On the IronOrbit blog we have already discussed the general advantages of cloud computing over on-site IT infrastructures. To review, the Cloud turns fragmented and limited-resource stationary IT systems into centralized and mobilized fully-scalable computing resources. It also minimizes costs and maximizes security and availability.
Today we will discuss the benefits of cloud computing that are specific to small and medium sized businesses. First, we should consider what makes SMBs different from other businesses and organizations. The authoritative US Small Business Administration defines a small business as a company with less than 500 employees or that averages yearly revenues less than $7 million. Technical definitions aside, the relatively small size of SMBS influences their culture, business practices, and IT infrastructure. Some SMBs take advantage of external contractors and cheap IT alternatives to compensate for their modest budgets. Others, attempting to maximize their existing assets, prefer to keep every position and duty in-house. In comparison to large organizations, all SMBs require fairly simple and diminutive IT infrastructures. SMBs that rely heavily on contractors or that need to interact with a large number of customers require a network built for external communication, unlike large enterprises that have an equally high volume of internal collaboration.
The Cloud benefits large organizations by allowing them to consolidate their myriad computing resources and networks. The average number of offices or “establishments” of enterprises with 500+ employees, according to the US Census Bureau, adds up to more than 60. Before the Cloud, large enterprises would have to install on-site IT infrastructures at all the 60 or more locations. Cloud computing allows them to securely host data and applications off-site with only “thin clients” remaining on-site. It also allows big businesses to centralize and possible downsize their hordes of IT support staff.
In contrast, the benefits of the cloud for SMBs can often be greater and more relevant to the core operations of their businesses. The low cost of cloud hosting lets SMBs that could not afford to build their own on-site IT infrastructure rent a virtualized system from an external provider. SMBs that had to limit their business operations because of low processing power or storage space can add these computing resources on-demand with the Cloud. Additionally, cloud computing makes it easier for SMBs to share data and collaborate with external partners and contractors. And for SMBs without even a single office the Cloud can serve as a digital headquarters.
SMBs stand to benefit the most when they outsource their IT infrastructure to a cloud hosting provider. Hosting providers have all the hardware and software already in place. They also have years of experience designing, building, and managing clouds. Some SMBs have a DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality and blanch at the idea of hosting their data on the servers of an external company. But they would save more money and receive better performance from their IT infrastructure if they trusted their systems to an external IT services provider with a reputation for security and reliability.
IronOrbit designs, builds, and manages private and hybrid clouds for SMBs. As a medium-sized business, we understand the unique requirements and preferences of SMBs first-hand. In fact, we successfully operate our business on our very own cloud platforms. With 15 years’ experience providing hosting services, you can trust IronOrbit to deliver you a secure IT infrastructure with enterprise-sized benefits.