Dipping Your Toes into the World of Cloud Computing

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The world has radically changed since March. Many employees have worked in a cubicle for years, faithfully showing up at 7:30 and leaving at 4:30 every day. In three months, that all changed with COVID-19 when many companies said, “let’s try to have you work remotely”. Dining rooms and kitchen tables became home offices and, secondary monitors were purchased so you could create the best copy of your old work environment.
This scenario was similar for many of our Express Information Systems clients. They have used Microsoft Dynamics GP for many years, which is an on-premise software. But, because of this new “work at home’ environment, they need help to set up either Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections to allow their employees to access GP from home.
Making the Move
As Microsoft Gold Partners, we have deep expertise in the nuances of cloud computing. What that means is that we have moved their Dynamics GP database and software into our Azure cloud environment and provided them an app that they use to access it. For these clients, it was very simple to allow their accounting department to work from home because the only thing their IT department had to do was provide the app for download on their home computer.
Several of our clients have experienced performance improvement, primarily in the speed of their Dynamics GP software, because we use multiple cloud servers and so they no longer experience the “lag processing” that they experienced when it was on their own, typically older, machines.
But, it wasn’t so easy for everyone. The main challenges they have encountered thus far include:

Inability to Print
Competition for IT Resources
Increased Need for Collaboration Technology/Tools

Embrace the Technology
The second benefit of cloud computing is the ease of which we can provide backup capabilities. When Dynamics GP is loaded on local servers, it is the responsibility of their local IT resources to do backups. However, Dynamics GP has some complexity in how you backup its SQL database.  We have had clients that have tried to do a “restore” from a backup only to find that backup copy is corrupted or incomplete.  In a recent case, it was IT’s responsibility to backup the Dynamics GP database daily to a separate laptop. Unfortunately, he was really busy and failed to back up the system. The client had a server crash and when we dug into it with them, we found out that the backup copy he had was 4 weeks old… so, now their accounting team was required to re-key a months’ worth of data… Ouch.
Concerning printing, it required conversations with leadership about how they want the workflow in the accounting department to work.  Some clients have yet to use lockbox services by their banks, so they have had to have employees still go check the mail to get checks and then forward those on to their bank. Several clients were still hand-signing checks, and that has been really challenging. But, most have made the move to embrace “digital approvals” and are now using ACH transfers to pay their bills.
Let’s Collaborate
Lastly, we have seen a marked increase in the interest around collaboration tools that our clients already have included with their Microsoft Office 365 licenses, most significantly, SharePoint for document collaboration and Teams for video chats. Teams went from 26 million users worldwide to over 40 million users in the last 3 months.
In conclusion, for our clients that have moved their Dynamics GP to the cloud, they tell us they are never bringing it back to an on-premise environment. For those clients that don’t see value in leveraging the cloud, we are continuing to support their on-premise environments. We enjoy having conversations with both clients and prospects to educate them on their options and help them to “dip their toes” in the water to the extent they are comfortable.
Are you ready to take a dip into the World of Cloud Computing? Connect with Express…

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