How cloud solutions can help SMEs

Cloud solutions offer many economic and security advantages for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As data and applications are hosted remotely, cloud solutions reduce the cost and burden of routine maintenance as well as hardware and software acquisition. The flexibility, scalability, easy accessibility and pay-per-use models of cloud solutions eliminate the high costs and rigid systems of on-premise equipments.

SMEs will be able to increase and decrease the computing resources required according to their fluctuating business needs and those of their employees. With the continuous evolution in software development, companies would also save more in the long run; the need to purchase costly equipment and software upgrades is removed as the latter happens automatically in the cloud. More importantly, cloud-based services can be scaled on demand, which in other words means pay-per-use, a model in which companies would only pay for the IT services they use. In addition, they would be able to lower their IT expenditures, by turning capital expense (CAPEX) into operational expenses (OPEX), preventing the need for heavy investments in applications, IT personnel or equipment.

Business continuity is another benefit of migrating to the Cloud, especially with today’s rising rents and many SMEs considering using co-working spaces (to cut down costs without disrupting daily operations). Moving towards a cloud-based system allows employees, with an internet connection, to access all files and documents remotely. Cloud services can be accessed anywhere, and on any mobile device - smart phones, desktops, laptops, etc.

3 tips before committing to cloud solutions.

1. Evaluating your company’s IT needs

Cloud solutions come in various forms. Besides computing infrastructure and platforms, there are many application modules available, such as sales tools, office software, customer relationship management (CRM) software, human resources software, payroll software as well as collaborative working tools.

With all these choices, it is important to break down the needs of the business to make an informed decision on the type that you require. Choosing the right cloud solutions would improve the ease of functionality, daily operations as well as integration and the transition from physical to cloud server.

2. Choosing the right cloud service provider

Like all decision making, it is essential to take the time to understand the various terms and conditions that come with the service. There are several criteria that you can use to evaluate a service provider, from performance to support to security. These include data protection, location of servers, business continuity in the event of service downtime, service type, flexibility in terms of upgrading or downgrading, as well as pricing.

It is equally important, especially for SMEs, to engage a reliable service provider that can deliver a smooth , successful and of an efficient collaborative cloud system. Pick one who can understand and meet the needs and requirements of your company, and anticipate possible challenges in order to recommend the best-fit solutions.

3. Understanding your data protection and cyber security needs

The choice of service provider also has an impact on the security functions of your cloud data software. The main risks to data protection during cloud migration include, loss of data by third-party service providers, unauthorised access to your data, malicious activities including hacking or viruses, and poor internal IT security that compromises data protection.

Different industries have different security needs. By analysing your company’s needs, you would be able to make sound decisions to ensure that your chosen provider meets all your security requirements.

Different cloud solutions catering to various needs

There are three categories of cloud services available today,

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): This model provides the computing infrastructure, physical or virtual machines and other resources. Examples: Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine.

  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): This model provides the computing platforms which typically includes operating system, program/software development environment, database, web server, etc. Examples: Windows Azure, Apache Stratos

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): This model provides access to on-demand software and applications. Examples : Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365

Holistic approach to your cloud transformation journey

Some cloud service providers employ a one-service-fits-all approach. Gleaned from industry knowledge and experience, ours comes from the realisation that the essence of a successful cloud transformation journey is a holistic approach, where we help and consult companies in planning, implementing, transitioning or migrating, and integrating into a full or hybrid cloud environment that best fits your business purposes and timeline. We believe in providing industry-focused cloud services that help save costs and eliminate anticipated challenges, solutions that would enhance user experience and optimise business values.

- CJ Ong, CEO, Cloudaron Group -