On Friday the 13th, I attended the Frazier and Deeter 2013 Year End Accounting and Tax Update in Atlanta. The room was packed with CPAs yearning to further their knowledge of the latest developments in cloud-hosted financial accounting systems. Not too many people are interested in risk and compliance related to accounting and virtual computing. The attendees at this session ASKED for a 100-minute presentation on the subject. They got that and much more.
I witnessed a fascinating delivery by David Kidd, the director of quality assurance from Peak 10. As Mr. Kidd was giving a history of the cloud, he began his rendition of the musical stylings of ‘dial-up internet sounds.’ That was when the crowd realized that they were in for a treat.
The presentation started with a dive into the basics of cloud computing, moving into the compliance challenges associated with shared resources and then finishing with the benefits and reasons for organizations to trust in this service.
Mr. Kidd described the cloud as being “old technology that new technology has improved upon.” It was fascinating the way he compared the 1960’s mainframe computers to today’s virtualized cloud computing: shared, centralized resources that many can access. Both had similar problems with adoption. According to Mr. Kidd, their biggest barrier to early success was that they were “misunderstood new technology.”
How does one overcome such a misunderstanding? Well, you stage a role-playing exercise of course! Mr. Kidd appointed a king and treasurer from the audience to demonstrate how we ensure the security of resources (gold was the example used). The exercise demonstrated that the basic safeguarding practices that we put in place for securing any kind of resource is essentially the same ─ and that includes securing the cloud to protect sensitive financial information.
The exercise really brought home the main ideas of the presentation for me. The cloud is a cost-effective, secure option for companies that handle sensitive information. There is no need to fear it just because we do not understand it. Our data is important to us. As we do for other important resources, we put measures in place to protect data. We set standards for operating the systems that touch it. And we even put in place metaphorical guards to ensure the safety of these assets.