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September 17, 2012

SMBs Need to Know When and Why to Leverage the Cloud

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The cloud. Hotter than a teen idol, it is hard to talk about computing without now mentioning the cloud. Email and scheduling moved to the cloud long ago, and now files, applications and communications are quickly moving in that direction. A recent IDC forecast reported that public IT cloud services will account for more than $40 billion in 2012, and reach $100 billion by 2016.

Large enterprises are already well integrated into the cloud, but that’s not necessarily the case with small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

“Cloud is definitely in the mainstream, especially in the Enterprise,” said Robert Bye, president and CEO of cloud services provider nGenx, in a TMCnet interview. “That said, SMB adoption significantly lags the enterprise so there is a ton of growth potential in this market.”

While there is strong case for cloud adoption, an inevitable migration even, Bye warns SMBs against rushing too quickly into a cloud strategy. There are hundreds of cloud offerings, each tailored to a specific business problem. Therefore it is important that SMBs understand their needs and discriminate among the various cloud offerings.

“The cloud is an idea or a paradigm; it is not a product or a solution in and of itself,” cautioned Bye. He noted that every company wants to be associated with the cloud, but treating the cloud as a product and quickly choosing a cloud solution for its own sake is a mistake. “Make sure you are leveraging the cloud to increase agility and improve efficiency. The cloud may not save you money, but it will transform your business.”

Agility, the ability to succeed or fail with new ideas more quickly, is the major benefit of the cloud and the big disruption that is transforming business.

“Cloud enables agility, which is the single most differentiating factor in business today. Projects, products and initiatives get ramped up with the least amount of hassle, disruption and cost,” he noted. “This allows for more experimentation and less risk.”

In addition to recognizing the true benefit of a cloud solution, Bye said SMBs also should pay more attention to cloud security and the opportunity for cloud providers to simplify compliance.

“There is tradeoff in cloud products between security and convenience as well as the associated costs. In the SMB market, cost and convenience are higher priorities because the risks seem to be lower than in the Enterprise,” he noted. But, “security is a moving target that needs to be addressed continuously.”

He said SMBs do not take security seriously enough, especially when it comes to employees bringing their own devices to work. “Studies show that almost half of companies don’t require password control of phones or laptops.”

When it comes to compliance, the cloud can be a business’s best friend.

“The SMB can pass much of the checkbox compliance responsibility to the cloud provider,” he pointed out. “For vertically focused compliance, the cloud provider’s platform and certifications may form the basis for significant portions of the reporting.”

With solutions such as nFinity Desktop, a desktop-as-a-service, nGenx (News - Alert) offers a variety of cloud solutions that SMBs might want to consider. Bye is looking forward to showing off the company’s offerings and seeing what others in the industry have to offer SMBs at this year’s Cloud4SMB Expo, held in Austin from October 2-5 as part of ITEXPO West.

“I am looking forward to meeting with channel partners that are interested in cloud enabling their SMB customers,” he said. “Our hosted virtual desktop is unlike anything else on the market. You can work seamlessly in your PC, Mac, iPad or Android (News - Alert) device and all your data is stored securely in our cloud.”

Bye is interested in seeing where others are taking the cloud during the show, too, as it still is early days.

“I am interested in understanding how other cloud vendors approach the SMB space since it is still early in the development of this market segment,” he noted.

Want to learn more about cloud computing solutions geared specifically towards small to medium-sized businesses? Don’t miss the Cloud4SMB Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Cloud4SMB Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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