Cloud Computing: The Real Solution to SMB IT Woes

Cloud Computing: The Real Solution to Small and Medium Business IT Woes

Cloud computing has transformed the enterprise IT landscape with its game-changing value propositions for progressive business organisations. As the technology evolves beyond the industry hype and enters maturity, organisations of all sizes are looking cloudward to address pressing business and technical challenges they face. And while no one denies the benefits that cloud computing offers, each value proposition must map to specific problems facing the organisation before budget-bound SMB firms jump on the cloud bandwagon.

Here’s how cloud computing addresses the IT challenges facing SMB organisations:

  1. Cost Variability: How can I stretch my IT budget to cover additional vital infrastructure for an increasing user base or burgeoning business expansion? Cloud solutions empower organisations to trade significant CapEx to more modest OpEx and deliver a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) at the same time. Typically, Cloud services utilise a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which becomes a pay-for-what-you-use model when infrastructure resources are scaled up and down according to varying demands. This appeal greatly to SMBs that may not have the deep pockets to spend on IT. Allied to a greatly reduced need for IT support personnel, the cloud has emerged as a leading trend for IT spends. The opportunity cost of new technology adoption is reduced drastically whereas the increased capital retention facilitates investments in key operational areas instead of spending merely to keep the IT systems alive.Consider the cloud use case of the Hosted Desktop technology. With the traditional desktop computing model, your organisation is required to deploy servers and desktop machines on-site for every user. Each machine must be equipped with the necessary hardware resources, OS and software applications. Similarly, faults, software updates, and installations must be addressed individually on every machine as required – and this gets rather frequent for an expanding organisation scaling operations rapidly.Cloud-based hosted desktop solutions allow users to access the same computing capabilities without incurring high CapEx in establishing and managing the infrastructure on-site. The OS and apps are hosted on off-site servers and delivered as a service across the network at an affordable subscription fee. The cost of maintenance, upgrades, repairs and running the machines on-site is replaced entirely with low subscription fee charged by the cloud vendor in charge of all functions associated with the hosted desktop service.
  1. Manageability: How to keep IT application support costs within budget while meeting the expanding needs of the business? Optimising the deployment and value of IT professionals is best achieved by changing the approach to adopting new software. Application roll out and support can eat up significant portions of the IT budget. Organisations are discovering the lower cost profile of utilising SaaS services offered through the Cloud, where ongoing platform maintenance and support costs are primarily borne by the service provider. This delivers options for redeploying in-house staff in more productive roles and areas across the enterprise. Roll out is faster, thereby delivering more rapid and flexible innovation, especially when matched with low subscription based charges and a low cost of acquisition.Professional services organisations do not excel in enterprise IT, yet they rely on the technology to improve operational efficiencies, establish data-driven decisions and reduce risk. A trusted cloud vendor offering IT services and solutions in compliance with stringent regulations empowers professional services organisations to focus on core business operations while meeting compliance. According to a recent Gartner report the resulting cost, innovation and agility are considered as the most appealing factors businesses to embrace cloud solutions.
  1. Agility: We need to develop a new product but lack the computing resources and infrastructure required to develop it…The Cloud delivers agility through easier IT Service adoption. For example, a specialist software can be effectively “hired in” and accessed through a web browser, removing the limitations previously that previously existed when applications had to reside locally on a user’s PC. Remote access to an application from literally anywhere with an Internet connection, by PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone has revolutionised the way organisations can innovate. According to McKinsey, “benefits in time to market and quality are driving Cloud acceptance”. This is precisely what innovation and agility feed on.Cloud Computing: The Real Solution to SMB IT Woes
  1. Scalability: I cannot be sure of how much I need, so my business case looks weakInstant scalability of Cloud services is probably their biggest appeal to those who work at the coal face of day to day IT service provisioning. Want another server? Or more memory or CPUs on an existing server? No problem. Literally, flick a switch and it is provisioned. Your business case can now requisition an OpEx within a reasonable low/high range compared with the comparable CapEx numbers for traditional in-house infrastructure and services, and with less fallout should requirements be underestimated.
  1. Security: Is my sensitive data safe in third-party data centres?Perhaps more appropriate questions should be: Are you prepared to defend against sophisticated security threats on your own? Can you defend against advanced cyber-attacks better than fully regulated and security compliant cloud vendors that spend an insane amount of resources on security?When asked to SMB owners, almost everyone will reply with a ‘No’. But even if they don’t want to acknowledge as such, and would rather maintain control of mission-critical data while still leveraging the cloud for its value propositions, the industry still has an answer to their security woes. The answer is to develop a hybrid model – part in-house for the most sensitive and highly confidential data as a private cloud solution, supplied by an external provider but all yours to configure as per your security policy, and part of a public cloud for low priority/confidentiality data such as old archives and the likes. Current competitive pricing makes this a very feasible proposition.

Cloud computing is here to stay. McKinsey reckons that the volume of IaaS workload sent to the Cloud will grow from 10% in 2015 to 51% in 2018. Every SMB should carefully assess how it can adopt and leverage cloud computing for enhanced productivity, efficiency, and as a platform for innovation.