Cloud Computing for Small Business


January 22, 2015
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Small businesses are recalibrating their IT strategy with cloud computing. Cloud-based provisioning has delivered a boon to the prospects of SMBs without having to deploy and roll-out hardware-intensive infrastructure, like servers and networking systems.

The high availability of the cloud provides collaboration on the frontlines by utilizing the ubiquitous browser. Cloud computing is a wide umbrella which has many sub-divisions and is no longer cost-prohibitive. For example, SMBs utilize IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) where businesses rent and leverage infrastructure from as virtual resources from private or public cloud providers.

Businesses leverage the cloud to access information anytime and anywhere using mobile devices. Faster and more robust internet speeds, and the explosion of wireless technologies have contributed greatly to the rise and the ubiquity of the cloud. The easy-to-use interface enables everyday administrators, editors and subscribers to access next-generation technology without being supervised by an IT specialist. Cloud Computing works by making data available from a Web-powered hub that gives authorized access to anyone with an internet connection.

Cloud-based solutions have become a hallmark of how SMBs run their day-to-day IT tasks. You’d be hard-pressed to run applications that are not powered by the cloud. The universal presence has SMBS questioning the security, proprietary data ownership and stability of cloud computing for small business. Recent studies have shown that cloud-adoption by SMBs has mushroomed the past few years, but most stakeholders still fear their ability to manage disparate cloud services.

A huge concern is the ability of SMBs to control the cloud that they become dependent on, such as day-long outages that have occurred to massive conglomerates like Amazon and Intuit. This highlights the stark reality that exists when you outsource disparate IT functions to off-site providers and how you are dependent on their uptime reliability to run your business-critical software, such as Simply Accounting.

Cloud Computing for Small Business

Cloud computing is a key business enabler. Most SMBs do not have the resources to key-in and focus on optimizing an array of technology-based facilitators. Many SMBs bank-on IT generalists to accelerate the transition to new technologies, as it falls outside their scope of expertise.

The progression of the shift of the cloud to the mainstream has been incredible: while only 47% of SMBs were using at least one cloud solution in 2009 that number has ballooned to 92% in 2014. SMBs are utilizing the cloud to gain insight into analytics, across multiple channels, and need high-end computing power and scalable storage to accommodate their drive.

This upward trend will continue in 2015, as SMBs are turning looking at the cloud to streamline operations, develop innovative new product lines and solve day-to-day operational problems. While most small businesses businesses look to public cloud adopters, like the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Microsoft OneDrive, there has been a shift in approach by medium-sized businesses who are looking for the hybrid cloud alternative. Mid-size businesses believe the hybridized cloud-based options will better ensure that they can meet security and privacy benchmarks.

The three type of cloud services are:

Public Cloud Computing: Public cloud computing is a cloud-service provider offers resources within a shared infrastructure, such as applications, available to the public through the internet. Within this public infrastructure, users get their own cloud ecosystem that they can operate in. The cloud-service provider offers security, management and maintenance of your cloud system either through pay-per-usage/ subscription-based service offering or some companies offer free services.

Private Cloud Computing: Private cloud computing is a firewall-protected architecture, supported by your own hardware and software, and under the control of authorized IT staff. It is a great cloud-based service offering for exclusive access to the cloud, greater IT efficiency and greater control management. It is considered a pricier option because SMBs have to build their own data centers.

Hybrid Cloud Computing: A hybrid cloud solution combines both private and public clouds into one crossbred environment. An organization’s outsourced or in-house IT team manages the private cloud aspect, while SMBs simply pay an outside organization to fully manage their public cloud. In many cases, SMBs that opt for a hybrid cloud system do so because they want to manage sensitive data in-house, and warehouse less-sensitive data with a third party.

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