Is the SME market ready for hybrid cloud?

How does the hybrid cloud, an integration of local IT infrastructure with public cloud services, fit into the small business landscape?

Adoption of cloud services and solutions has been a tougher dream to achieve than providers would have you believe, where mistakes can turn into your worst IT nightmare.

So what is the dream? It’s simple: All of the IT capability I need, when I need it, where I need it, and paying only for what I use.

The dream is full of promise, and in some cases, delivers practical, life changing business accelerating benefits.

Imagine having the freedom to shed the capital investments in IT, and invest capital into business driven projects to deliver business growth.

The ability to work anywhere with any device, has completely changed the way we work. We have been freed from the office, and can work more flexibly. Gone are the days where you have to take a day off sick, just because you twist your ankle falling out of bed in the morning. As tempting as the duvet day might be, we all know that the work will build up and make you doubly busy for the next week.

The cloud IT dream

Why then, if the cloud is so great, aren’t we all living the cloud IT dream?

Many organisations who want to take advantage of the cloud find the transition difficult, and those who did are becoming disenchanted with their cloud service providers. There are a number of reasons for this, pricing being a major factor driving 34 per cent of customers to leave their current cloud services, but other factors such as security and a general lack of understanding of SME business requirements are also putting companies off cloud services. With minimal or no IT staff at all, smaller organisations struggle to maintain an in-house IT function, and even struggle to make the right technology decisions without the IT expertise required.

So, the cloud is not the fluffy, welcoming answer to your IT nightmares. It has teeth, and it can bite, leaving scars apparent in many SME owners’ tales of woe: Insufficient internet bandwidth, poor control or lack of visibility to comply with legal and regulatory requirements, little recourse against poor service quality, unforeseen charges, and especially for the SME owner: too small a voice to change things, just to name a few.

It has become clear that the cloud, and more precisely, the public cloud is not the complete answer and not the right place for everything. We need to make smart choices. We need to look at the IT functions, where the IT function is an overall objective performed by an IT solution, such as communication or Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

We need to consider the applications that deliver these IT functions, such as email, instant messaging, Voice over IP (VOIP). Then we can balance the benefit vs risk of the public cloud for each function, and choose where we want to run each of our applications. I would define this as the hybrid cloud: where we use our on-premise (private) cloud when we need more control and locality, then use the public cloud when it makes sense commercially and changes the way we work with a positive impact.

Now, is there a product you can buy to deliver the dream, bringing hybrid cloud into your business? Not exactly, hybrid cloud is not a product, it’s an integration of local IT infrastructure with public cloud services. However, there are products that are well designed to provide easier adoption of a local IT infrastructure integrated with public cloud services.

A simple, affordable and appropriate local IT solution

The objective is simple, a local IT solution that is simple, affordable and appropriate to run the services we don’t want in the public cloud.
For many small businesses this is hard to achieve at small scale and within budget. Something different is needed, something fit for purpose, something with greater autonomy, something that is simple to use without IT skills and experience. We need something that has been designed with the SME in mind, not a scaled down enterprise product.

Until recently there has not been a real solution for SMEs that ticks all of the boxes of cost, simplicity and reliability in order to really benefit from the hybrid cloud approach to IT.

Now with new innovations from companies like HPE, SMEs can have all of these core IT services, ready out of the box, on premise, remotely managed and for a monthly cost of less than a typical day rate for an IT contractor.

SMEs can realise cost savings through public cloud and SaaS services, whilst taking control of a private cloud to deliver cost-effective consistent IT services. SMEs can also release IT resources to deliver business change, not just keeping the lights on. Product such as HPE’s ProLiant Easy Connect make this possible.

These next generation servers provide services, based on a consumption model, that deliver core local IT requirements fully managed and stress free.

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