back to article 'Login infrastructure issue' blamed as sustained Xero outage threatens payrolls

Hundreds of thousands of small businesses are having trouble raising invoices and sorting out their monthly payroll following an outage at accounting software-as-a-service outfit Xero. The cloud-based software slinger, which boasts around 640,000 customers in the UK including accountants, bookkeepers and SMEs, has posted a …

  1. ColinPa Silver badge

    And while one contributor suggested that systems can't be up 100 per cent of the time

    Mainframes achieve 99.9+ %. You get what you pay for. I was never convinced that cloud had all the answers (but also mainframe does not have all the answers0.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: And while one contributor suggested that systems can't be up 100 per cent of the time

      "The cloud" is just someone else's computer.

      1. RM Myers
        Unhappy

        "The cloud" is just someone else's computer.

        Someone else's computer, and someone else's priority to fix any issues, but it's still the customer's problem when it all goes south.

    2. Mark 65

      Re: And while one contributor suggested that systems can't be up 100 per cent of the time

      It is ironic that quite a lot of the time it is accountants that push for a move to the cloud from an op-ex vs cap-ex perspective. Bitter-sweet.

  2. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    Bad idea to have 100% of your business running on one cloud

    Perhaps it's a bit much to expect accountants to add this up, but you could use two different clouds and only have half the impact of an outage twice as often, and still keep working on some clients.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad idea to have 100% of your business running on one cloud

      Unfortunately this completely impossible now, due to realtime VAT reporting and digital automatic filing of VAT & RTI/PAYE. You cannot use more than one accounting package, in the same way using two word processors to write the same document wouldn't make sense.

      1. Irongut

        Re: Bad idea to have 100% of your business running on one cloud

        What the OP suggested was not 1 busness using 2 accounting packages but multiple business spread over multiple accounts packages, for the accountants doing the books for more than one business.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: you could use two different clouds

      I used to know an accountant who ran two sets of books.

      Not sure whether he's still in prison...

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: you could use two different clouds

        Well played Ken, well played.

  3. Skiron
    Pirate

    Do I smell ransomware?

    1. Neil Spellings

      Their status page says it's *not* a security incident and related to infrastructure

      1. Skiron

        Well, thats what they all say in the beginning. Login issues is very suspicious.

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Quirk

    People should remember that according to HMRC they are solely responsible for their tax affairs, that is when you submit something late, you cannot blame it on "the cloud".

    It's also a display of Keynesian economics at its finest - create a tax system that is needlessly complex and expensive to comply with, so that a new sector of companies providing ways of dealing with that complexity can be created. In reality, this does not bring any value to the economy - quite the opposite.

    Companies instead of spending their hard earned money on accounting, could spend that on R&D or other things actually helping their business.

    Unfortunately rules also have to be complex, to keep the pleb in their lane. We can't have too many entrepreneurs.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

      "It's also a display of Keynesian economics at its finest..."

      ?!!

      You might need to look up what Keynesian is. Because it's not what you say it is. Although I guess it's getting it wrong with a touch more class than saying "socialist economics" or "Marxist economics".

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

        From the linked article:

        The revolutionary idea

        Keynes argued that inadequate overall demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment. An economy’s output of goods and services is the sum of four components: consumption, investment, government purchases, and net exports (the difference between what a country sells to and buys from foreign countries). Any increase in demand has to come from one of these four components. But during a recession, strong forces often dampen demand as spending goes down. For example, during economic downturns uncertainty often erodes consumer confidence, causing them to reduce their spending, especially on discretionary purchases like a house or a car. This reduction in spending by consumers can result in less investment spending by businesses, as firms respond to weakened demand for their products. This puts the task of increasing output on the shoulders of the government. According to Keynesian economics, state intervention is necessary to moderate the booms and busts in economic activity, otherwise known as the business cycle.

        You see, Keynes believed that supply and demand should be controlled by the government. Government can increase the demand for accounting services by increasing complexity of tax affairs.

        Then if you pair it with:

        "Big four accountancy firms donate £1.9m in services to political parties since 2009"

        You can get an idea why this is so broken.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

          Keynes believed that supply and demand should be controlled by the government.

          Not controlled, but moderated. Governments may need to tweak the environment to make it easier or harder for companies to balance supply & demand, that isn't the same as trying to control them with a "Five Year Plan".

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

            You seem to be trying to put words in my mouth and then cling to semantics to bring irrelevant topic (" "socialist economics" or "Marxist economics", "Five Year Plan").

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

          I'm not sure that what you described as Keynesian is what's implied in the bit you highlight. In any case when I was in business I regarded doing my own books as about as welcome as doing my own dentistry.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: You Keep Using That Word; I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

            I regarded doing my own books as about as welcome as doing my own dentistry.

            This is a fair point. There are people who won't even make a sandwich, despite the fact that you don't need to be trained and licensed to make one, you don't need to put sandwich components in a certain way nor use only approved condiments. That being said, these days you pretty much have to use an accountant if you don't want to put yourself in trouble.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Xero - aptly named, methinks

    "The cloud-based single point of failure software slinger"

    TFTFY

    What happened, are Excel spreadsheets not good enough any more ?

    You're a small business, do you really have that many invoices to file at the end of the month ?

    1. bbj

      Re: Xero - aptly named, methinks

      Nope paper + XLS are not good enough any more - because its mandated that almost regardless of size (currently VAT threshold of 85K) you have to "Make Tax Difficult" which means its almost a legal requirement to use some kind of web based cloud accountancy package to comply.

      Sorry, must have mistyped Make Tax Digital.

      Apparently an XLS is too likely to go wrong, compared to the full blown accountancy package where apparently its not possible to make any kind of errors.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: almost a legal requirement to use some kind of web based cloud accountancy package

        VT is still around and is still recommended by discerning Accountants.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Xero - aptly named, methinks

        HMRC knows exactly how shit using excel for everything is. Self Assessment is an abomination of excel and vba stored in a mainframe and accessed via a an ie6 only web browser.

        That's why you can't use it.

        Anon because today we got The Talk and I'd like to continue to have a job.

  6. AMBxx Silver badge

    I'm ok - thanks

    My locally installed, perpetually licenced copy of QuickBooks is working fine (if that's a word you can apply to QB).

  7. Nigel Titley
    Thumb Up

    Back up

    Seems to be back up. No word about what happened yet, though

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Good Enough

    Seems like it went from some users who were affected to no one can log in, login infrastructure issues are fixed fairly quickly, this is pointing more towards a cyber hack/attack, data breach.

  9. TVC

    Best use an in house system

    Maybe best to use an in house system. It will probably go down as often, for some reason, but at least you have someone ( your IT people) local to go and shout at or sack.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "When will it be fixed?"

    The most irritating question to ask someone who's still trying to work out what broke.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: "When will it be fixed?"

      "Are we there yet?"

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: "When will it be fixed?"

      "Please don't yell, I don't work well under pressure." -- Lazlo Hollyfeld, Real Genius (1985)

  11. Charles Smith

    It's reliable

    My small company has used Xero for several years now. It is usually reliable, so we're not going to squeal foul because of one outage. As for the VAT you have a whole month to prepare the VAT returns and submit payment to HMRC. If you leave this to the last moment you are asking for trouble. Anyone met Murphy with his JCB digging next to your data line?

    Xero does need to look at its major outage procedures and how customers are kept up to date. Lessons to be learned.

  12. fluffymitten

    Just one thing...

    My only gripe was that there was no indication on the log in page that there was an issue. So you get the message that your login details are incorrect and you wonder how and whether your account has been hacked. It would have been useful to have something on the log in page saying there's an issue, please click this link to the status page for more info.

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