set that enhances security, streamlines connectivity, and simplifies user access. While Xenapp access is integral to connecting users to the cloud, it does not address all of the complexities of connecting an office to the cloud. Accounting firms are often dependent on their ability to print and scan documents. While the Citrix receiver does help in that area, we have found that it is not usually, in itself, a complete solution.
To ensure logical and efficient interaction between offices and the cloud, Xcentric has developed a series of software solutions that are combined into a single hardware device called the Xcentric Cloud Appliance. The Cloud Appliance performs several different roles to support users in an Xcentric environment. One of its primary roles is to improve and simplify interaction between office-based devices and the cloud.
Some states have specific laws that require all data in motion to be encrypted. To satisfy that legal requirement and stay ahead of the industry in states that don’t yet have laws requiring encryption, all data transferred to and from the Xcentric cloud is encrypted. While most of this traffic is handled by the encrypted Citrix Xenapp pathway, not all methods of scanning that CPAs commonly employ utilize the Citrix pathway. To maintain encryption and minimize changes in workflow that rob users of productivity, the Xcentric Cloud Appliance is equipped to transfer documents through an encrypted pathway from scanners in the local office to The Xcentric Cloud. This single feature greatly improves both the security of data and the end users’ experience.
While the trend towards paperless offices continues, many CPA firms are still dependent on the ability to print documents. Another important role that the Cloud Appliance plays involves initiating the connection between workstations and network printers in the office. We have found this configuration to be the most effective way to reduce printing issues and ensure a reliable connection between printers, workstations, and the Xcentric Cloud.
Years of supporting accounting users in the Xcentric Cloud is the driving force behind the Xcentric Cloud Appliance. Put simply, it’s an important part of the strategy that Xcentric employs to provide cloud access to accounting firms that meets the unique needs of their businesses. It’s extremely important to ensure that your cloud partner has a game plan in place to securely connect every aspect of the CPA workflow to the cloud.