Bernard Kur, head of product at Global Micro Solutions, looks at the opportunities available to smaller businesses when it comes to the cloud
Having a cloud solution offers many benefits to business – scalability, reduced costs of software licenses, hardware and administration, and the support of a trusted IT advisor. This frees up budget and human resources, allowing the company to focus on its core business.
This offers massive savings and efficiencies to enterprise cloud clients, but it has the potential to do just the same for small businesses – given the right approach. Instead, small businesses tend to try to stretch their existing software quite literally to breaking point – mostly because most cloud solutions have been tailored for enterprise clients, without taking into account the needs of their smaller brethren.
There’s no reason why small businesses shouldn’t be able to enjoy the benefits of the cloud revolution too. In fact, the idea that software licenses and server space and maintenance can be bought on a per-use basis is particularly suited to the often more price-sensitive small business market. Now, for the first time ever, we are seeing that small businesses have access to enterprise solutions at a fraction of the cost.Critical to taking advantage of the cloud, however, is knowing where and how to look for the right solutions. Consider too the situation when a small business’ IT goes down: people and profits are more directly affected than in a large organisation which has the capacity to absorb the loss. In
Critical to taking advantage of the cloud, however, is knowing where and how to look for the right solutions. Consider too the situation when a small business’ IT goes down: people and profits are more directly affected than in a large organisation which has the capacity to absorb the loss. In light of this, it is advisable for SMEs to seek out IT solutions that make administration and continuity someone else’s problem, governed and protected by a service level agreement (SLA).
Small businesses looking to move into the cloud space should consider the following when approaching a provider:
Does the provider offer solutions that are tailored for small business?
Certain aspects of enterprise solutions are not necessary for small businesses. For instance, while they might want cloud-hosted e-mail with mobile access, they don’t need dual data centres. A cloud provider should save costs for small businesses by allowing them to buy only the services that they really need.
Does the provider offer easy scalability of the solution as the small business grows?
The ultimate goal of any small business is to become a bigger business. While cloud solutions are inherently scalable, it’s important to be aware that the cloud solution you have bought into may not be. Ensure that any solutions that you purchase and any contracts that you enter into support rather than hamper your growth.
Is your cloud provider locally based?
Although some of the biggest names in cloud storage are reputable international companies, local businesses should keep their data local. This means that data sovereignty is ensured, local laws and regulations are adhered to, and let’s face it: when things go wrong, you have a real, accessible person to speak to.
Is the price right?
There’s no point in buying into the cloud if you don’t have the budget for it. But you should be able to do a careful cost-benefit analysis to assess whether cloud is the right solution for you. A provider with has a properly thought out SME focus should be able to provide you with solutions and benefits for your budget.
If all of these can be answered to your satisfaction, then you’ve identified a suitable cloud provider to partner with – and “the cloud is your oyster”.