Well, it's official - QuickBooks Online has passed 100,000 users (see link to press release here). If you haven't looked at the service, you can learn more about it at www.qboe.com. While there were a flurry of people setting up data centers 7-8 years ago to run hosted Great Plains and other apps, QBOE passing this milestone shows that the Application Service Provider (ASP) concept is playing well on main street.
As I look at the issues people have with running applications on their PC's, I think more people should look into hosted applications like QuickBooks Online (QBOE), the Thomson Virtual Office CS Suite of hosted applications, and CCH's Global fx. I don't know about you all, but I'm finding that my internet connection is more reliable than my cell phone (even the cellular internet connection I have is better than the voice coverage I have). Less infrastructure, less maintenance, accessible from anywhere, immediate online backup - and you just pay a monthly fee. It's definitely something to look at for the future.
Another interesting phenomona is that users can work from anywhere - whether it's the bonus room or Hyperabad - so if your star senior associate is married to a Peace Corps member and is moving to somewhere with a good internet connection, they can do tax returns from Malaysia. While it's not as good as having them locally, it's better than losing them forever. Also, sick kids don't put young paremts out of business for the day - they can just go home, and during the kids' nap, work on some returns (although I know this is hard -my five year old wears me out).
Look at some of these sites - and test them out if the ASP concept appeal sto you. It might be one of the last times your tech guy has to come out to make your applications work together.