October is Small Business Month in Canada, and one area that is crucial to the success of small businesses is having in place the right technology structure that caters to the needs of a smaller operation.
The question that comes up time and again for many small businesses is where or how to host sensitive data, platforms, and applications. This is a decision that will impact everything from security to a company’s bottom line.
Modern hosting, and, more specifically, cloud computing, is a means for storing data in a location other than the business’ facilities. The many benefits of a cloud infrastructure include increased flexibility, collaboration, disaster recovery, and competitiveness, not to mention the positive environment impacts. For these reasons, adopting a cloud system makes a lot of sense for Canadian small businesses, but many Canadians have been slow to make the move.
In fact, Canada is lagging behind in cloud adoption. In 2013, IDC estimated that Canadian adoption was 10 per cent behind the United States, and Canada ranked ninth out of 24 countries in the BSA Software Alliance’s Global Cloud Computing Scorecard from that same year. More specifically, Canadian SMB’s cloud consumption is ranked third lowest ahead of only Russia and Germany according to Amdocs SMB survey, conducted by Coleman Parkes Research in 2014.
Many businesses are ahead of the curve and are exploring shifting to the cloud. As these businesses consider moving some or part of their operations to the cloud, there are a few key factors that are still causing un-due concern. Cogeco Data Services and Peer 1 Hosting encourage businesses to take a closer look at the top fears associated with the cost, security and migration to the cloud.
Cost of Change
The bottom line for small businesses depends on increasing revenues and cutting expenses.
If used properly, modern hosting platforms can contribute directly to the bottom line through savings. The old model involved buying servers, routers, and storage equipment. It meant expensive software that ran in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, plus the cost of updates.
With cloud computing, small businesses can limit the risk and financial impact by renting these resources and having the system managed off site. Plus, the scalability provided by cloud means businesses will always have the right amount of storage and this system is typically pay as you go. This limits project start-up costs and provides predictable operating expenses.
Level of Security
A responsible business should always be concerned with online security and moving systems over to the cloud gives many business owners pause. However, the cloud is a safe computing platform, and a reputable cloud vendor will offer a much higher level of security than what can be achieved in-house by most small businesses.
With a reputable vendor, there are frequent redundancies in place – redundancies a small business can’t generally afford to build on its own. A thorough review of the vendor’s Service Agreement will inform a business owner about important factors such as back up plans, redundancies, and how emergencies are handled.
Transitioning to the cloud, for many business owners and employees, comes back to a fear of the unknown; it can be intimidating to take the most important components of a business and shift them into unfamiliar territory. This is true not just for the physical transition of data to the cloud – which can be surprisingly smooth, if well-assessed and strategic – but also training employees to learn the cloud, updating everyday procedures and best practices to reflect the migration, and considering any other practice within the business that might be affected.
For many it seems too daunting a task to take on, but at a point it becomes what is necessary for the business to not only be secure and effective, but for it to stay relevant and thrive in today’s tech-savvy marketplace. Therefore, being well-informed, strategic, thorough and highly involved in the transition will take away the nights of lost sleep for business owners, knowing that they are in control and doing what’s best for their company in the long run.
Shifting key elements of a business’ technology structure is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, placing un-due concern on factors such as cost, security, and migration may be hindering small businesses’ willingness to make the switch to the cloud and in turn reap the benefits that this system can offer.