Talk of the cloud and the need to adopt a cloud first policy has become ubiquitous, factoring into business directives and smartphone sales alike. The cloud promises seamless updates to newer versions of existing services, and continuously positions itself as the most secure way of future-proofing an organisation.
At Paessler, we wanted to look into the speed of adopting cloud technology: who was doing it first, how they were getting there, and lend an ear to the concerns preventing some from being over? So we launched The Paessler Cloud Acceptance Study, which looked into SME’s attitudes towards cloud technology.
In the past few years, SME’s have safely positioned themselves as the life blood of the UK economy thanks to their inherent agility and steadily growing numbers (small businesses accounted for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses at the start of 2016 and 99.9 per cent were small or medium-sized according to the Federation of Small Businesses). Because they are ‘challenger brands’ in nature, they have also developed a knack for jumping on innovative trends first, and setting the tone for established companies to follow their lead.
Our results painted a clear and favourable picture for small businesses: 70 per cent of SMEs are already using cloud technology or are set to do so in the near future. SMEs are thus “early adopters” once again, not only leading the way in driving the economy forward, but also in spearheading innovation by taking the plunge first and in greater numbers.
According to the data, the biggest barriers to cloud adoption are fear for data security (86 per cent believe it to be an obstacle), the incurring costs of updating entire systems (75 per cent), and a lack of internal knowledge (60 per cent).
For SMEs in particular, these obstacles are no mean feat. The smaller the enterprise the more arduous funding becomes. Fees that could easily be absorbed in bigger firms require careful consideration on behalf of SMEs.
Last but not least, cyber-security is often handled by much smaller teams who do not have the luxury of relying on endless training opportunities and huge resources.
But businesses are already addressing the budget concern by turning to Hybrid Cloud set-ups; that is, an IT structure which mixes workloads and services in the cloud – ‘public cloud’ – with on premise network – ‘private cloud’ – into a mixed network. What’s more, cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft grant you access to round-the-clock teams devoted to your activity, which actually bolsters your security. It also frees you from the time restraints of your IT team, which seldom operates outside business days and working hours.
The trend to move applications and data to the cloud is not just smart marketing from the big three cloud companies (Amazon, Microsoft and Google); it presents clear advantages to any and all businesses: cost, agility, manageability, security.
Here’s more on why adopting the cloud is such a good idea:
It saves time and money
To use a personal example, for several years we have been using cloud-based CDNs to deliver our website content and downloads of our IT monitoring product, which amounts to thousands of trial and update downloads every month. Using it is cheaper than relying on our data centre, faster for customers, and includes free features that would require significant resources to create and maintain.
It increases efficiency
With this tech, businesses can address all of their IT needs remotely, and no longer depend on existing – and limiting – infrastructures or applications. Working, anywhere, anytime is thus licensed, which can curb costs for office space and lead to a more diversified workforce. Further to this, the range of software and IT services that are made available multiply business opportunities and creativity.
It allows you to upscale and diversify
Changing to a ‘cloud first’ strategy forces SMEs to reassess their IT strategy as they decide what is worth keeping and/or storing. This is lifesaving when, for instance, upscaling quickly. Cloud computing combined with BYOD (‘Bring Your Own Device’) are the inevitable way forward, but this also means business practices are set to invariably shift towards more global, diverse and flexible working environments.
The truth is, the cloud will take over most of what we experience as “Internet” and “Networks”. It has already revolutionised the way we conduct business and envision technology. Indeed, your smartphone is a dead brick without the cloud. Cloud-based delivery models are changing the way IT is procured and therefore the way business is conducted, being on the frontline is the key to securing your business’ longevity and ensuring greater productivity if you wish to operate and thrive in the new global economy.
With that in mind, no wonder small businesses are at the forefront of this trend, and it would be less than surprising to see more and more SMEs move their services in large numbers moving forward.
Dirk Paessler is CEO of Paessler, an IT monitoring specialist based in Nuremburg, Germany.