Grant McGregor News

Cloud Computing Solutions – Levelling the Playing Field for SMEs

July 14 2014

In the past small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have struggled to compete with larger businesses in their industries, with one of the reasons being that they did not have access to the same advanced technologies. However, thanks to Cloud computing solutions, the playing field has begun to level out for SMEs.

Cloud computing is far more than just the latest technology trend. It holds significant value, particularly for SMEs, as it is essentially changing how they run their businesses and allowing them to achieve results that were once only deemed possible for larger companies.

In a recent study conducted by Microsoft, it was found that 63% of growing businesses believed that Cloud technology was critical to their future success. Here we will explain the benefits of Cloud computing solutions for SMEs and how they are helping to level the playing field.

Advanced technology & expertise at an affordable cost

Today SMEs have the option to outsource the management of their IT systems to third party companies using Cloud technology. This allows them to benefit from having experts managing their IT systems, at just a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house IT technician. Cloud computing solutions also allow SMEs to access the latest software, applications and security tools at a fraction of the cost to run them in-house.

Whereas in the past only larger businesses would be able to afford to hire the top IT technicians and make use of the latest software and applications, thanks to Cloud computing, SMEs now have many of the same opportunities. The beauty of Cloud computing solutions is that you only ever pay for what you use, so packages can be tailored to suit the smaller budgets of many SMEs.

Cloud computing is not for every business. Some are put off by the thought of their information living somewhere that is unknown or intangible. There is also a lot of ‘spin’ around the ability for everything to work for everyone, all of the time – though even some of the biggest Cloud operators have suffered outages and problems. But what are some of the key benefits to considering Cloud?

Enhanced security

IT security is a key concern for businesses of all sizes. Enterprise level security solutions are typically very expensive and, therefore, traditionally only affordable for large businesses. However, Cloud computing solutions now provide a robust and secure environment for small businesses to store their data.

Security software and applications can also be supplied as a service, via Cloud, allowing small businesses to gain access to the latest industry software at an affordable rate. The cost is simply covered in their monthly service fee to the Cloud provider.

Increased productivity

SMEs can also benefit from increased productivity, thanks to Cloud computing solutions. Cloud solutions allow for remote working, which means SMEs can save money and reduce the cost of business premises by allowing employees to work from home. Using Cloud computing, employees can access their business files, emails and applications from anywhere, as long as they have a connection to the internet.

Remote working not only helps SMEs to make cost savings but also increases productivity as working from home is often seen as a perk and a great morale booster.

Improved flexibility

Cloud solutions are typically very flexible, making it easier for SMEs to upgrade their applications and storage requirements as their business grows. No longer are they tied into software versions that need to be upgraded, nor are they so restricted by their size or capacity.

Recommended solutions

Although there are many different Cloud computing solutions available, for SMEs we have plenty of positive experiences of both GFI Cloud and Microsoft’s Office 365 options.

GFI Cloud is a complete suite of services that makes it easy for SME owners to monitor and manage their IT operations using a secure online platform – no software necessary!

On the other hand, you have Microsoft Office 365, a Cloud based platform that gives SMEs access to all the software they have been used to working with for years but now hosted in the Cloud and priced at an affordable monthly rate. Users can also benefit from the fact that Microsoft is responsible for the physical infrastructure, such as servers reducing this aspect of IT maintenance and renewal.

However, businesses do need to carefully consider that the charging model for Cloud services shifts cash from capital expenditure to revenue costs – and this can add up over a comparative period of time.

For example, when we have helped business owners or managers to assess the best options for them, it can become clear that the capital cost of a replacement server and software licences over 4 years, is lower than the equivalent Cloud subscription fees over the same time period.

Conclusion

Cloud computing solutions have gone a long way to level out the playing field for SMEs by giving them access to enterprise level solutions at monthly or annual prices they can afford.

Cloud based solutions also give SMEs the flexibility to change providers and upgrade their software in order to meet their rapidly changing requirements. However, the cost / benefit analysis needs to weigh up the equivalent capital spend over the time period that equipment would be used for as capital costs can prove less expensive over the medium to longer term.

Flexibility certainly seems to be one of the key drivers for Cloud.

If you are interested in levelling out the playing field between your SME and its larger competitors, please get in touch for more information about our recommended solutions, GFI Cloud and Office 365.

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