Chances are good that if you've shopped around at all for QuickBooks hosting that you've had someone tell you that they're an Intuit-Authorized QuickBooks Host. Being Intuit-Authorized sounds great and the logo looks official, but what does it really mean?
First let me give you a little background. There have been companies offering QuickBooks hosting for over 10 years now, but the Intuit-Authorized hosting program is actually only a few years old. The reason that it took so long to create an authorized host program is that Intuits' vision for the future is their QuickBooks Online offering and not their desktop software. While this is a great goal, the problem with this plan is that their QuickBooks Online software is still very limited and does not yet have the same features and functionality as they're Pro, Premier and Enterprise desktop versions.
That's where the QuickBooks hosts come in. We provide cloud access to the QuickBooks desktop software (Pro, Premier, & Enterprise) as well as their other business applications and files. About 4 years ago Intuit took a closer look at the hosting market, understanding the need for it and recognizing the benefits of hosting their desktop software while they continue to advance their QB Online solution. Some of the benefits include:
- Reliable and secure anytime, anywhere access to QuickBooks
- Business continuity/disaster recovery
- Connecting users in multiple locations
- Automated off-site backup
- Savings on IT costs
In addition, Intuit realized that they needed a better handle on licensing compliance within the hosting marketing and assurance that companies hosting their product were using industry standards and best practices.
A beta version of the program was launched for the first year and only three hosts were allowed to participate. Swizznet was not one of the beta-testers, but we understood the value to our customers of partnering more closely with Intuit and had been in touch with them well before the program was ever developed. Once the program was formalized and launched we were one of the first to apply.
Here's a little more info on what's involved in the application process:
- Providers must complete an intensive Request for Information (RFI) and submit it to Intuit for initial review.
- From there, if invited by Intuit to participate, applications must pay $3k to begin the process of becoming accredited with the Managed Service Provider (MSP) Alliance. The MSP Alliance is an independent third-party testing organization that is not affiliated with Intuit. This is a rigorous process that assesses customer service, support, company financials and solvency as well as security and the overall technology backbone and architecture.
- For those that complete the accreditation process, Intuit will then move forward with entering into a Commercial Host Agreement with them. At this time, the hosts are required to pay a $15k initiation fee as well as a $5/month/user fee.
As part of the hosting program Intuit requires that all hosts:
- Have a SAS-70 Type-II certified Tier 1 data center, located in the United States, with all hosting infrastructure and processes accredited by MSP Alliance
- Enter into a commercial hosting agreement with Intuit
- All hosts must provide monthly reporting and pay an annual renewal fee of $5k.
- Enter into direct agreement a with the host to ensure they are in compliance with the QuickBooks EULA
- Provide all QuickBooks users with easy access to their QuickBooks license info
- Ensure that each QuickBooks user access is only able to access that they own or are renting a license for
As this customer you can take comfort in knowing that an Intuit-Authorized host, like Swizznet, has been thoroughly vetted by Intuit and the MSP Alliance and that they are in compliance with Intuit. As an added bonuses, all Authorized-Hosts are able to rent QuickBooks licenses on a monthly basis for those customer who do not already own a license. The rental program is month-to-month and includes automatic upgrades as each new version is released.
At last check there are 16 Intuit-Authorized Hosts to choose from. If you'd like more info on the program, you can read about it on Intuit's site.