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Public cloud in financial and HR management solution development – what, why and how?

What does public cloud mean?

Imagine if you could only access your work files from your workplace computer. Or if the thousands of pictures on your mobile device still need to be transferred to the computer along the way. Many people use services in the cloud constantly in their everyday lives - for example to store pictures and files. Public cloud is the same thing on a slightly larger scale: public cloud enables companies to have the same flexibility, agility and quick response as cloud services for consumers who use them.

A public cloud is an entity where, for example, an organisation’s own services, applications, information systems and development tools are located in a communication network.

The word "public" is associated with services because the providers of public cloud services are large global players that offer their services openly to everyone. In practice, the cloud service is therefore openly available to willing customer companies around the world – the contents and information of the service’s customers there, on the other hand, are not.

What public cloud does Accountor use?

We always try to find the best possible solutions for our use in terms of data security, usability and agility. In practice, this often means implementing the public cloud.

In our solution development, we use the solutions of all the three largest cloud service providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Cloud services are partially used in Accountor's solutions already, and the implementation will be gradually expanded. The transition to public cloud will be implemented in stages, and we will always inform customers about the transfer of data to cloud services in accordance with the contract terms.

Currently, for example, our software for payroll, HR management and workforce management runs in domestic data centre operators’ premises, but many of the solutions’ value-added services already use the public cloud. We are currently piloting, among other things, an artificial intelligence (AI) -based tool that helps and speeds up the work of our developers and thus helps to yield the results of our development work to our customers faster than before.

Why public cloud?

Cloud services are often prioritised, for example, in public service procurements, as they enable easy access and use, flexible capacity and offer the opportunity to utilize a highly protected IT infrastructure. In Finland, the public sector, for example the Tax Administration, uses cloud services and has taken many of its services to the cloud to improve user experience and flexibility.

With the help of public cloud, we can develop our solutions in a scalable way and manage our customers’ data with a high level of information security. In practice, scalability means that we can accelerate the development of our solutions and ensure the continuity of our solutions even better.

Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all large, global players offering public cloud services. Big players have extensive resources to ensure that the quality of the services always remains at a high level. At the same time, the incentives for, for example, the development of AI and information security solutions are bigger than for individual operators. Huge amounts of data can be processed in the most efficient way possible, when using high-quality features developed by the world's largest players.

Companies that offer public cloud services constantly have to respond to the authorities’ and customers’ growing information security requirements and are able to invest in security more than individual operators. Global public cloud providers comprehensively comply with various information security standards and have acquired certificates to verify the high level of information security of their operations.

Transferring services to the public cloud also supports the green transition, as each individual operator does not need to unnecessarily reserve data capacity for the future.

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How do Accountor's customers benefit of the public cloud?

With the help of public cloud services, we can produce new solutions and features for our customers faster, more efficiently and with fewer resources.

With public cloud, capacity can be increased or decreased easily, and new services can be made available to our customers more easily in projects, without involving experts in development work. In addition, as our customer, you don't have to commit your IT resources to the implementation of a new solution or feature, or take care of maintenance or configuration.

The scalability of the public cloud is visible in the agility, efficiency and ease of deployment of the services. You can easily purchase solutions from a comprehensive product family either individually or as large entities, as you wish.

How do we ensure information security in public cloud?

Information security is part of the core business of companies offering public cloud services. For example, the fact that major data breaches presented in the media are almost always related to data processed in companies’ own data centres, not data in the public cloud, says something about public cloud’s high level of data security.

Despite this, the level of public cloud information security raises many questions about data access rights and the requirements set by data protection authorities for international data transfers. Part of the concern is caused by the slightly misleading name of the public cloud. The main concern is the extensive rights to information of the authorities of third countries, such as the United States. There is currently an ongoing discussion about how the practices in the US meet the requirements set by the EU for the processing of personal data.

At Accountor, we have ensured the information security and the required level of data protection of the used cloud services on many different levels. The service provider’s access to data in cloud services is typically limited to maintenance and support situations only. Even in these situations, the available information is minimised. In addition to the implemented technical protection measures, the service providers have committed themselves to contractual protection measures in accordance with the requirements of the data protection authorities, for example by signing the European Commission's so-called standard contractual clauses.

At Accountor, we select all our partners carefully and diligently assess the level of information security and data protection of the services they offer. We actively follow the discussion related to international data transfers and the development of official requirements, and we take them into account in our operations. We take care and are always responsible for the security of our services and the data processed in them.