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Saturday, 30 June 2012 08:10

Small business and the big “C” word Featured


Small businesses have an advantage over corporates and enterprise in being able to execute, assess, then implement (or roll back) all within the same day. It will come as no surprise then, to find that many savvy small businesses are operating their entire organisation in the Cloud.  So is it the way of the future?  Is it safe?  Should it even be a consideration?  Or is the Cloud just be a big "C" word?.

The cloud is for your data, what Facebook is for your personal and social details.  You entrust it entirely almost giving no thought as to what is sent up (though I wish more people using Facebook would give some thought on the junk they post!).  Now Facebook are notorious for making changes with no warning, no research, and a “if it doesn’t work we’ll just pull it” mentality.  But the damage is usually done by then.  And the cloud is no different.  If your cloud service provider makes a change, suck it up.  If you don’t like it, then find someone else.  But finding someone else would be a hassle, potentially of epic proportions, and even if you do, then you’re in their hands. 

It’s like marriage really.  If the first one doesn’t work, it costs a lot of money, time and stress to break the contract to find a second one.  And what’s not to say the same thing will happen again….    

And don’t let me get started about security.  Being in IT I have accepted this long ago, but there is a mantra I use that those using a cloud (or any online) service should memorise.  These words will answer every question relating to the internet and nothing more should be said on the matter other than remembering. 

"If its online, its not mine"

Buying a computer is final, and buying a server is final, yet using a cloud service is an on-going expense.  Thankfully that expense is dropping literally daily, but it’s an expense nonetheless which has more significance after reading the next headline.  

Anyway, small businesses are mainly concerned in 3 areas:

  1. profits
  2. making money
  3. bottom line

Catch my drift?

For many small businesses, the costs simply cannot be justified.

Ok, so you don’t need the cloud.  No one does.   You just want it.  You see, as humans, we’re all generally lazy (and laziness has helped evolution) and the smartest people in this world are the laziest.  Sick and tired of doing things that take too long, they create processes that speed things up, makes things easier, and makes everything run more efficiently .  And the cloud is a product of this.  Besides, the cloud is nothing new, it's just an easier way to do something.

So with that in mind, the cloud offers no real benefit over a properly configured, run and looked after local solution.  None, zero, zip, nada.  Sure it has a truck load of features, but they don’t really benefit small businesses any more than what can be set up in house.

Small businesses want the cloud, they just don’t feel they need it.

So should you use and recommend the cloud?  ABSO-FREAKN-LUTELY!  (backflip much?) 

Having looked after many small businesses for a number of years there is one thing that is consistently overlooked, always undervalued and never well executed. 

Backups and Disaster Recovery.

And the cloud in most cases, can help with this.  The other cool features of it, are just a big bonus. 

Whether it’s changing over tapes, checking the logs, or performing a test restoration, the human element of B&DR is the weakest, most inconsistent and most prone to failure.  And I’m not just talking about company employees either, I’m also talking about the IT professionals that are hired to ensure this is working.  They’re humans too after all.  Sort of.  Well some of them.  Nevertheless, IT people are amongst the laziest in the world and we have them to thank for these brilliant advances in technology.  Cause in reality, changing backup tapes is a pain in the ass.

And that’s why the cloud was invented.

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