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Cloud computing: Levelling the playing field

Migrating to the cloud is transforming the way SMEs do business.



By Fahad Al Hassawi

Published: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:14 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:53 PM

Cloud computing is transforming the way in which people do business and small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, are yet to fully realise the incredible advantages that cloud solutions can have for their business, regardless of its size. Cloud platforms allow SMEs to compete in environments previously controlled by cloud giants like Google and Amazon on a more equal footing. By ignoring the potential of this technology, SMEs are missing out. 

Cloud computing has evolved to such an extent that today it is an incredibly easy to use model that enables ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (networks, servers, storage, applications and services), which can be provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. Customers with broadband connectivity (public or private) can access IT resources to interact and deploy new requirements that suit their needs.

Traditionally, SMEs operate in environments with limited resources and IT personnel; however, it is now essential for these small businesses to consider adopting the cloud and the benefits it can provide in terms of transforming productivity, and enabling them to remain competitive.

One of the most challenging aspects of cloud adoption amongst SMEs used to be the need for upfront infrastructure investment. Today, however, cloud-based services are available on a subscription model. SMEs are required to pay just for the resources required, thus adapting their demands to the precise cost.  In addition, cloud computing offers SMEs access to affordable technologies, large-enterprise benefits and quick implementation to improve competitiveness.

The advent of mobile technology has opened new doors to the way in which business is conducted, it can now be done anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Staff can now access files and applications on the go. As data consumption escalates, be it from websites, applications for smartphones, portable devices or even the way we share social content, storage becomes a key critical issue. Du business cloud solutions, for example, offer a scalable storage model that allows a business IT infrastructure to expand around storage in accordance with business demands.

Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, and software as a service, or SaaS, are both consumption models of cloud computing. SaaS represents the largest cloud market and uses the web to deliver applications managed by a third-party vendor, and it allows companies to increase their demands on a per use basis. SaaS is a model that might be applicable for general purposes applications like office and is popular among customers who require to setup their own applications. On the other hand, IaaS is a model that is much more interesting nowadays for all SMEs to start transitioning to the cloud. Instead of having to purchase hardware outright, users can purchase IaaS based on consumption, similar to electricity or other utility billing.

Many organisations are facing a choice whether to deploy a private cloud or leverage a public cloud for their storage needs. The discussion around each is more a conversation around application performance, security and predictability of the platforms that might host these applications. The more oriented the application is to core business, the higher the requirements are to these features. Nevertheless, while private clouds can be more customised regarding customer requirements, public clouds usually are more scalable and attractive in price for IT unpredictable demands.

While moving to the cloud is a sound business decision for SMEs in today’s ICT climate, there are still a number of challenges they will face. One of the greatest concerns for SMEs is security, moving workloads off premises to a cloud provider might be something which needs to be assessed professionally. In the same vein data protection and allocation policies is another topic companies in the region should be aware of as regulation might apply on how and where data is stored in order to be compliant.

When moving to the cloud, SMEs need to size their infrastructure properly with the support of their cloud provider to obtain great performance and reduce the costs from their initial design. And finally, and most importantly, SMEs must choose a cloud provider that can offer enterprise service level agreements to that assure responsible operation, as if it were their own team and IT staff.

 

The writer is chief commercial officer of du. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspapers policy.


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