15 February 2017
Act! software. Check!
QuoteWerks. Check!
Quickbooks. Check!
Handheld Contact. Check!

On Friday afternoon our CTO walked into my office and reported our upload speeds were down to dial-up rates, and he'd have to reboot the office router. It was 5PM, so I didn't hesitate to authorize it, but then one of our remote employees messaged me reporting the Internet outages going on across North America, with a heavy concentration in the North East - precisely where we're at.

It seemed amazing to me that we can have three offices in full production all day long and remain unaware of this continental service outage, but then I was reminded we use mostly on-premise software. Our CRM software is, of course, Act!; our accounting system is QuickBooks Enterprise (desktop edition); our quoting software is QuoteWerks; and even our mobility software is Handheld Contact, which only needs the Internet to update, not work.

All continued to operate fine throughout the day.

SaaS software, indeed, has many advantages for centralizing business operations and for ease of deployment & maintenance, but we must never forget their one glaring vulnerability... they require the Internet to work. A disruption in Internet service doesn't just impair their use, it stops them outright, and that's why people should always consider a blend of on-premise and online applications for their business.

The Internet is not a utility, as much as many would like to think of it as such. Internet access is vulnerable to local network frailties (routers, switches, cables, and NICS), and remote issues such as infrastructure breakdowns and, as we saw on Friday, deliberate hacking sabotage.

Closer to home, this incident reminded me of a service disruption we suffered in August of last year. Despite our office being connected with a dedicated fiber optic service, a construction crew working in a city 20-minutes north of us, had managed to cut through one of Allstream's major fiber network lines, and took us down for 28-hours.

Not fun, but thankfully not fatal either, as QuickBooks, Quotewerks, and Act! were unaffected, and available to all staff in our head office during the outage. We were able to plug a 3G USB stick into my laptop, and maintain a minimum level of connectivity during the outage for email purposes, but we otherwise remain operational. When service was later restored, all remote users synced their data and were back running as if it never happened.

The same could not have been said if we used SaaS resources or relied completely on a cloud infrastructure. During such an outage, no one in our office would have had access to our customer records, our accounting, our quotes, and even our mobile data. Our business, for all intents & purposes, would have been completely off the grid.

So when you consider which applications are best for your business, consider products & services like Act! that are available both on-premise and online. Not only will you enjoy day to day faster performance & flexibility of access, you'll be less vulnerability to chance.


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