2015 and Beyond: What’s Next for Cloud Providers and the SMB

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Cloud storage and cloud hosting are here to stay and set to boom in 2015. Cloud services such as PaaS, SaaS and IaaS will continue to be a dominant force in the small and midsize (SMB) environment as these organizations look to outsource more IT services to reduce operational expenses and accelerate innovation.

Several factors are converging to accelerate this trend. Network and bandwidth costs are declining. At the same time, mobile computing continues its rapid growth and diversification. In fact, mobile device and app sales will soon account for 40% of IT spending growth, according to IDC, and the number of device types continues to expand, with SMBs increasingly relying on remote workers.

Organizations are gathering and analyzing information at unprecedented rates, and they now recognize that their IT functions must be dynamic and scalable in order for them to stay competitive. One interesting and important result of these trends will be increased demand among SMBs for relatively small, scalable websites and customized apps to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction. As these websites proliferate, however, so will concerns about security and reliability.

Here are some key trends to look for in the year to come:

SMBs will increase their reliance on cloud-based security services. Gartner predicts that more than 30% of security controls for SMBs will be cloud-based in 2015. The primary reasons are competitive pricing, better cost predictability and the promise of near-100% uptime. According to SMB Group, a mere 19% of small businesses now employ full-time dedicated IT staff, and few medium size businesses hire IT specialists who are well-versed in rapidly changing, cutting-edge technologies like mobility, data analytics and security. Increasingly resistant to devoting huge chunks of budget to specialized IT expertise and services, SMBs now recognize that entrusting security functions to the cloud allows them to return the focus of overburdened IT staff on strategic initiatives rather than “keep the lights on” activities. A KPMG survey of cloud adopters confirms that businesses recognize the benefits of cloud-based security providers, with 70% of respondents indicating that cloud services are delivering significant efficiencies and cost savings today.

Hosting providers will be become even more important for SMBs in 2015. As more SMBs deploy multiple small, dynamic websites to optimize interactions with a diverse customer base, and many have already concluded they can save in the long run by managing web application delivery via the cloud. They know that working with a hosting provider is a smart and effective way to ensure that their data is protected, and they understand that cloud technology can deliver the same quality and functionality for their web infrastructure that well-funded enterprise IT departments provide. Whether SMBs are dealing with security issues or web outages, a hosting provider guarantees them better reliability and support, particularly when they don’t have the resources or inclination to expand their IT department.

As acceptance of cloud storage booms, SMBs will demand self-service backup, monitoring and restoration services. As organizations push more and more of their data into the cloud, they can also feel a loss of control and increased vulnerability when it comes to protecting that data. In 2015, SMBs will increasingly demand always-available data from cloud-based vendors, whether the data in question populates websites or consists of corporate files and databases. Whether the threat of downtime or blacklisting comes from hackers seeking to steal sensitive information, from malware or malvertising, or from accidental incidents, SMBs will demand more self-service backup and restoration features to ensure business continuity. Advanced features like one-click data or website restoration, web- and mobile-based website monitoring, real-time website performance reporting, and pain-free database restorations will become big differentiators among cloud services providers.

In spite of rapidly increasing adoption, cloud-based services will continue to pose security risks for SMBs. In 2014, we saw a number of widely publicized security vulnerabilities related to the cloud, including insider threats and threats posed by increased mobility and the proliferation of web apps. That makes SMBs nervous. Many are already deploying standard security and backup tools, but it’s increasingly clear that a purely defensive posture toward security challenges is insufficient. Hosting providers need to educate SMBs that it’s impossible to provide a 100% secure environment. Instead, companies need to begin with the assumption that hackers will, at some point, find an opening—hence the need for more comprehensive solutions for hosting, backing up and restoring data in 2015, with particular emphasis on sophisticated cloud-based risk assessment and mitigation tools.

by Ridley Ruth, COO, Dropmysite http://dropmysite.com

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