Cloud Solutions for Small Businesses
Ah, the simplicity of the cloud. For small businesses, it means not having to manage big IT setups in their office, turning instead to remote services that let them do everything from storing data to running software online.
Well, maybe not as simple as many entrepreneurs expect. Experts warn that shifting big jobs to the cloud still means business owners need to oversee a host of everyday IT operations around their own office. And it introduces technical considerations they may never have thought of.
As Fast As You Can
For one thing, there’s speed. Moving to the cloud “will require a bigger Internet connection,” says Chad R. Paalman, a technology adviser for small businesses in Lansing, Mich. “Very often, business owners don’t realize they may need more bandwidth when moving services” to the cloud.
Many small businesses have Internet plans that offer fast download speeds, but upload speeds are also important if they’re storing big bundles of data in online services. “The risk is lost productivity due to poor performance,” says Mr. Paalman. “Our experience has shown that you need approximately 3 MB synchronous upload/download for every 10 users.”
There’s also a certain amount of hands-on tech expertise involved even if a business dumps a lot of its systems in the office. For one thing, it’s still going to be running local computers—and all of them need hardware and software help. “The big misnomer is that moving to the cloud means that you don’t have any on-site infrastructure,” Mr. Paalman says. “Most cloud providers do not provide on-site IT support.”
For instance, says Mike Mandato, an IT professional in Westlake, Ohio, businesses will need to update security software of all stripes, as well as the necessary software to run the machines in their network.
Eyes on the Cloud
Business owners also have to keep an eye on technical matters on the cloud company’s end—things like where the data is stored, what privacy protections the cloud company has in place, whether it will mine the data for marketing and how the information is encrypted.
“There are countless things that can be buried or even omitted from agreements,” says Mr. Paalman. “If you don’t know what to ask, you may risk finding out the hard way.”
It’s also important that entrepreneurs look at the policies in place if they want to switch services. “What if the business wants to transfer or sign on with cloud company B due to more and better services?” Mr. Mandato says. “How does your data get transferred from A to B cloud? Will they load your data to a hard drive and mail it for you?”
As a last resort, business owners may want to look at having a plan in place in their own office to back up crucial information. Having a copy of the data on site can be crucial, says Jahangir Karimi, an IT expert and a professor at the University of Colorado Denver, “so that they are not totally relying on the provider for its availability.”
For help ensuring that your companies cloud provider has your a copy of your data available to you or to discuss a plan for your business to migrate your office to cloud solutions.
by: the wall street journal