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Cloud Computing for SMBs: Understanding IaaS

Most small-to-midsize business owners are aware of cloud computing and recognize the business benefits. However, many SMBs have a limited understanding of the models for delivering cloud computing solutions. The most straightforward and fastest-growing cloud computing delivery model is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

What is IaaS?

IaaS is the virtual delivery of IT infrastructure to an organization by a service provider, who is responsible for purchasing, managing and maintaining the technology. Essentially, the organization outsources IT equipment, including hardware, servers, networking, storage and other computing resources, rather than buying, installing and configuring this technology in-house. In an IaaS model, the organization can run any necessary software on this equipment and typically maintains control of operating systems and applications.

What are the pros and cons of IaaS?

The most appealing benefit of IaaS to budget-conscious SMBs is the cost. There is no upfront capital expense and no need to hire and train in-house IT personnel. Cloud computing can be extremely cost-efficient because you pay only for what you need. The cost for powering and cooling an in-house datacenter is also dramatically reduced.

A service provider can offer access to enterprise-class equipment and security solutions that are constantly monitored by the provider’s IT team. This leads to better network reliability and performance, which in turn leads to improved employee productivity. Additional resources can be quickly allocated and deployed, making it easy to scale as the organization grows without purchasing new equipment or expanding the IT department.

The cons of IaaS are centered on third-party control of corporate data. Organizations need a reliable, internet connection to access data and should provide a backup connection in case of an outage. Because data is no longer kept in-house, you also must rely upon the service provider to store and secure sensitive information. While security is improved with an IaaS model, onsite security still must be addressed, especially in a bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, environment.

Why is it important to partner with a local technology provider?

While IaaS is typically a turnkey solution, the implementation of cloud computing involves more than flipping a switch. You need to know how much of your existing IT infrastructure can be leveraged to keep costs down. You need to trust your provider to prevent data loss, corruption and security breaches. You need to know that your network performance and reliability won’t be compromised. You should be able to see exactly how an IaaS solution will affect your bottom line.

A local provider can visit your place of business, sit down with you face-to-face, and address each of these concerns. In fact, a recent study revealed that 82 percent of SMBs believe it’s critical or important for a provider of cloud computing services to have a local presence.

ICG specializes in bringing the benefits of cloud computing to SMBs. Let us help you determine if IaaS is right for your organization and implement a solution that lowers costs and improves how you do business.