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July 4, 2019

Cloud A-Z for Small Businesses

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In the modern era, there might only be a few individuals that would not have heard about cloud technology. According to a study by Gartner, the public cloud revenue is expected to grow 17.3 percent in 2019.

Even so, top executives responsible for making major decisions for their companies are still apprehensive about moving their business operations to the cloud. The reason might be that they do not seem to be fully aware of the benefits that cloud technology has to offer.

Moreover, for small businesses, it is essential to take every step with caution. They have to take into consideration budget constraints before making a move that could alter their business process altogether. 

Anyways, small businesses have to make tremendous efforts to get recognized in the market. For both service-based and product-based small-scale companies, the challenges are numerous. Other than building a brand for themselves, they also have their work cut out in hiring skilled talent, renting office space, and adopting advanced technology. 

Although more and more small businesses have started transitioning to cloud-based solutions, it is necessary to analyze some key aspects before doing the same.

Let ‘s look at some parameters that small businesses must take into account before transitioning to the cloud, the problems they face in day-to-day operations, and how cloud computing could prove to be a game-changer.

Considerations Before Moving to The Cloud 

  1. Choosing the right cloud model – The cloud platform has a wide spectrum of services it can offer to businesses. Depending on the type of services, the cloud platform is divided into various models such as- 
  • SaaS (Software as a Service)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)

You should be able to identify what kind of service you want for your small business and opt for the right cloud model. You can also choose different cloud models for different business processes. 

  1. Size of the business – Before transitioning to the cloud, you should evaluate the size of your company in terms of the number of users as well as the revenue. After having done that, you can analyze the level of cloud services you require and the revenue you are willing to invest in it.
  2. Type of the businessThe type of small business you own decides the type of services you want from a cloud service provider. It is all about prioritizing your needs. Small accounting firms, for instance, have the security of their data as the top priority since they deal with confidential customer data.
  3. Opting for a cloud service providerSelecting the cloud service provider that offers services at affordable rates is not enough. You should look for a cloud hosting provider that can fulfill your requirements, and, at the same time, make the entire process of moving to the cloud convenient. 

Problems Faced by Small Businesses

  1. Mobility – The struggles of sitting behind a desk all day and not being able to keep track of tasks when out of the office is a major concern for small business employees. This increases mental stress and leads to an unhealthy work culture. 
  2. Talent Acquisition – Small businesses that are situated in a particular location find it difficult to hire skilled talent because candidates from a remote location are not willing or not able to work for them.
  3. Threat to Data – Businesses still using on-premise infrastructure for data storage and processing are in constant risk of data loss. This is because physical storage devices are fragile and subject to damage.    
  4. Hardware Troubles – Every hardware system has a lifetime and must be replaced periodically. Small businesses utilize significant time and effort for hardware replacements that could be used for business optimization. 
  5. IT Issues – It is common for every scale of business to experience IT issues regularly. An IT team is deployed to take care of such issues and always has to be available at the office premises. The IT team adds to the workforce leading to a headache for the companies. 
  6. Cost Consideration – Infrastructure-related costs are the primary concern for any company. A business spends a considerable amount of revenue on technology and the supporting hardware. Any unforeseen costs adding to the business process can cause havoc in a business.

Problems Solved by Cloud

1. Remote Access – With cloud computing, users get the ability to access their business process from any remote location at all times. The cloud servers are kept at remote data centers, and the business-related application and data they contain can be accessed with the help of end-point devices such as smartphones with the help of the Internet. This gives small businesses the ability to be in touch with the ongoing operations and access the updated data on the go.

Moreover, as it becomes convenient to work on the tasks from distant locations, the businesses can hire talent from all over the world that can work remotely and deliver the results. 

2. Enhanced Security – Hosting your data and applications on the cloud leads to better data protection. In the on-premise system, the local hardware being vulnerable and in need of constant maintenance results in data loss. However, with cloud computing, the entire business process including data is hosted on remote cloud servers. Any damage or attack on the local hardware does not have any impact on the business.

In addition, the cloud service providers deploy multiple security procedures and protocols such as Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDS & IPS), multi-factor authentication, data encryption, among others. These security safeguards, if deployed to the local infrastructure can result in high expenditure and hassles.  

3. No Hardware Issues – As the business process hosted on the cloud can be accessed with end-point devices such as smartphones, only basic hardware to access the cloud is required. 

You can implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in the office to encourage employees to work on their personal devices. Since there is no need for bulky hardware in the office, a more compact office space is sufficient for daily office operations. 

Since there is no hardware in the office facility, all the issues related to hardware also become inconsequential. 

4. Cost Savings – Opting for cloud hosting services is the best way for any business to save capital as well as operational expenses. Since the business process is hosted in the cloud environment in remote data centers, the cost of purchasing hardware as well as the supporting infrastructure is reduced significantly.

Moreover, the cloud service provider is responsible for the setup, management, and upgrade of the business process. Hence, there is no need to invest in an in-house IT team.

 

Choose the CSP Carefully!

Cloud computing brings with it numerous features that when implemented efficiently can reap fruitful results. However, it is essential for you to choose the best cloud provider for your business that can successfully leverage all the aspects of the cloud and offer the best services. 

Here are some factors you can check before opting for a cloud provider for your business.

  • Uptime – Check for the uptime that the cloud provider is offering in their SLA. 
  • SLA – Go through the SLA to check out all the terms and conditions such as terms of service, the period of contract, etc.
  • Support – You can opt for the cloud provider that offers 24/7 support to all the customers. Not only that, but you should also check whether the provider has a swift response time or not. 
  • Pricing Plans – The pricing plans offered by the cloud provider should be flexible and in accordance with your requirements. Also, check if the pricing plan can be customized as per your business process. 
  • Security – A secure environment is essential for the optimum functioning of any business process. Look for a cloud provider that deploys multiple layers of security as a part of their cloud environment both at the network as well as hardware level. 
  • Data Center- Choose a cloud provider that hosts their servers in data centers that are Tier-3 or above. This ensures the highest level of availability and 100 percent fault tolerance. Also, it is recommended that the data centers are located close to your location which ensures low latency.

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Sharad Acharya is a technical content writer at Ace Cloud Hosting, a leading provider of QuickBooks Enterprise Hosting services. He loves to research the latest technologies and has written articles on cloud computing, virtualization, and security. You can follow him on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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