Analysis

Cloud and SMB Deriving Long Term Benefits From Pandemic IT Decisions

Posted 9.8.20 by
Carrie Kennedy
Blog

According to a recent Analysis Mason survey, 28% of US small/medium businesses (SMB) adopted collaboration tools for the first time due to the pandemic, with 43% of businesses planning to maintain higher use of collaboration tools as business restrictions are reduced.

TechAisle’s survey of 8,700 SMBs shows their SaaS spend reaching $76B globally in 2021. The pandemic surely has been responsible for a significant portion of the increase in those numbers; the dynamic and elastic nature of cloud-based services has become an important ingredient in an IT disaster plan. This is especially true for SMB, where smaller IT teams and limited funding gives added value to the flexibility of cloud-based infrastructure, access, workspace, backup and recovery services.  As business rebounds from the pandemic, it’s advisable for SMBs to reevaluate their early 2020 IT decisions and integrate the best of them into a new business IT plan. Cloud services enabled in the short term for business survivability may now be considered viable contributors to profitable growth and provide improvements in business recovery and survivability.

SMB Cloud Benefits and Digital Transformation

It’s fair to say that the benefits of the three main categories of Cloud based services – IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS – are well known by all businesses today. SMBs perhaps stand to gain greater economic benefits from the use of those cloud-based services proportionate to the revenue of the business and size of their IT budgets. Some cloud benefits of particular value:

  • Cost optimization: reduced IT staffing requirements, reduction in network build and maintenance expense. Cloud expense is Opex vs Capex.
  • Dynamic scale and flexibility: Demand based usage according to user and application requirements.
  • Any time anywhere access and collaboration: Device and location agnostic access to applications, workspaces and collaboration tools.
  • Enhanced security and survivability: State of the art security services with a flexible and dynamic security perimeter. 24x7x365 security staffing and availability of compliance levels commensurate to governance/regulation requirements.
  • Edge computing for emerging technologies that many SMB use. E.g. analytics, IoT, supply chain, and remote management.

Cloud-based services should also be considered a cornerstone of SMB digital transformation. A March article in Forbes concerning digital transformation and the SMB defines that “Digital transformation fundamentally changes how enterprises operate and deliver value to customers, by integrating digital technology into all areas of the business.” The article summarizes that the customer experience (CX) benefits in a significant way from digital transformation and “brands that focus on CX demonstrate 3x greater stock performance returns than CX laggards.” If digital transformation has become a key to business success, then this may be an area of advantage. SMBs typically don’t have the amount of expensive legacy systems and processes to convert that many larger or longer tenured businesses do.

How to extract the best value from cloud usage

Here are several important considerations for keeping a lid on the costs of cloud services, limiting cloud sprawl, and assuring your business obtains the best return on your cloud spend:

  • Create and publish a strict cloud policy that centralizes approval for the purchase of new or expanded cloud services, regulates the use of shadow IT services and specifies back-up and DR requirements.
  • Use and continuously update a cloud inventory program including location, usage specifications, service or application dependency and cost allocation.
  • Be sure you understand any additional or possibly hidden costs including data access fees, integration costs, and service termination/data removal costs.
  • Take advantage of cost optimization opportunities including shutting down unused workloads, rightsizing instances, and utilize the appropriate back-up and DR per workload.
  • Develop an ROI for your use of cloud services utilizing metrics that represent delivery of value to your business. ROI for cloud services today is much broader than just build vs lease or OPEX vs CAPEX. Today’s ROI needs to also consider the contribution of cloud in delivering uninterrupted, business critical services via survivable access, reduced business downtime, and improvements in cyberthreat management.

In any SMB cloud solution your security products, tools and services for each environment (which are likely to be different) must cooperate with each other. As you map out your cloud solution, be thorough and assure compatibility between all clouds so you get the maximum protection for your data. Ultimately, any cloud solution is as secure as you make it. Pay attention to the key areas for potential exposure and vulnerability. Addressing them upfront will help your organization not only stay secure, but also realize the full potential and benefits that a cloud solution offers; whichever cloud that may be.

Interested in learning more about cloud design, architecture and security? Contact our cloud experts today or call (877) 740-5028.

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