Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of any healthy economy. They support one-third of all employment in developing countries, while providing more than 80% of all new jobs in Europe. Yet they face a number of cloud computing challenges that may prevent them from fully utilizing cloud resources to grow their business quickly and efficiently.
To understand these cloud computing issues, it’s important to first be familiar with cloud computing concepts, providers, benefits, common cloud problems, security concerns about cloud adoption , cloud solutions for SMBs & types of cloud services .
The term “cloud” is used quite frequently in technology these days but can be rather ambiguous because there isn’t a universally accepted definition for it yet. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describes cloud computing as “a pay-per-use model for enabling available, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
The Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) is another great definition for cloud computing : “A dynamic infrastructure in which virtualized pools of configurable computing resources are optimized through global coordination over the Internet. The cloud allows clients to access these resources whenever needed anywhere in the world without concerns about which physical location they are coming from.”
Common cloud providers include Amazon’s AWS , Microsoft’s Azure, Red Hat’s Openshift, and Google cloud.
Cloud computing adoption can bring a number of benefits to an SMB including: lower costs, scalability, increased flexibility and IT agility. However, not every cloud platform will provide you with all these features. You also need to ask yourself whether cloud services are available from your location or whether they only operate out of one data center. To make the right decision on a cloud provider, it is important to take into account common cloud problems to expect.
The list of cloud computing benefits offered by top providers may seem rather attractive but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any potential risks involved with cloud computing for SMBs.
Here are some cloud computing problems that you should be aware of:
Loss of control over data. When choosing cloud services, it is important to understand where your company’s data will be stored and who has access to it. If the cloud service provider goes out of business, who will take responsibility for your company’s data? You need to ask cloud providers these questions before signing any agreements with them.
Data security is another common cloud problem that companies encounter when using cloud platforms. Even though cloud providers might encrypt sensitive data in transit and at rest (i.e., while stored on cloud servers), they may not do the same in all the locations in which your information will be transmitted or moved around. This can result in potential risks for cloud users.
Another cloud security issue is the risk of data breach. While cloud providers may use multiple layers of protection (firewalls, intrusion detection systems, etc.), it only takes one vulnerability to expose your company’s confidential information and put its reputation at risk
The lack of governance, which often results in a disorganized cloud environment with many shadow IT cloud services being adopted by employees without proper oversight from IT, can be another cloud computing problem for SMBs.
Cloud service models vary as much as cloud providers themselves do. You need to find a solution that will fit the specific needs of your business efficiently and securely. In order to pick the right type of cloud service for your SMB, you need to understand cloud service models and cloud service types.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) : IaaS cloud computing provides you with virtualized computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services). It allows clients to use these resources whenever they need them paying only for the time that they are using them. This is a very good solution for SMBs that want to set up an in-house cloud but don’t have enough financial or human resources to invest in their own cloud infrastructure. This model offers more control over cloud environments, which makes it more secure than other cloud types.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) : In PaaS cloud computing, client companies can develop and run their own cloud-based applications without having to manage cloud infrastructure. This model is mostly used by companies that want cloud computing for one of their software products.
Software as a Service (SaaS) : SaaS cloud computing allows you to access many cloud-based business software such as email, customer relationship management (CRM), office tools, payroll processing and data storage services on demand
The capabilities of cloud computing for small businesses largely depend on the type of cloud service adopted by your company: IaaS or PaaS: Your company can start with basic cloud services and scale up as it grows. For example, an accounting firm might use IaaS cloud to store and share data with team members when they are working on a project. Once the cloud storage is set up , cloud tools can be used by all employees to work from anywhere at any time .
Saas cloud: You can use cloud computing to transform your company’s business processes. Your SMB may decide to replace in-house software with cloud-based alternatives that offer greater flexibility, reliability and lower costs. For example, an ecommerce company might opt for SaaS cloud service in order to manage its day-to-day operations such as customer relationship management, product inventory and accounting
Using cloud services is beneficial for small businesses because it helps them access powerful capabilities without having to invest in cloud infrastructure. This type of cloud computing is cost-effective, scalable and reliable for SMBs.
The cloud offers many opportunities because it allows your company to focus on its core business instead of having to worry about IT components such as server maintenance, system administration and security. If your cloud service provider has a good track record, cloud computing can offer you flexibility, lower costs and improved productivity.