The Cloud and SMBs: Promising, but Not Quite as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

How IT Can Save SMBs Big Money

If there is an evergreen discussion theme at conferences or other gatherings of IT managers and executives, it's on ways of reducing costs while upping productivity.

Lists are great things. They are concise, generally to the point, and-by definition-numbered (or, to stretch a point, lettered). I recently ran across four interesting lists pertaining to cloud computing and SMBs. So, instead of searching for a thread between the three-outside of the fact that they are about cloud and SMBs-I've opted just to describe them in order. Call it the "cloud/SMB" blog of lists.

Usually, stories concerning cloud computing and small- and medium-size businesses are rosy and upbeat. After all, cloud alleviates much or all of the capex investment, frees personnel to focus on the core work that the organization does and brings a group with specialized expertise to the aid of the customer. But, according to Light Reading, SMBs often hesitate to take a walk in the clouds.

The story-which is about a cloud initiative from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)-deals with these obstacles. The piece says that there are five main objections: uncertainties over which providers or technologies to choose, concerns about vendor lock-in, lack of interoperability between services from different cloud providers, skepticism over geographic reach and the perceived inability to get multiple applications to work in concert.

Next up is a Fox Business list looking at things that are important to investigate when selecting a cloud vendor. The keys are to make sure the firms are compliant with appropriate requirements and will provide sufficient auditing information. Shoppers should ask what continuity plans are in place, how long it will take them to respond in an emergency, the overall cost and where data is physically stored.

Third on the list of lists comes courtesy of ReadWriteWeb. This list looks at mistakes that can be avoided by SMBs. The first is to make sure to identify the problem that needs to be solved before moving to the cloud-it's a big move not to be taken lightly. The next is to test adequately before putting applications in general use. SMBs also should resist the temptation to ignore IT policies and to keep paying attention to costs and operations that shift to the cloud. Finally, make sure the provider offers enterprise-level support.

Last but not least is Dataprise CEO David Eisner's take on the top advantages for SMBs in the cloud. They are reduced cost, automatic updates, remote access, disaster recovery, an equalization of the playing field with enterprises, faster project deployments and the ability to be green. In his personal blog, Eisner elaborates a bit on each point.

The bottom line is that (1) cloud computing is potentially very good for SMBs, (2) there are pitfalls and potential problems for unprepared or careless SMBs jumping into the cloud and (3) careful planning can avoid these problems.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 28, 2011 5:27 PM Phil Simon Phil Simon  says:

Good post. I agree that there's concurrently amazing opportunity and widespread skepticism among old school SMBs inured to doing what they've always done. From morass of mediocrity, smart SMBs will realize significant advantages by embracing emerging tech.


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