Why Cloud Computing is inevitable for SMEs

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – In our increasingly globalized world, small businesses need an active communications network to span the geographically distributed regions of the organization. But the business applications required to achieve this are a costly proposal in our current economic climate. This is making it progressively difficult for young organizations to compete with huge corporations who hold seemingly infinite budgets. But we are now seeing the emergence of multi-tenanted business applications based upon a price-per-user model, or in other words, the Public Cloud. This is allowing smaller organizations to enjoy enterprise level services, security and products, at a fraction of the price.

Now is the time to begin “Thinking Big” – and utilizing communications to get there. With Cloud Computing, instead of operating Desktops, Applications, Exchange or Voice through physical in-house servers, they are hosted on centralized virtual servers in a data center. This whole process is quick to set up and uncomplicated to use; you just login, customize and begin. Applications are more scalable, more secure and more reliable as you don’t need a copy of an app for every department using it, just one app which is resilient enough for everyone to customize for their own unique wants. You can immediately provision applications whenever you demand them as the end user directly controls the resources they require. This allows businesses striving to adjust to the pace and dynamism of business today to deploy highly resilient virtual machines for their employees, dawning a new era of flexibility.

Managers are beginning to recognize a change in the dynamics of their businesses now that staff can be networked more cost-effectively, no matter where in the world they are. Employees can benefit from enhanced mobility with access to their individual desktop user profile from any device – Laptop, Thin Client or iPad – from anywhere in the world within range of a 3G network. This makes it easy to link up people and offices in one cohesive, responsive unit in which users share and synchronize emails, diaries and files. Small businesses can hire home-based workers, or open small branch offices, or more effectively connect employees on their mobiles to deliver seamless, customer service as easily as a large corporation. Cloud Computing also supercharges staff productivity and innovation by providing access to the latest technology without the need for any investment in upgrades so small companies get best class IT on a global scale without having to spend a penny.

IT executives have raised some concerns about the security of their data in the Cloud. But since all data and applications are centralized in a data center, it is immensely easier to enable and enforce processes and procedures to ensure security, privacy and other best practices. No data is stored on a device, so you never have to worry about proprietary data coming into the wrong hands if the device itself is lost, stolen or breaks. This is particularly noteworthy with potentially gigabytes of sensitive corporate data sitting on the desk of every staff member.

But some executives are still hesitant to take the step: their view is that they would no longer be able to ‘touch and feel’ the systems which drive their company. Alex Parker, CTO of Commensus PLC is not surprised by this reaction, but feels there is enough experience of remote working to relieve those fears. “Data centers have been on the scene for three decades or more: Cloud computing is simply a logical progression of that service. There has been little evidence of firms experiencing troubles with access to data and with comprehensive service level agreements that specify virtually uninterrupted availability, any remaining concerns should be set aside.”

Most businesses are small (over 98% have less than 100 employees) and they like it that way: they value the flexibility, responsiveness and customer interaction. It is clearer than ever that the competitiveness of an organization is now less dependent on its size than ever before. By having effective use of today’s communications capabilities, small companies can contend against anyone, anytime, anywhere, of any size. If you think it, you can do it. With the development of cloud technology and the applications and solutions available to small business, the sky really is the limit and size is no longer an issue.

By: Jack Wilson