Steve Johnson, Negosentro | Enterprise use of cloud services is well established. Advancements in cloud technology have made off-premises solutions ubiquitous — 85 percent of IT leaders asked said they’re now employing a multi-cloud strategy.
But what about SMBs? Often, cloud is a question mark for these companies. While consumers demand enterprise-like service and speed, small organizations often see the cloud as “too expensive” or “too complex” for their needs. In fact, there are compelling use cases for cloud as the foundational SMB tech solution.
Both SMBs and enterprises have historically sidestepped the cloud because of security — common wisdom held that keeping data close to home on local servers limited the chance of information theft or compromise. Ten years ago IT pros weren’t far off the mark, but the rapid growth of large-scale public clouds and niche cloud providers has changed the off-site computing landscape. Now, cloud solutions are often more secure than on-premises defenses since the reputation and market value of cloud security companies depends on robust and reliable solutions.
Consider the case of zero-day threats and emerging malware attacks: Traditional IT thinking has local admins responsible for finding and installing new security updates, along with ensuring that system downtime is kept to a minimum. Leveraging cloud security services, meanwhile, ensures that relevant updates are applied automatically and with minimal system impact.
How much bandwidth does an SMB really need? Cloud opponents see local stacks as good enough, especially if they’re provisioned with extra room to scale up on demand. The problem? Hardware costs money — from initial purchase to maintenance and end-of-life handling. In addition, when extra resources aren’t being used, they’re still costing your company.
Cloud services, meanwhile, offer flexible bandwidth to meet your needs without the requirement to buy and maintain hardware. This allows SMBs to quickly scale up on demand, then return to baseline resources — or even decrease ongoing requirements — all without wasting time and money. The result? Applications and services aren’t limited by local computing power, and the end-user experience doesn’t depend on in-house hardware.
Cost is always a concern for SMBs. What will new technology cost upfront, and how much will it cost over time? Cloud computing is often positioned as the more cost-effective alternative to purchasing and maintaining in-house hardware because there are no largeup-front capital costs — perfect for SMBs. While true, there’s more to the savings story than meets the eye. For example, it’s worth noting that the cost of cloud technology persists over time, since SMBs must continue to pay for service and resources month after month. The ROI of cloud computing, however, stems from multiple sources including:
- More Time — Instead of constantly managing resources and servers, IT professionals can turn their attention to line-of-business strategies and innovative projects that serve SMBs over the long term.
- More Space — Servers take up significant office space, consume large amounts of power and require regular maintenance to ensure peak performance. Shifting servers off-site creates more space for SMB operations while reducing total overhead. As noted by CIO, 80 percent of businesses asked said they used the cloud for Web hosting and 78 percent for email — tasks that often fell to in-house servers.
- More Confidence — Many SMBs can’t afford full-time, in-house IT staff. Opting for the cloud lets small businesses tap the benefit of IT oversight and experience without the costs associated with hiring FTE technology experts.
Shining a Light
The app- and mobile-driven technology landscape has prompted significant end-user shifts. Most worrisome for SMBs is well-meaning staff who leverage mobile technology to download insecure or unapproved apps and put company data at risk. Cloud solutions can help solve this problem with the dual benefit of granular control and complete access — admins can scale access privileges to balance user privileges with security, while access to anywhere, anytime collaboration tools can help empower employees and stop the spread of “shadow IT” by shining a light on specific needs and best practices.
Considering the cloud? There’s a solid case for SMBs: Reduced risk combined with empowered apps, lowered costs and improved security.
Should Use The Cloud created by Maryland
Author bio: Steve Johnson is President of Maryland Computer Service, and has been helping businesses harness the power of technology for nearly 20 years. His experiences during that time make him uniquely qualified to guide small and medium businesses through the technologies of today into the future.