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The Different Types of Clouds for SMBs

8 Oct 2014 by Brigitte Yuille

Cloud computing offers small and medium businesses, or SMBs, the chance to compete with large businesses on a level playing field.

The advantages of cloud computing services

The different types of cloud services ease costs, so SMBs can streamline their business. Cloud computing occurs online by offering a centralized location to encrypt and store information. This lets SMBs stop purchasing hard drives and memory upgrades and producing multiple backups. It reduces SMBs reliance on physical hardware, and this lessens maintenance, repairs and other technological investments that rack up time and money. It rids the business operations of complexities, increases productivity and makes the business more agile.

Cloud computing gives SMBs the opportunity to innovate. Many of them operate without an IT department and may outsource their storage and data. The cloud lets midsize companies add or test new applications or processes without having an IT infrastructure. In addition, cloud computing adapts to the business’ growth. SMBs can create accessible workspaces that staff, clients and suppliers can access at any time and any place, and this leverages the skills of its team. SMBs can acquire cloud service through third party providers at a low and often predictable cost.

Choosing the right cloud services to meet your goals

Cloud solution spending for SMBs is expected to grow almost 20 percent annually over the next five years, according to the IDC’s Market Spotlight “Cloud Computing in the Midmarket: Assessing the Options in 2013,” and SMBs have several types of cloud services to choose from.

IT analysts have found that SMBs have increased their interest in the public cloud. The global consulting firm AMI- Partners’ 2013 US Information and Communication Technology survey found that 43% of the SMBs in the US feel the public cloud is adequate for their business needs. Public clouds are more convenient for small businesses because it is hosted, managed and maintained by a third-party service. Three in ten midsize firms plan to implement public solutions throughout this year alone.

A private cloud allows for the sharing of resources within a more secure environment. It benefits SMBs that have internal IT resources and it maintains sensitive data. This cloud requires a high-level of expertise because it is deployed on the company’s network by the internal IT staff; therefore, it is more expensive and their launch takes longer. Private cloud services are generally used by large companies, but more vendors are recognizing the demand for this platform among SMBs. Some vendors that are already offering solutions include Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and VMware, according to AMI-Partners. According to the IDC, two in ten midsize firms plan to add midsize cloud solutions this year.

SMBs can also take advantage of hybrid cloud services. This is a flexible solution for SMBs because it combines both the private and public platforms. SMBs benefit from the cost-effectiveness of the public cloud and bypass security issues with the private cloud. An increasing number of SMBs are calling for cloud customization, which means more cloud service providers are likely to offer a hybrid solutions in the near future. Current vendors include McAfee and Websense.

SMBs concerned about security should look for a third-party providers who explain and are committed to their security measures. For instance, Microsoft Office 365 has the “Trust Center.” Integration and interoperability has challenged some SMBs; therefore, it’s important to find vendors who offer additional training and support.