Ask the Expert: IT in the Sky: Is the Cloud Right for Your Business?

Terri Kevany |

What is the “cloud” phenomenon all about? You hear it constantly, but what does it mean and how can it be used to help small business owners?

The cloud has been a buzzword for several years, and with good reason. The cloud is rapidly reducing costs and improving efficiencies for businesses globally. In its simplest form, the cloud consists of services and software that are accessed through the Internet instead of your local network. Cloud environments are housed in highly available, fully redundant and compliant third-party audited data centers and are built on enterprise hardware. It’s safe to return to an old business axiom: When transformation occurs it brings new challenges; it also brings opportunity. Small and mid-size businesses must become comfortable understanding the cloud infrastructure and all they can gain from utilization. Careful due diligence will help businesses make confident decisions in finding the right providers to launch them into this space.

Reasons to move to a cloud platform are many. Perhaps you are facing a hardware refresh, new levels of compliance requirements, security and /or law, or your company may wish to move toward applications that can drive and grow your business. You may want to beef up your disaster recovery and business continuity strategies or be prepared to scale your IT to meet varying customer demands. Connecting your mission critical apps into facilities that have faster performance and higher security than your own makes good business sense.

The idea that the cloud is only for larger companies is inaccurate. There are many budget-friendly cloud options for small and medium-sized businesses. Find a cloud company that will work with you on a Proof of Concept (POC) and, in phases, fit you into the cloud. A POC will determine the feasibility of moving to the cloud; it can also be a useful tool to see how well you and the vendor work together.

Look for a cloud provider capable of moving you to a global economy. An important business consideration in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technology landscape is leveraging IT ecosystems. It’s important to partner with groups that can understand your business and collaborate to meet and exceed your objectives.

By virtualizing your IT applications and infrastructure, your company can create opportunities to become more efficient and reduce your overall IT footprint. As you move toward the cloud, be sure to leverage the umbrella of your provider’s audits and compliance to laws and best practices. By entering the cloud layers, you will reduce and eliminate single points of failure, and bring your company to the outside world in a highly reliable and secure way. 

Kevin Goodman is managing director and partner with Blue Bridge Networks, a cloud data center and managed services business headquartered in downtown Cleveland.

This article originally appeared in the June 22, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.