There is a major misconception in the small business sector today that cloud computing is just for large enterprises.
Walter Scott, CEO of GFI Software would argue that the cloud offers many features that are uniquely suited to meet the specific needs of small businesses..
SMALL BUSINESS cloud adoption is on the rise because the cloud enables small businesses to design, build and manage their IT infrastructure efficiently and cost-effectively.
Cloud products are just better: Cloud products are better and a better fit for small businesses because the deployment model makes it easier for IT administrators to get the products up and running in a very short time.
Little Intervention: Cloud products require little intervention on the administrator’s part unlike on-premise solutions which require a more involved install.
New Features Faster: On the vendor’s part, it can roll out new features at a much faster rate, product testing is much easier and the customer only has to worry about the agent deployed on servers and workstations.
Assured Quality: Quality assurance is a speedier process because testing is only required on the vendor’s backend systems and not on multiple configurations and environments to mirror users’ possible infrastructures.
Vendor Responsiveness: Cloud products are better because the vendor’s responsiveness to users’ needs is much faster – you can easily monitor how they are using the system. Finally, cloud products can be provided on a single platform which makes it easier for the vendor to integrate other products and diversify its offerings.
Prices are competitive: Small businesses do not have the budget or IT resources that larger enterprises do, yet they still require the same levels of protection and performance. The cost of building and maintaining an IT infrastructure – particularly in very small companies – is often prohibitive. Cloud service providers address the unique needs of small businesses by providing them with quality and robust solutions at a price point they can afford and a payment model that suits them.
Save on IT Resources: Companies with no dedicated IT resource and, say, 30 or fewer employees, will find managed services to be a very attractive option.
Billing Methodology: With pay-as-you-go, monthly billing, for example, small businesses benefit from a wide range of IT services and 24/7 support, enabling them to control spending and focus on growing their business rather than worrying about the technology. On the other hand, small businesses with dedicated resources are adopting the technology to manage and automate networking tasks, and, in doing so, they are only paying for the services they need, thus controlling costs and saving time. Cloud-based services help to simplify IT management.
IT resources are scarce: The time and effort it takes to deploy and manage solutions is also a major consideration. It is often the case that many small businesses have only one person – or no one – managing the whole network.
Easier Installation: With a cloud-based service, the burden of installing, configuring and maintaining technology is shifted onto the provider. This frees up time for the IT admin to focus on initiatives that impact the business, such as managing network performance, keeping networks secure and ensuring that service providers are delivering as promised. Cloud-based services also have a higher velocity of change and updates and program improvements can be implemented almost instantly.
Easier IT Management: Small businesses without a dedicated IT person have more urgent needs and managed service providers (MSPs) are now an important IT resource and support function for them. MSPs have the technology skills of larger organizations and can assist smaller companies by managing remotely most of their IT technologies and infrastructure. For many small businesses, the MSP is a lifesaver and a money-saver as well.
Fear is down: The “fear” factor associated with cloud computing is decreasing among small businesses in large part due to the consumerization of cloud services. Many consumers are now using hosted services for their personal email and connecting to cloud applications via their smartphones and tablets – removing their fear of the “unknown”.
Comfort Level Increasing: As their comfort level with and confidence in cloud services rises from personal use, small business IT professionals will be more apt to leverage the cloud for business purposes. Small businesses are also feeling the pressure to move to the cloud because many important business tools such as payroll, banking services and accounting are now cloud-based services.
Caution Remains: At the same time, small businesses are still “cautious” and concerned they will have to give up control of their data to a third party cloud service provider. However, they are beginning to realize that the same best practices that protect data housed on-premise can also go a long way in securing information in the cloud. They can work with their chosen vendor to ensure that safeguards are in place to ensure the availability of their data and protect it from hackers, malware and other unauthorized access. Additionally, cloud services are more secure and reliable than ever before.
The Market is Maturing: The market is maturing and provider services are more robust, reliable and secure than ever. Larger companies, specifically independent software vendors (ISVs), understand how the financial and reputational losses associated with data breaches and downtime can be detrimental to a cloud service provider’s business.
Therefore, they are forced to invest even more time and money into the application or service they provide to their customers – far more than an small business could with an on-premise product. they should feel confident that cloud services vendors are now doing everything in their power to protect clients’ data, including implementing a layered approach to security with firewalls and other solutions that secure sensitive information and prevent data breaches, and offering the highest levels of redundancy and reliability to ensure clients can access their data 24/7 from any location.
Networks are improved, costs are down: Today’s robust cloud environments are possible thanks to providers being able to invest heavily in the technology required to provide a reliable service, ensure redundancy systems are in place and avail themselves of the best diagnostic tools. This improvement in cloud infrastructure is also a result of costs dropping by up to 40% per year.
With such a high level of investment in security, reliability and redundancy, as well as fast networks and flexible bandwidth, small businesses can access cloud-based services and applications with greater confidence and ease – anytime, anywhere.
Conclusion: Cloud-based services give small businesses a fresh approach to managing their IT networks. As cloud-based services simplify IT for administrators, small businesses will continue to adopt “the cloud” at a rapid pace. Going down the cloud path is the future for many small businesses, and those that understand the value of cloud computing and take full advantage of the business benefits it provides will see themselves doing business faster, more effectively and more efficiently.
Walter Scott is the CEO of GFI Software, a leading provider cloud-based IT solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.