There has always been a great debate on the usability and benefits that cloud has to offer. Cloud pundits and most industry veterans speculate that cloud computing is one of the most evolutionary and fast growing technologies since the internet. Although low entry cost, flexibility and scalability are among the key benefits, cloud computing has to offer a lot more than that. When sourced by a recognised and certified cloud provider, it can provide higher levels of security than in-house IT.

This white paper will discuss and review 10 benefits of cloud computing that directly benefits the business operations and objectives of small and medium businesses as well.

1. Global Access

The need for global access to business applications and data is more important than ever. Cloud computing enables businesses and end users to access their software, servers, data and other IT resources from anywhere with an internet connection.

According to “The State of the Telework in USA” published by Global Workplace Analytics, a 73% increase in telecommuting was witnessed from 2005-2011, where teleworkers grew from 1.8 million to 3.1 million in the US alone despite the recession.  Migrating and adapting to cloud-based solutions will certainly help address the challenges of business’s dependence on the internet.

2. Flexibility

Cloud computing provides enormous flexibility in implementing IT solutions for your company. Small and emerging businesses generally require access to IT solutions which adjust with their business pace. Cloud virtually provides most business-critical IT resources essential for the operations of small businesses.  These include virtual servers, dedicated servers, vendor developed business applications, productivity applications, custom enterprise class applications, application development platforms and more. With the ever growing transformation towards cloud, newer and much better solutions are always rolling in.

3. Capex and Opex Reduction

Cloud computing tremendously reduces the capital costs to purchasing stacks of IT infrastructure. Besides the standard desktop/workstations and Internet connectivity, SMB can replace their existing application servers, storage servers, business applications, etc with cloud-based resources. New companies can start off their servers on a low monthly rental without paying any upfront cost for their purchase. Most SMB require anywhere from 10 to 100 servers to meet their business needs and savings of approximately $1,000 per server can make a big difference.

Although cloud computing is considered more of an operating expense than a capital expense, it also reduces operational expenses to quite an extent. These include the human resources required to manage servers, electricity, cooling, and maintenance costs.

Even private cloud solutions that are integrated within the organisation greatly reduce the amount of hardware infrastructure required to deploy, host and operate applications, services and storage.

4. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

SMB’s generally have fragile business environments, where changing market conditions, consumer demands and other factors greatly affect the business. Similarly, most of them lack well designed disaster recovery and business continuity infrastructure. Their IT Infrastructure is prone to data loss and has limited resources for restoring business operations in case of a disrupting event.  Financial costs and operational management restrict them in creating a disaster recovery solution that matches or exceeds their business requirements. This is where cloud computing is of great help. Cloud computing ensures the protection, restoration and continuation of business processes and applications in various ways.  Due to the managed service platform of cloud computing, business data and applications are stored, managed and secured by the cloud service provider. Regardless of the type of solution sourced from a cloud service provider, they are continuously backed up on the secure and disaster tolerant provider’s infrastructure. Cloud service providers are responsible for ensuring the availability of resources all the time.

5. Automatic Updates

Among the major tasks in an IT department is keeping all the software and services up to date across the organisation.

Cloud computing sourced from a managed service platform under a formal and pre-agreed SLA ensures the end-users and organisation receives the most up to date software version. Regardless of the type and number of products, it is the cloud service provider’s responsibility to keep the system up to date.

6. Managed IT Services

SMB’s usually can’t afford an IT department that ensures its computing resources perform as expected. The managed service platform offering of cloud computing provides SMB’s a platform to source and manage their IT resources. Cloud service providers work throughout the day as your dedicated 24/7/365 help desk and IT support that manages your cloud-sourced infrastructure. SMB’s are relieved from buying, deploying and managing the underlying infrastructure and are better positioned at focusing on their key business processes and objectives. Cloud service providers also find and resolve network problems much quicker than in-house IT.

7. Security

Cloud computing has long been criticized for not being secure and providing very limited privacy. In contrast, cloud computing is more secure than in-house IT in several ways:

  • One of the top priorities and most essential service offerings of cloud providers is to secure the IT assets of its customers. They will do whatever it takes to ensure the security of their customer’s data and applications.
  • Cloud service providers have industry certification and standards that validate the strength of security within their processes and IT systems. SMB’s have scarce security-specific staff and usually are not certified by an industry standard.
  • The data is protected using military grade or equivalent encryption algorithms that are virtually impossible to exploit. It is stored in an environment that has multi-layered security and authentication mechanisms such as physical security checks, biometrics, component-level login and more.
  • Cloud service providers have better IT governance frameworks and practices which ensure their IT-based processes are controlled and less prevalent to risk.

8. Minimal deployment time and higher competitiveness

Cloud computing gives small and medium businesses a level of freedom, flexibility and scalability in being more competitive. SMB’s can quickly launch new products and services, meet demand spikes in busy seasons and scale their business when they want to.

What usually holds back small organisations in developing, testing, and launching a product is the time and money required to invest in a new venture. With the available cloud computing configurations the time to market is substantially reduced and new products and solutions can be quickly deployed.

Cloud computing fosters innovation by providing a pre-configured platform to work on new and innovative ideas without jeopardizing extreme investments in IT.  IT solutions that take weeks and months on traditional in-house IT models can be sourced within days.

9. Environmentally Friendly

IT Infrastructure accounts for one of the major producers of carbon dioxide emissions, specifically which evolve from large data centres. Small businesses, although having smaller carbon footprints than large organisations, play their part in environmental pollution.

With cloud computing, they can be greener. Enhancing cloud technology means you are reducing the amount of IT infrastructure required for your business. The less IT infrastructure, the less electricity, cooling and lighting requirements, which result in a more environmentally friendly business.

10. Economical

Regardless of a business’s nature, striving for monetary gains is among their top business objectives. Cloud computing is considered more economical than traditional IT models as they require only minimal operational expenditure and cost less to source, manage and operate. With cloud computing, the in-house servers, storage and disaster recovery capital costs can be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether.

When a business considers expanding, they can upgrade to a more powerful server without incurring any additional capital costs. Businesses are only required to pay for the services used, not for the server purchase and the associated resources.

Cloud computing also ensures that IT costs are predictable and help to forecast future IT budgets more efficiently.

Hayden McMaster