Smaller companies have come to benefit from entrusting their data and applications to the cloud. Because these virtual environments don’t take up physical space and require little or no capital expenditure to get started, it’s easy to see why small businesses with limited budget and space would choose to deploy cloud infrastructure for their many technology needs. The scalability and flexibility of the cloud allow these kinds of companies to compete on a global scale and collaborate effectively.
However, there are other distinct reasons small businesses can benefit from the cloud. It’s not all about the CAPEX or OPEX – although these are both crucial aspects. In particular, certain advantages lie in undertaking a hybrid strategy that combines the best characteristics of on-premise infrastructure, private cloud and public cloud.
Let’s take a look at three more ways hybrid IT infrastructure is the best option for small businesses:
1. Disaster recovery
One of the best uses of the cloud is in disaster recovery and business continuity. An effective DR strategy includes a way for employees to access important company documents in times of need, as well as a plan for getting operations up and running again after a disaster. These kinds of plans are facilitated by hybrid environments, where some applications are in on-premises infrastructure but are backed up in the cloud for use when those original assets have been compromised.
“It can be an attractive alternative for companies that may be strapped for IT resources, because the usage-based cost of cloud services is well-suited for DR where the secondary infrastructure is parked and idling most of the time,” wrote TechTarget contributor Jacob Gsoedl. “Having DR sites in the cloud reduces the need for data center space, IT infrastructure and IT resources, which leads to significant cost reductions, enabling smaller companies to deploy disaster recovery options that were previously only found in larger enterprises.”
So a combination of in-house infrastructure and cloud-based services is the best way to make sure data and applications can be accessed following a major disaster, like a tornado or a fire. As unlikely as these events may seem, it’s especially important for small businesses to have a plan – just in case.
2. Sustain growth
Cloud deployments will grow alongside the company, which leads to several important benefits. Gone are the days when businesses would have to shell out money to purchase hardware that would be obsolete in two years’ time or sooner. The cloud’s inherent flexibility allows companies to invest in what they need for the time being, and then add to those services when necessary, which promotes growth. In addition, mobile employees are more productive and collaborative, bringing more opportunities for the company to remain competitive.
According to Entrepreneur contributor Andre Lavoie, this added flexibility and mobility can also lead to reductions in OPEX. Lavoie’s example is that if small businesses choose to employ bring-your-own-device policies, they can take advantage of employees’ own smartphones or tablets. This negates the need for the business itself to purchase these devices.
“The cloud’s inherent flexibility allows companies to invest in what they need for the time being.”
3. Retrieval fees are a thing of the past
When small businesses are just starting out, it may be easy to simply choose a hyperscale cloud provider – large public cloud companies like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure – because the fees to store data are often inexpensive. However, when it comes time to retrieve that data and store it in another environment or use it for something, the retrieval fees can be extremely cost-prohibitive, creating unwanted vendor lock-in. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by Sungard Availability Services found that 74 percent of organizations spent upward of $30,000 in monthly maintenance fees in addition to the initial investment.
With a multi-cloud strategy, however, it’s simple to put data and applications in these public environments and then access them via a private cloud. In this way, organizations don’t have to pay those exorbitant fees but can still access their data. This will help save money in the long run and give small businesses a chance to strengthen their IT strategies without compromising or being locked in to any one vendor.
With these three additional benefits of cloud computing on a hybrid scale, small organizations are positioned to save money, maintain business continuity and enhance growth opportunities. In other words, investing in a multi-cloud strategy is good news for small business.