22 May SMEs Gravitating To The Cloud
SMEs Gravitating To The Cloud
Cloud technology continues to evolve at a fast past. Growth in the industry is especially strong in developed economies. IBIS World reports that in the UK, revenues from cloud computing will top £7.6 billion in 2013-2014. That marks a 10.9 percent increases over 2012-2013. Yet, cloud computing is widely regarded to be in its infancy stages. In many ways, UK businesses are behind the cloud curve.
UK cloud technology will play an ever more noticeable role in the UK economy, which is only projected to grow by about 1.3 percent compounded annually through 2018-2019. IBIS World projects an industry growth rate of 9.7 percent compounded annually. There are many, many reasons to respect these growth projections.
- Growth between 2009 – 2014 averaged 6.4 percent annually.
- Cloud Computing currently employs 46,583 UK workers.
- Only 3,230 UK businesses currently use the technology.
The trend is undeniable and the growth is unmistakable. Yet, with all its global, mobile advantages, especially to SMEs, there remain many uniformed potential users and another group of naysayers.
Cloud Benefits That Are Growing In Popularity
In many ways, cloud technology is still evolving, especially in the area of security. However, unmistakable benefits of the cloud are:
Economical – Pay-as-you-go cloud computing is far and away the least expensive way to equip an organization with the latest software and hardware. Whether the business has one office or more or multiple offices across international boundaries, the most cost-effective way to get all offices on the same page is through cloud technology. Rather than have licensed software at every workstation, the cloud allows every user access to the latest software which is updated almost as soon as new programs come to market.
Flexible – For businesses that add or subtract staff periodically, the cloud allows fluctuations in hardware and software demand. Capacity can be added or subtracted on an as-needed basis. The user only pays for the hardware and software that is in use. This makes periods of expansion or high activity extremely budgetable.
Consistency – IT departments panic when power outages occur. With the cloud, users receive state-of-the-art backup systems and high degrees of reliability. Very often backup power systems are in place and even if the user’s area suffers an outage, data is stored elsewhere. Cloud providers are obligated to have emergency response teams and protocols as part of their service agreements.
Rapid Implementation – There is no need to undergo a procurement or certification program with the cloud. These undertakings are provided by the cloud provider. These providers offer more tools, services and features than many of the biggest corporations in the world. A business can convert and be up and running in very little time. This is the path to globalization that many SMEs are embracing.
Increased Productivity – Businesses need no longer be reliant upon the skills of their IT departments. These skills are provided by the cloud provider. Gone are the hassles of internal maintenance and IT system configuration and architecture. The SME can now focus on the task at hand and the really critical activities that drive the business.
Who Is Using Cloud Technology
Cloud computing is now benefitting both the public and private sector. One of President Barrack Obama’s first initiatives was to encourage the use of open innovation and cloud computing to enable a smoother functioning government. The sheer size of government in the US mandates more fluid interaction between agencies, especially in areas of national security.
An article entitled the State of Public Cloud Computing points out the significant savings governments are enjoying through cloud technology. The City of Los Angeles has converted to the cloud and projects savings of more than $5.5 million over the next five years.
When Siamak Farah, founder of InfoStreet launched the first cloud in 1996, he was driven by one guiding principle; that every hour and every dollar spent on IT was a waste of money for most enterprises that were not in the business of providing computer services.
The Security Issue
Supporters of the cloud say that for the majority of SMEs, cloud security is not as significant a risk as opponents of the cloud would have the business believe. However, there is no question that security is the top reservation for companies considering the cloud.
In the case of many SMEs, cloud security is actually better than the security the SME enjoys in their own environment. Many cloud hosts have far superior security capabilities than SMEs. For example, imagine the security needed to host e-Bay, which is housed in London’s Docklands, “one of the most resilient data centres in the world.”
Before an SME can properly evaluate the merits of cloud based security, they should ask a consultant to assess their internal security. There are very few internal systems that cannot be hacked. Reputable cloud providers have layered security systems. In most cases, these systems are much more secure than the internal security system of the business.
Andy Chou, co-founder and CTO at Coverity, says; “The reality is that cloud based systems are not necessarily less secure. Because cloud services can be updated on the fly, known security issues can be fixed rapidly. In addition, major cloud service providers constantly monitor their systems and have strong notification policies when there’s a breach.
“A lot of SMBs believe they are secure but they are not. You can’t live in an ivory tower. You need to have your wits about you and understand security; you need to follow good practice.”
Cloud providers are sensitive and more diligent about security than a large majority of SMEs. If the business is unsure about cloud security, meet with providers and get a better understanding of the service they provide. You can save money, increase productivity and in many cases be more secure in the cloud than with your own internal system and IT department.
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