Is the cloud really the best solution for SMEs?
Why for some businesses a standalone hosted solution may be best
By Ben Dyer, CEO of SellerDeck | PC Advisor | Published: 17:21, 09 July 2012
Cloud computing is currently one of the most talked about topics for many business, for a large percentage of whom it is the perfect solution. For a startup, low costs and simple entry are appealing features - while large corporates have the clout to mould cloud services to their will. However there is a third, multi-million pound market for which the cloud may not suit. Visit: Business Advisor.
For mid-market online companies, though, all that glitters definitely isn't gold. The cloud can become a nightmare for security, data privacy and more - and many are returning to standalone self-hosted solutions to bring control back into their own hands.
The complexities of choosing a cloud provider are numerous - issues such as security management, attack response and recovery, system availability and performance, the vendor's financial stability and its ability to comply with the law all need to be considered. But should your business even be thinking about moving to the cloud at all?
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The answer is yes and no, if you're a very small company and you don't have many resources at your disposal, cloud solutions are appealing because they generally require minimum capital investment are low-cost and low maintenance. Because of cloud services, small start-ups can have access to resources that would have previously only been available to much larger operations.
For the same reasons companies that are growing quickly are also be attracted by the scalability offered by cloud providers. The difference for them, however, is that they have something to lose, And, relying on the cloud has its drawbacks too. Just the other weekend freak weather conditions on the east coast of the USA caused problems for Amazon Web Services (AWS), meaning that popular services such as Instagram and Netflix were pushed offline for a number of hours.
This isn't the first outage AWS has suffered, either, with a lightning strike at its Dublin datacentre causing havoc late last year. Though outages that affect services such as Instagram are bound to hit the headlines even if there is only a short period of downtime, smaller companies using cloud providers have much greater exposure to this kind of risk. If your company's website is knocked offline, how high up your cloud provider's list of priorities will it be to get it fixed?
And there are other reasons why companies should be cautious of cloud-based solutions. When it comes to data security, vendors need to be sure that their customers' data is securely stored to maintain the bond of trust. If a company is relying on a cloud provider, how sure can it be that hackers won't be able to access the data? If you choose to host your own online offering, you'll ultimately be responsible for your own data, and can ensure you have the right solutions - such as hardware-level protection - to keep customer data safe from cybercriminals.
While relying on a cloud provider to store data securely for you is one thing, there is also the question of the safety of your data too. Using a cloud provider means that you have no control over how data is backed up, or where the data is stored. Imagine if your entire customer database disappeared overnight - your business could be ruined. There can also be implications to consider if the data is being hosted overseas, especially for public sector suppliers
Any company that wants to be certain that issues of downtime, data safety and security and legal compliance are all under its own control would be well advised to think about alternatives to cloud providers. Provided they have the resources to manage them effectively, these businesses can be better off taking full control over key components such as hosting, payments, fraud detection and customer feedback and not relying on third-party, cloud-based solutions.
So while the cloud might be a perfect solution for many businesses, it's worth considering whether it is really necessary for your business, when a self-hosted, standalone product could be a better fit.
Ben Dyer is the CEO of www.sellerdeck.co.uk.