Cloud vs. Office IT: Infrastructure for SMBs

Latest reply: Feb 14, 2016 15:11:51 2926 1 0 0

| By Dr. John Waclawsky, Senior Systems Architect; Dr. George Vanecek, Senior Principal Architect, Center for Innovations, Futurewei Technologies

For many SMBs, a viable alternative to the traditional buy-manage-and-maintain in-house IT service model is now available. The most logical solution for many SMBs is to migrate entirely to cloud-based solutions.>>

SMBs: An Often Underserved — But Important — Entrepreneurial Group

Delivering IT services to small and medium businesses — enterprises of up to 500 employees — is an enormously important endeavor. Huawei estimates that there are 150 million Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) worldwide, and their total IT spending will easily exceed US$500 billion this year. Until recently, SMBs have been largely ignored by IT vendors, largely because a ten-person startup has little in common with a US$100 million corporation. Current IT is far too complex and costly for most SMBs, both in terms of staff and equipment. Only 8 percent of all SMBs — roughly 10 million — use IT in a meaningful way.

Cloud Infrastructure Accelerating Positive Change for SMBs

Enormous technological change is driving social and business collaboration in new technology usage patterns that are centered on mobility and fundamental human wants and needs. Wider bandwidths in wire and cable media have tremendously amplified the capacity of core and peripheral networks. The trend toward accelerating wireless speeds (4G and 802.11n) also shows no sign of slowing down, which only adds to the fray. Connectivity needs have exploded. The Internet can be accessed almost anywhere via various mobile technologies such as WiMAX, 3G, NFC, UWB, LTE, Bluetooth, and various flavors of 802.11.

As the price per bit for communications plummets, speeds increase, connectivity expands, and remote infrastructure is now viable without a significant drop in network performance. Smart mobile devices can effectively create a personal WAN with enterprise-caliber access to applications. This powerful combination of mobility and connectivity will inevitably push IT hardware infrastructure into the Cloud.

Cloud-based Delivery Meets SMB Needs

Cloud-based delivery solves many problems that SMBs routinely face. For example, most SMBs are staffed by IT novices who typically have many responsibilities within their organizations. However, as long as SMBs are purchasing products to be installed and maintained in-house, they cannot eliminate up-front hardware investments or the costs of labor-intensive configuration of multi-purpose devices and service delivery.

And of course, when SMBs choose to buy and service their own office solutions, the owners can rarely count on assistance from their vendors. SMB owners have to pay to acquire equipment and recruit people to install, configure, manage and operate the hardware and embedded software involved for generating IT services, a major resource drain away from the firm's focus and core competencies.

The most logical solution for many SMBs is to migrate entirely to cloud-based solutions. In addition to solving the host of problems just described, businesses that adopt VoIP delivered from the cloud — rather than through traditional means — eliminate the need for large initial voice service expenditures and get greater flexibility and scalability in return.

Hosting: Office vs. the Cloud

Still, many SMB owners and managers are reluctant to embrace the cloud model. The reasons are often psychological: Such a change requires a choice between satisfying the instinctive need to reach out and touch vital hardware, or letting go and using hosted apps and laptop computers.

But comfort considerations aside, the decision is really about where to host your critical business applications, while satisfying concerns about availability, security, interoperability, data portability, and costs. Internet access is becoming truly constant, faster, ubiquitous, more reliable; always-on connections are becoming the norm. The substantial savings realized by using hosted applications is also the reason why SMBs should choose the cloud.

Because business services can now be effectively offered over the Internet and are often accessed through web browsers, they rarely conflict with a company's existing business technology. The primary benefits of cloud-based infrastructure are reduced costs, almost instant deployment, simplified maintenance, and reduced administration. And of course, for seasonal businesses or those with flexible staffing needs, cloud-based processing and on-demand storage are all the more viable and valuable.

Security: Office vs. the Cloud

Maintaining security involves solving a large, expensive, and difficult set of problems. Most SMBs cannot possibly hope to match the skills of a professional, cloud-based security solution managed by a large number of experts that focus full-time on security and deploy the latest measures.

And even if they could, cloud-based technology is rapidly evolving. Providers are making substantial investments in security technologies, skills, certifications, and auditing techniques. A multi-tenant cloud architecture allows the smallest of SMBs to enjoy the same level of security as those with the highest security resources, putting them on a level playing field with their larger compe***s.

Why Choose the Cloud?

Cloud-based services leave businesses free to focus on their core operations. Only the most tech-savvy SMBs can afford to stick with in-house hardware, since a viable alternative to the traditional buy-manage-and-maintain in-house IT service model is now available. Cloud-based services reduce IT service costs by 30 to 50 percent, while lowering the employee learning curve and minimizing equipment investments. Many providers already offer more than 99% availability, and services can be bought or discontinued with minimum hassle. Cloud computing is also future-proof, because it is up to the ASP or service provider to keep infrastructure up-to-date and disaster-resistant. Plus, due to geographical distribution and diversity, a provider's equipment is more likely to withstand a natural disaster than a single SMB location.

It is a waste for small companies to use scarce capital to fund IT infrastructure, associated in-house hardware and software, and expensive client-server applications. The cloud can deliver the latest business services conveniently, securely, and inexpensively, while going a long way to help SMBs level the playing field with their bigger compe***s. ▲

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Created Feb 14, 2016 15:11:51 Helpful(0) Helpful(0)

Nice Information! Absolutely cloud base service is getting important regardless of large enterprise or even small organization. I have earlier made use of Ahsay for local, online and cloud backup. I had a good experience with Ahsay as an online backup tool as it allowed me to run virtualized backup server on the public clouds also. Thereby I need not have to anymore worry about maintaining any server and storage hardware.

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