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Cloud Computing for SMBs: Avoiding Pitfalls and Maximizing Benefits

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According to the 2013 Small Business Technology Survey from the National Small Business Association, small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are embracing cloud computing and mobility while recognizing the business value that new technology brings to their organizations. The survey of small business owners revealed:

  • 43 percent use cloud computing vs. five percent in 2010.
  • 74 percent use smartphones vs. 57 percent in 2010.
  • 41 percent use tablets, which first hit the market in 2010 with the release of the iPad.
  • 97 percent believe their organization’s success is tied to keeping up with the latest technology.

SMBs are moving to the cloud because it represents a practical, commonsense business solution. Rather than building and managing an in-house IT infrastructure, you can use a service provider’s enterprise-class hardware, software, applications and tools, which most SMBs would never be able to afford. Cloud computing allows you to leverage the provider’s investments in the latest technology instead of buying it yourself.

IT provisioning and management become the responsibility of the service provider, who has the expertise and resources to ensure optimal network performance, availability and security. Essentially, a cloud computing model removes the burden of owning and maintaining an IT infrastructure so you can focus on running your business. Buy the services you need and scale up or down according to your business requirements.

While you devote your time to strategic business initiatives, your service provider will monitor your network, make all necessary hardware and software upgrades, seamlessly deploy new applications and services, and guard against security threats and data loss.

Even if disaster strikes, your data and applications will be protected and accessible thanks to the provider’s data backup and disaster recovery planning. The state-of-the-art data center where the provider hosts your data and applications will have redundant and backup power and redundant Internet connectivity to protect against downtime.

Despite the proven business advantages of cloud computing, you don’t want to simply move everything to the cloud and assume all of your problems will be solved immediately. Cloud computing requires a strategic approach that will optimize IT resources and enhance business processes.

Many IT functions can be seamlessly migrated to the cloud and will perform very well. These include email and email security, collaboration and conferencing tools, telephone systems, Internet and video hosting, customer relationship management (CRM), and data backup and disaster recovery.

On the other hand, certain applications are best kept in-house. Core business applications that demand the highest levels of performance can be accessed more quickly through your local network than the internet. There’s no reason to move legacy or custom applications that you don’t plan to update, or industry-specific applications that are only compatible with certain technology.

Let ICG assess your existing IT infrastructure to determine if your company is cloud-ready and help you develop a cloud computing strategy that reduces costs, boosts performance and improves security.

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