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A cloud primer: why SMEs need it
Home > A cloud primer: why SMEs need it

A cloud primer: why SMEs need it

16 November, 2022
Growing a start-up or small business is challenging enough without having to worry about building and managing a complex IT infrastructure too. But at the same time, no new business can afford not to be digital.

Digital businesses are agile, cost-effective to run, and can be automated and made available 24/7. With all your processes digitised, your business can leapfrog more established businesses which may still have legacy, paper-based processes that slow them down and add to their costs of doing business.

So, how can a start-up or SME become a digital business without the costs and resources involved in managing on-premises IT infrastructure? It’s simple – go cloud.

What is the cloud?

In a nutshell, the cloud refers to internet-based infrastructure and services. It’s like using someone else’s computing resources and only paying for what you use. Google, with Gmail and Google Drive, are good examples.

Organisations can choose between private clouds – in which they have dedicated capacity hosted in a data centre; public cloud – in which they share resources, or hybrid models – in which they apportion data and workloads to clouds and infrastructure best suited to their needs.

In recent years, the hosted and public cloud services available to businesses have come a long way – now you can cherry-pick the models, tools, service levels and pricing that suits your business.

What does cloud computing offer business?

Cloud-based infrastructure is securely off-site, so you and your staff can access it from anywhere, on any device, as long as you have an internet connection. Because cloud data centres make provision for backup power, load shedding won’t stall your business. And because cloud data centres are highly secure, you don’t have to worry about losing important data should your server or laptop fail or be stolen.

When you and your team can access your tools and information from anywhere, you can work from anywhere, without having to invest in office space.

Every business tool or application your business might need is available in the cloud in an as-a-service model – from communications and collaboration tools and office tools to specialised payroll, ERP or design solutions. This means you pay a subscription to access and use the software without having to buy it, download it and keep it updated yourself. Because it’s in the cloud, the solution provider updates it automatically.

A word of caution

Because the cloud is so convenient and services are so easy to provision, it’s easy for cloud costs to get out of control. Building and managing a cloud environment should be approached strategically.

For example, you’ll need to consider what data and applications you’ll need daily and store those in the higher-priced, highly available cloud environments, while archive data might be better suited to lower-cost environments.

The hybrid multi-cloud trend

Many organisations use a hybrid multi-cloud model to get the best services for their needs. You can use the services on a mix of public or private clouds, as well as on multiple public and private clouds. You could use provider A for their excellent storage options, provider B for ERP, and provider C for accounting and some of your networking. You might even opt to keep some critical data on-site.

To plan and execute an optimal environment, it’s a good idea to work with an expert partner or systems integrator to deploy workloads to various cloud providers to achieve a mix that meets your needs exactly, at the right price point and with optimal service levels.



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