Cloud computing has become so common these days that chances are you’re already using it in some capacity. Whether it’s email through Gmail, managing billing using FreshBooks, accounting via Quicken, word processing on Office 365 or customer relationship management using Salesforce, cloud computing delivers a scalable, robust level of service that would otherwise be out of reach for most small business owners.
The cloud is especially attractive to small businesses because it can reduce the time spent on operations, leaving more time to focus on your customers and core competencies. “Cloud removes the need for small business owners to waste time on IT and support activities—which can be frustrating to say the least,” says Alan Quayle, an independent tech and telecom consultant.
But while the benefits of cloud computing are often touted, there’s also a great deal of misunderstanding that challenges owners to make informed decisions about moving forward. Here’s some expert advice to shed light on some of the most common misconceptions about cloud computing.
Myth #1. Cloud infrastructure is expensive.
To start, this is generally not the case. Mike Berger, founder of Sindex Financial Systems, a technology consulting firm focused on investment firms, says he often sees businesses skimping on maintenance and updates when handling IT in-house. Maintaining a server and updating security takes time and resources that many businesses aren’t prepared to dedicate, especially when it’s not part of the core business. “As a small business, it’s hard to hire 25% of a system administrator’s time and 25% of a help-desk specialist’s time and get all that IT expertise on a day-to-day basis,” Berger says.
To weigh the cost efficiency of cloud services, first try monitoring the time people in your business spend on tasks such as backing up drives and fixing email distribution lists. Add to it how much you’re paying for service contracts on servers and how much you pay for hardware upgrades. Then compare that to the cost of cloud services. In most cases, cloud computing reduces the cost and time spent on such tasks.
Myth #2. My data is more secure using onsite servers.
It’s understandable that headline-making data breaches make some small business owners leery of the cloud. However, large-scale cloud providers are the ones most likely to have the state-of-the-art security measures you need and want in the cybersphere. Keep in mind that you spend your day working toward your primary business goals; security of your data is a secondary concern. However, protecting data is the primary business of cloud providers—it’s what they spend all of their time on.
Take Spectrum Business, for example, which encrypts every byte before it leaves your office with military-grade technology and sends it over a secure SSL connection to an industrial-strength data storage facility. These added layers of security are far more extensive than what small business owners can provide on their own servers and go a long way to keeping data safe from prying eyes.
Myth #3. You can set it and forget it.
Working with cloud providers is like working with any other vendor—checking in periodically is important, as is evaluating the quality of the services you receive. For services such as backup, storage or web hosting, you’ll want to monitor how much you’re using so you aren’t buying more than you need.
After that, what helps to create a low-touch relationship with your provider is doing your homework and choosing carefully from the get-go. Make sure your provider has data storage that can scale to your needs, even if those needs grow rapidly as you move forward. And focus on support. Ideally, you’ll get a service-level agreement that specifies response times to any issues. Best advice: Seek out a provider that delivers 24/7 dedicated U.S. support.Print this article