A recent edition of the Business Use of Information Technology reveals that one out of five businesses paid for cloud computing.
Only 16 per cent of small businesses with five or less employees were likely to pay for cloud computing, while bigger organizations with 200 or more employees demonstrated a preference for cloud computing services.
In contrast, US small businesses have been more receptive to the cloud, with an Intuit study predicting that almost 80 per cent of SMBs would have fully adapted to cloud computing by 2020.
For many small businesses, the cloud is the proverbial elephant in the room. There isn’t much effort directed at understanding its potential benefits for their business. For others, all the hullabaloo about cloud server security is an instant deal-breaker.
Are you unsure about the cloud? Or have you been postponing that conversation for a while now? This blog post will help you look at the cloud differently.
What Does Cloud Hosting Look Like?
Where exactly is the cloud? Let’s paint a simple picture. When you move your business data to the cloud, it’s actually being housed in data centres operated by cloud providers. You’re renting server rack space and the provider handles the rest.
You can just log in to access files and data from any place on your laptop, smartphone or tablet; there’s no need to store and maintain computer software and hardware at your office premises.
It’s flexible, allowing you and your employees to manage your business at any time of the day, from anywhere.
I Know Nothing About Managing A Cloud Server. Won’t It Complicate Things For Me?
There isn’t a steep learning curve to set up a cloud hosted server. In fact, it’s designed to be simple for businesses. A majority of web hosts (even the beginner oriented, shared web hosts like for example Bluehost have started offering cloud services) offer a user-friendly interface, which means you can provision virtual machines without any hassles.
Cloud providers offer clear step-by-step instructions on their website to help you have your very own server up and running in no time at all.
If you don’t want to do the job yourself, there are managed service providers who can set it up for you, in addition to providing remote management, monitoring and technical support.
You can consider infrastructure-as-a-service plans where the provider acts as an extension of your own team, delivering dedicated, on-demand support.
Does A Very Small Business Like Mine Really Need The Cloud?
Cloud computing can be beneficial for your business regardless of its size. With a cloud provider, you don’t need to invest money and time in managing your own on-premises server infrastructure.
By entering into a specific plan with your cloud provider, you just have to pay the monthly fee, and don’t have to make time for hardware installation, updates or maintenance.
Bottom line is, cloud servers allow you to focus on your core business. Microsoft’s surveys have shown that 63% of SMBs leveraging cloud solutions expect an increase in sales compared to 49% who don’t.
Will I Be Able To Control My Data If I Move To The Cloud?
You can very easily access as well as control all your data and applications as and when you want. So, while your infrastructure is not visible to you, you’re always in control of it.
All you need to do is log in to the cloud provider’s control panel and manage your resources just as you would for an on-premises solution. The icing on the cake is that you only pay for what you use when you use it.
What If I’m Having Internet Problems?
Imagine a scenario where your internet suddenly dies when you’re in the middle of an important project. Your server is in-house and you’ll have to face downtime until IT can solve the problem.
However, when you’re hooked up to a cloud server and your internet connection starts acting up, your server will continue running.
So, you can just move on to finding another internet connection – at home or a nearby café – to continue where you left off.
Cloud providers maintain robust state-of-the-art infrastructure to keep workloads accessible, and offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
How Secure Is The Cloud Server?
More secure than your on-premises server actually. As mentioned earlier, a cloud provider’s data center is more powerful and secure than any server environment that you can build yourself.
You also don’t have to deal with problems that are generally associated with an on-premises arrangement, including damage to hardware, backup issues, and a lack of routine maintenance or upgrade.
Basically, you can save the time you would have otherwise spent on security and maintenance related tasks, while also enjoying peace of mind that your cloud provider is taking care of this for you.
What Are The Future Prospects For The Cloud?
Gartner reports that cloud computing will make up the bulk of IT spending from 2016 onwards. Big data is expected to become a more regular feature of cloud deployments.
A few cloud services already offer big data analytics, but many more are expected to embrace big data and its advantages for small business. This will occur simultaneously with businesses themselves realizing the importance and value of big data in informing strategies and roadmaps.
Currently, companies can sign up with cloud vendors that offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and more. They will have many more options to choose from in the future.
Cloud services will diversify beyond big data analytics to include growing services like security, desktops, storage, and others, allowing businesses to zero in on a cloud service that aligns more or less perfectly with their requirements.
This will help them maximize efficiency, innovate faster, and scale up more flexibly.
As far as security is concerned, it is impossible for organizations – big or small – to come anywhere close to the expertise and resources provided and used by cloud providers to secure their networks. And as the cloud matures, so will its security controls.