What is holding back the SMB sector from migrating to the cloud? Nick Booth at CloudPro comes up with five reasons why a smaller business may be unsure about moving their infrastructure off-site:
Each of these reasons is a sensible concern for every business and it's important the organisation's IT management and decision makers are confident their cloud provider can address any concerns.
Moving sensitive data to an off-site location is always going to make companies worry about security. SMBs need to make sure their chosen cloud provider has a robust security policy for accessing the data centre, and uses the latest online protection tools.
It is unlikely that many SMBs have on-site security as strong as a professional data centre. This is true both for protection against online attacks, and for the likelihood of a break-in at the company premises.
Can the cloud match the performance of an on-site server? Potentially, yes. A modern data centre, using the latest hardware and virtualisation technologies, will be measurably quicker than an old on-site server for accessing and retrieving information. The bottle-neck usually comes from the SMBs internet structure.
A company relying on slow broadband may find access to the cloud isn't as fast as they would like. For cloud services such as email, slow broadband is still quick enough for the end-user not to notice any delays, however moving large amounts of data may max out the SMBs internet connection. Possible solutions are to improve the broadband infrastructure or use a mixed approach - with the cloud used for email and on-site servers for large files.
Every SMB has to be mindful of costs. Overpaying for services can severely restrict cash-flow and business planning involves making long-term budget decisions. To judge the real cost of the cloud v on-site infrastructure a business must consider all the associated charges.
Using the cloud normally involves a regular monthly, or annual charge. Businesses can plan their budgets far in advance, safe in the knowledge what the costs will be in the long-term (especially if prices have been fixed in the contract). On-site servers may not have the visible fixed monthly fee, but they do come with a lot of associated costs that need to be considered:
- Running costs — Electricity, server space and cooling all have costs associated.
- Licences — Most cloud services include licencing costs as part of their standard charges.
- Maintenance — Servers get old, hard drives wear out. Moving to the cloud means no more maintenance.
- Support — On-site servers don't necessarily come with 24-hour support like the best cloud services do.
There's no doubt moving to the cloud will involve some upheaval. Data needs moving to new servers, MX records and domain details may need changing, and end-users may need their apps updating. Companies will need to carefully plan their cloud migration to eliminate issues, which means the choice of cloud provider is important. Select one with telephone support, or work with a local IT provider who can act as local support, with the cloud supplier providing the infrastructure.
Businesses like flexibility and choice, and worries over being able to change cloud providers in the future is another barrier. In truth moving to the cloud is no more restrictive than using on-site servers. In both cases there can be upheaval when changing systems, and in both cases careful management and the use of migration tools can help ensure the process runs smoothly and give SMBs the ability to change services when appropriate.