In this spinoff of our previous article about general benefits of a cloud server over an on-premises one, we look at the specific key advantages of cloud computing for small business. Then we explore a six-step SMB cloud transition checklist.
- 7 Benefits of Cloud for Small Business
- 5-Step SMB Cloud Transition Checklist
7 Benefits of Cloud for Small Business
Generally speaking, cloud computing is a positive choice for business. It’s an especially easy and sensible direction when we are talking about SMBs and startups.
For one thing, the typical issues enterprises might raise related to cloud – particularly integration and security – are minimized at a small business because the systems are less complex and because growth is prioritized over concerns with third-party data protection. Cloud server hosting services actually tend to be a major improvement in security over in-house systems, but that’s more obvious in the context of SMBs.
Plus, cloud’s economies of scale will have a more significant impact when your company isn’t yet large enough to cut costs or build the same level of functionality independently.
The advantages of cloud for small to midsize companies include:
- Economies of scale – Since enterprises are so big, they are able to take advantage of the economies of scale – essentially the savings that come with volume. Cloud systems essentially give these businesses bulk buying power so that they don’t have to shoulder equipment and resource costs independently.
- Enterprise-grade tools – Large companies can tailor and maintain their internal systems as needed. Again, SMBs can’t achieve that end on their own; but they can access development and maintenance best practices via cloud computing.
- Affordability – Everyone likes to save money, but that’s more essential for the small business, which generally doesn’t have the funding to build its own datacenter.
- No legacy conundrum – Enterprises get immediately concerned about integration with their current systems, especially when they have invested in substantial customization. SMBs, particularly startups, don’t have that same degree of IT sophistication. It’s a simpler move.
- Security – Again, it’s more immediately obvious to small businesses that a cloud provider can give them a higher degree of security than they could generally achieve designing a system themselves.
- Compliance – Enteprises take the issue of data provenance (which takes into account factors such as location, ownership, and custody) very seriously because they often must meet strict compliance guidelines, notes Fredric Paul of ReadWrite. “That’s a huge issue for multinational corporations, less so for most small businesses,” he says.
- Reliability – Occasionally there is a high-profile news story about a cloud outage, so it’s reasonable to wonder whether the cloud is generally reliable. The answer is an emphatic Yes. Reliability is actually one of the major principles behind the whole notion of cloud: a network of many different physical machines, with work sent to ones that are immediately available. Small businesses can’t achieve that level of multiple redundancy on their own.
5-Step SMB Cloud Transition Checklist
Clearly cloud has its advantages for small business. How do you make the transition? Here is a quick checklist:
Step #1 – Get insight.
As with any major choice, you want to collect as much knowledge as you can. You want to understand the basic characteristics of the technology so you can fully leverage it to your advantage. (For example, it gives you immediate access to virtually unlimited resources to work with big data.) Researching benefits really is important, says Rick Delgado of Tech.Co. “Blindly moving to the cloud without fully understanding how it works can create numerous problems down the line,” he explains. “Identifying an end goal of how to use cloud computing should be a high priority.”
Step #2 – Take an uncomplicated approach.
There is always calculated risk when making any transition with your business. Make sure you are moving carefully and methodically, not overwhelming yourself.
Step #3 – Define your vision.
Major adjustmentss can be a bit nerve-wracking for SMBs, and you might find that some of your workforce is not completely onboard. Since that’s the case, it’s not enough for the IT director or consultant to say cloud computing is great. You need to communicate the value. Outline the advantages specific to each department.
Step #4 – Tap the power of example.
Ask around at other small companies (ones in your sector, if possible) to get ideas. Companies that took the leap a year or two ago have a first-hand sense of pros and cons.
Step #5 – Select the best cloud provider.
Finally, you have to figure out which vendor is best – because “the cloud” is really multiple clouds, each designed by different hosting companies. Make sure you get all your questions answered before moving forward. “Ask about pricing and reliability,” says Delgado. “A good vendor should be able to provide statistics on its performance and capabilities.”
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