Cloud is Not a Cult: Pros and Cons for Small Business

  • Designing Infrastructure is Like Baking: Mix it Up
  • Pros of Cloud for Small Business
  • Cons of Cloud for Small Business
  • Help! What Should You Do?

Designing Infrastructure is Like Baking: Mix it Up

People need a mix of different tech solutions for their organizations. It can get annoying when cloud companies suggest that their technology should be used in every possible scenario. It’s just not true. We can say that confidently because we offer cloud along with dedicated infrastructure.

This is an important message: Cloud does not require that level of commitment. Although it may seem that everyone is worshiping the cloud as a false idol, technology really is not a cult. Don’t worry: no one is going to knock on the door of your underground bunker in a few years and tell you that legacy infrastructure actually was not destroyed in the Apocalypse.

“Enterprises need a mix of infrastructure, and they can benefit from the interdependent value delivered by combining colocation, hosting, and cloud services,” analyst Paul Burns stated in a recent whitepaper for Gigaom Research. “Managed services are also a helpful option, whether delivered by an infrastructure provider or a specialized managed service provider (MSP).”

Computerworld had the same basic message: organizations are often best served by a blend of cloud and traditional architecture.

Let’s be straightforward with this: what are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud in a small-business setting?

Pros of Cloud for Small Business

1. Better Disaster Recovery

Cloud is a particularly strong choice for disaster recovery. It’s simple and relatively affordable to store your data with a cloud provider and recover if needed. You really do want to have your data in a second location so that a physical event doesn’t destroy all copies. Automated backups are especially helpful so that everything stays as current as possible – as indicated by business consultant Larry Alton.

How important is backup? Collaborative research by SpiceWorks and Carbonite revealed that 45% of small businesses have lost information, with a typical expense of $9000 to recover it.

“The [high] cost really comes in around how quickly your data can be recovered,” explained Brian Geisel, CEO of Geisel Software. “For most situations, you can setup DR that will recover within a couple of hours for less than $1,000.”

Which one looks more budget-friendly to you?

  1. Backup/disaster recovery storage – $1000
  2. Data loss recovery – $9000
  3. None of the above

The answer is Choice A! Choice B is 800% more expensive, and Choice C is imaginary.

2. Quick Data Access & Sharing

What organization wouldn’t want real-time collaborative tools to enhance cooperation and coordinate efforts between various employees and departments? As Jason Bowden points out in Business 2 Community, you can access data anywhere. You can exchange files seamlessly. It frees you from the constructs of brick-and-mortar and the 9-to-5 workday.

3. Sustainability & Reduced Energy Costs

By using the cloud, you are choosing a more energy-efficient model. In fact, it can reduce your carbon emissions by 30%, said Alton.

“For small companies, the decreased energy usage can reach 90 percent – a huge money saver,” argued Alton. “It can also help a business project an environmentally sound image.”

Cons of Cloud for Small Business

No one could reasonably deny that the third platform – cloud/mobile/social/big data – has incredible strengths, as indicated above. However…

1. Dependence on the Internet

Remember that the cloud is not on-location. Anything that is not on your company’s premises requires a stable Internet connection. Yes, cloud is accessible from anywhere – provided that “anywhere” offers a strong web connection. You ideally want to have two ways to access your data for the sake of redundancy and business continuity.

When you do use cloud, keep in mind that you need to have supreme confidence in your Internet connection, argued Alton. Consider a connectivity expense an investment to support your cloud infrastructure.

2. Technical Gitches

The best cloud service providers will have glitches, regardless how much attention they pay to maintenance and monitoring, said Bowden.

He reiterated the importance of a strong web connection (#1) that’s also as fast as possible so that you can minimize any latency.

3. Security Concerns

Are you comfortable storing your data on an intangible virtual server?

The cloud isn’t for every business. You may have very specialized compliance concerns that you want to handle on-premises. (Keep in mind that many cloud providers do actually offer HIPAA-compliant options – so it’s certainly not necessary to do compliant IT in-house.)

Be aware that if you do have your own server/infrastructure, you must work closely with IT professionals to maintain the security of your system. It’s easy to argue for cloud safety if your company’s own security mechanisms are weak.

Alton brings up an important point, though: “One former Scotland Yard detective believes that you are ultimately the only entity that can fully control your data. Additionally, because the purported safety of cloud computing isn’t standardized, you may have a difficult time determining how well third-parties protect your data.”

Help! What Should You Do?

 

It’s not always obvious whether cloud is the right choice. Consider the above pros and cons as you make your decision.

Also remember, though: Cloud is not the only way to outsource infrastructure. We can help you in your decision, and we offer 30 Days Unlimited Assistance to prevent migration headaches.

By Kent Roberts

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