Six Reasons Small Business Should Go Cloud
As a small business going to the cloud can be a bit intimidating, which is why only about a third of SMBs are there today. However, analysts are predicting that over three quarters of U.S. small businesses will fully adopt the cloud by 2020.
How can analysts be so confident all these small businesses will embrace the cloud in such a short period of time? The answer lies in the benefits the cloud offers small businesses. These benefits are simply too good to reasonably expect anything else to happen.
Much has been written about how cloud computing benefits small business. This article explores the top six reasons a small business cloud transition is inevitable.
Every small business wishes they had the data center and bandwidth of the big guys. The reality is that small businesses can’t afford the real-estate, servers, software, and IT support, and most operate out of a poorly ventilated closet. Even worse, most small businesses under-invest in cyber security and even physical security making their business vulnerable to hackers.
Those small businesses that bite the bullet and invest in infrastructure find themselves eighteen months down the road staring at significant upgrade costs just to maintain current hardware and software. It’s a never ending cycle that breaks the back of the average small business until the cloud arrived.
The cloud enables a small business to have a world-class infrastructure a fraction of what it would cost to build it yourself. Not only does the cloud make a state-of-the-art infrastructure affordable it comes with an IT staff to upgrade and maintain it, so you don’t have to.
Instead of purchasing QuickBooks, a server to run it on, and dedicating space and staff to it you can simply buy a subscription for less than $20/month. Would you rather spend $2,000 up front and at least a third of that every year for maintenance or get a cloud subscription for $20/month? This cost equation is so compelling that it alone is a reason the analysts predict every small business will head in this direction.
Most small businesses don’t plan on staying small forever. Startups always dream of their business taking off overnight. So what happens if my business suddenly hits the big time and demand goes through the roof? Can I rely on my cloud provider to devote the resources necessary to stay up with demand? Will I be a priority for them, or am I just a small fish in a big pond?
Scalability was one of the first challenges cloud providers needed to overcome. The reality is that Amazon Web Services (AWS) went from a startup to a $3B business in only a couple of years. They wouldn’t have been able to do this if they couldn’t scale.
One of the cool services AWS offers is something called “Elastic Beanstalk.” It is an infrastructure that automatically scales up as demand for your application increases. If today you have only a few people on your website and suddenly a thousand show up all at one time, the system will scale up automatically to deal with the demand. It also scales down at times when there is low demand.
You could never build a system like this on a small business budget, let alone staff it. The reality is scalability is built into the cloud delivery model.
Every day we seem to hear about the latest major security breach on the news. Strangely, this gives many small businesses comfort that cyber criminals are focused on the big guys. As proof, a recent study showed that 95% of small businesses don’t invest in cyber security insurance because they don’t believe they are a target.
The reality is that cyber criminals prey on the vulnerable. Over 90% of data breaches are in small businesses. 60% of small businesses fail within a year of a major data breach. Smaller crimes also attract much less attention from law enforcements, so cyber criminals have learned that it is better to steal a little from a lot of people than a lot from one place.
Security both physical and cyber can be very expensive. The cloud spreads this cost across all customers and makes it affordable. Cloud customers get state of the art physical and cyber security at a fraction of what it would cost them to implement the same thing on their own. It also eliminates the IT burden that comes with keeping security software current.
ver the last five years much of the software small businesses use has been migrated to the cloud. As the vendors did this migration they upgraded their technical foundations with integration in mind. The key systems small businesses need to work together generally have pre-existing integrations available in either an App store model or from the vendor’s websites.
As the vendors upgraded their platforms for the cloud most provided APIs. With the APIs a developer can integrate solutions together much easier than in the past.
Between Apps and APIs small businesses are finding it is much easier to get key systems to work together. It is also easier to create the customizations necessary to make your business go.
Flexibility in the cloud comes in many shapes and sizes. For instance, small businesses find that the cloud makes for a more mobile workforce. The beauty of the cloud is that you can access your software anywhere you have an internet connection, so you’re no longer tied to the office.
As mentioned in the section above the cloud is also more flexible because it makes it easier to get systems to work together. This can be done through Apps or through custom development, but it is generally easier and more flexible than the delivery methods of the past.
Last but not least, the cloud offers more flexible billing models. Instead of paying for a software license up front and then ongoing maintenance, you generally pay a monthly subscription. Many of the vendors don’t require long term commitments which creates the ultimate in flexibility.
Most small businesses know they need to back-up their systems, but few actually do it with the regularity required to recover from a disaster. It also isn’t unusual to find backups stored in the same location as the system being backed up. Small businesses often find themselves needing to prove they have a disaster recovery plan in place to win bids. Many have plans on paper, but few have fully implemented the plans.
When using cloud solutions disaster recovery is typically baked in as part of the solution. Most cloud vendors have completely redundant infrastructures that can be switched on at a moment’s notice should disaster strike. These plans are also well documented giving small businesses the proof you’ll need to win bids and assure customers and partners that your business will survive any disaster.
Not every cloud solution offers all six of the items listed above, but most do. The cloud enables small business to have the infrastructure of a large enterprise at an affordable cost. This is why so many small businesses are migrating to the cloud.