Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are always looking for the optimum way to implement technology within their organizations be it from a technical, financial or personal perspective. Technology solutions can be delivered using one of three common models: as on-premise solutions (i.e. installed on company premises), hosted services (handled by an external third party) or a mix of both. Let's take a look at the cloud-based solutions in this brief post.
When talking about a hosted service, we are referring to a delivery model which enables SMEs to make the most out of the latest technology through a third party. Cloud-based solutions or services are gaining in popularity as an alternative strategy for businesses , especially for startups and small businesses, particularly when considering the three reasons below:
Financial – Startups and very small SMEs often find it financially difficult to set up the infrastructure and IT system required when they are starting or still building the business. The additional cost to build an IT infrastructure and recruit IT personnel is at times too high and not a priority IT when they just need email and office tools. In such scenario a hosted service makes sense because the company can depend on a third party to provide additional services, such as archiving and email filtering, at a monthly cost. This reduces costs and allows the business to focus on other important areas requiring investment. As the business grows, the IT needs of that company will dictate to what extent a hosted or managed service is necessary and cost-effective.
Build your business – The cost saving aspect is particularly important for those businesses that require a basic IT infrastructure but it still want to benefit from security and operational efficiency without spending any money. Hosted / managed services give companies the option to test and try technologies before deciding whether they need to move their IT in-house or leave it in the hands of third parties.
Pay-as-you-go or rental basis – Instead of investing heavily in IT hardware, software and personnel, a pay-per-use or subscription system makes more sense. Companies choosing this delivery model would do well, however, to read contractual agreements carefully. Many vendors/providers tie in customers for two or three years, which may be just right for a startup SME, but companies should look closely at any associated costs if they decide to stop the service and at whether migrating their data will prove a very costly affair. The key to choosing a hosted or managed service is to do one's homework and plan well. Not all companies will find a cloud-based service to be suitable even if the cost structure appears to be attractive.
Are there any drawbacks to this system?
Despite all the advantages mentioned above, some SMEs are still apprehensive when it comes to cloud-based solutions because they are concerned about their data's security. Although an important consideration, a quality cloud-based provider will have invested heavily in security and, more often than not, in systems that are beyond what a small business can afford to implement. A good provider will have invested in multiple backup locations, 24/7 monitoring, physical security to protect sites, and more.
On the other hand, the fact that the data would be exposed to third parties and not handled internally could be seen as a drawback by some companies, especially those handling sensitive data. As stated earlier, beware of the fine print and medium- to long-term costs before committing.
If you're a server-hugger and need to have that all-important server close to your office, businesses can always combine their on-premise solution with a hosted or managed service – benefiting from the advantages and doing away with the inherent disadvantages.
Every company is different and whether you decide to go for a cloud-based solution or not, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong – it's all a matter of what your current business's infrastructure is like and your needs at the time. However, if you are a startup or a small business, cloud-based solutions are an attractive option worth taking into consideration.
This guest post was provided by GFI Software Ltd. For more information visit GFI business backup solution