As the cloud begins to mature, many businesses are ready to take the leap, but don’t know where to start. Security is a primary concern, as is control and accessibility. Businesses need to be assured that cloud app providers have established reputations for reliability and security before making the move. There are a few specific application classes that are noted for their solid reputations and top-notch vendors. SMBs should feel comfortable moving these applications to the cloud, and taking advantage of all the benefits that come with the move.
Email and Email Security
Hosted exchange is already being used by many businesses who entered the cloud before it was called the Cloud. Email architecture has become quite standardized, and there is really no value-add to keeping it inside your firewall other than mitigating regulatory concerns. There are a variety of Exchange vendors with solid reputations who offer high performance and high availability as well as addressing regulatory compliance issues. This is one of the first moves to the cloud a SMB will make.
Even if you do use a hosted email vendor, there is great value in having a cloud vendor perform virus and spam filtering, even if it’s only as a first-line defense. By allowing a third party to perform an initial email scan, SMBs can reduce bandwidth needs dramatically. (Even a small company can have its email servers and network overwhelmed by incoming spam)
SMBs have been using the cloud for web hosting for some time. There is no reason for an SMB to spend big bucks on a dedicated server when vendors offer affordable hosting as well as guaranteed uptime and reduced security risk.
Video Conferencing Software
For a low cost, SMBs can have the experts deal with setting up and maintaining conferencing software, so your IT staff can deal with more important issues. Like email, there is no significant benefit to locating this in-house.
CRM is an essential application, much like email, it must be accessible from anywhere, at anytime. There are several proven, low-cost CRM applications available to SMBs. Moving CRM to the cloud will help save bandwidth and overhead.
Batch Processing Software
One type of application that shines in the cloud are batch processing applications, according to Tech Republic’s Justin James. “As long as you can get the data needed into the cloud without disrupting your operations, the ability to rapidly scale capacity in the cloud can result in tremendous savings. For example, if you need 15 servers’ worth of computing capacity for a once-per-week job, do you really want to have 15 servers sitting idle in your server room waiting for that? Or would you rather just modify the task to start 15 cloud instances, run the process, and shut them down again? In a scenario like this, it is clear that cloud computing can deliver significant advantages.”
Basic Office Applications
There are vendors out there offering apps for SMBs that the businesses didn’t even know they needed. These applications are worth looking at as they can save SMBs serious time and money by streamlining businesses processes and freeing up IT staff to deal with bigger issues. It is important to note that these apps should be carefully vetted by your IT partner before they are implemented.
Curious about the Cloud? Join Us for our Cloud 101 Lunch & Learn
ACE IT Solutions’ Cloud 101 Lunch and Learn will be held on July 27, 2011 from 12 pm – 2 pm. Please contact us if you are interested in attending and we’ll get you all the details you need to know. To register, call ACE IT Solutions at 908-704-0400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is open to all SMBs.