How Small Businesses Can Approach Cloud Computing

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Moving your small business to the cloud provides benefits, but also takes up valuable time and resources.

Cloud solutions offer IT infrastructure with new levels of scale, speed, and security that help support small businesses operations in the digital age.

More than half of small to mid-size businesses budget for cloud computing, according to Capterra.

Implementing a cloud solution isn’t always smooth, though. It incurs a monthly fee, disrupts daily operations, and adds to expenses.

If done well, though, a switch to the cloud can be a smooth and cost-effective process.

Small businesses can use this article to learn how to transition to cloud computing in order to reduce the strain on budget, staff, and customers over time.

1. Identify Your Needs: SaaS versus IaaS

SaaS vs IaaSSource: Pixabay

Cloud computing solutions come in various forms, some of which you may already use.

For example, Google Docs and Dropbox are both examples of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions and services providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) host configured hardware and software platforms and provide access to selected features via a virtual interface.

IaaS systems provide access to a suite of features such as data security, storage, and app development for a monthly fee, without investing in servers or hardware of your own.

As an example, say you’re a property management company looking to scale. Migrating to an IaaS solution would allow you to:

  • Centralize customer data
  • Grant employees access to customer data from any portal
  • Bolster your operation with a range of customized and integrated apps

For large and long-term objectives, these functionalities can be invaluable.

But what if your company only wants to do away with paper receipts and execute an email marketing campaign?

A handful of SaaS solutions can deliver the same functionality without the hassle of moving your data to the cloud or having access to a bevy of IaaS features and tools you don’t need.

As reported by SmallBizTrends, nearly one-third of businesses use five or more SaaS applications or other cloud-based services.

As you approach cloud computing, think of IaaS as a toolbox and SaaS as a single tool for cloud storage and services.

Do you have the budget, the time, and the need for a full toolbox? Or would an array of SaaS services better suit your goals with less headache and expense?

2. Calculate Costs

Cloud solutions offer pay-as-you-go access to virtual machines. The monthly expense of cloud computing, however, can be hard to calculate accurately.

Computing and bandwidth are the main costs for an IaaS subscription, but estimating the data, storage, and memory you need can be challenging.

As a result, many businesses waste cloud spending and eventually abandon their cloud solution due to unforeseen bills, according to a survey from RightScale.

Audit your IT services to determine the full cost of migrating to the cloud. Compare these costs to the predicted costs for cloud services, such as memory, bandwidth, and computing.

Data costsSource: Pixabay

Be sure to include the indirect costs associated with transitioning, such as:

●Downtime

●Training

●Data backups

●Customer-facing disruptions

You can use a cloud cost calculator – most cloud services offer them – to help you determine your expenses and to prevent loss.

RightScale’s survey indicates a few small businesses can optimize their cloud costs:

  • Shutting down operations during non-work hours
  • Organizing data through tagging
  • Setting expiration dates for workloads

For small businesses, it’s essential to choose a cloud solution that offers the right functionality but also enables data usage you can afford.

Critically examine your cloud usage and consider cost-saving activities to manage your cloud budget.

3. Develop a Plan

Transitioning your company’s data to the cloud requires careful planning. To this end, convene stakeholders to analyze expenses to determine which solution will further your objectives.

According to Deloitte, the key is to “find a happy medium between the functions you want to take on and the functions you want to move to the cloud.”

What functions drive adoption? And which solution will help you reach your goals without compromising your budget?

Saving money shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether to switch to cloud computing, according Sid Nag, VP of Research at Gartner, in a Datamation article.

“We never advise customers to move to the cloud to save costs,” says Nag.

Migrating your data and processes has long-term implications that don’t always correlate with saving money.

“You don’t flip a switch and move to the cloud. Maybe four or five years later you start to see cost savings. In the first six months, absolutely not,” Nag concludes.

If developing a plan seems too big of a task to accomplish on your own, consider meeting with cloud consulting services to better understand how you can effectively migrate your data to the cloud.

Data migrationSource: Pixabay

A Small Business Approach to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing can elevate your small business’ operations, but should be approached with care.

Consider cloud solutions that offer the functions you need most without overextending your budget.

Guest author's bio: Riley Panko is a Senior Content Writer for Clutch, a B2B research, ratings, and reviews platform in Washington, D.C. She specializes in cloud, business services, and accounting research.

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