Proponents of the public cloud tout its reduced cost, ease of use and flexibility as benefits that increasingly make it a must for small and large businesses alike. Small businesses can use the cloud to store and back up business data, to collaborate, to grow in a cost-effective manner and to work remotely. While the public cloud offers many benefits, it may not be right for every business. Delve into the pros and cons of public cloud hosting to help determine whether it meets your needs.
Pros and Cons of the Public Cloud
The cloud’s benefits are immediate and clear: When employees can access information from anywhere and can share and collaborate seamlessly, everyone can work more intelligently and efficiently. Because businesses pay only for the capacity they need and can scale up or down at any time, the cloud is cheaper than the equivalent in-house setup. Small businesses on a budget can take advantage of cloud-based applications that would be prohibitively expensive to purchase and license off-cloud. Because vendors maintain and upgrade the cloud, choosing the cloud reduces in-house IT labor costs by up to 50 percent.
The cost savings of a public cloud allow businesses to invest technology expenditures in other ways, which can help grow the business. Critics of the cloud point to downtime rates that, while low, can hurt small businesses. Public clouds also pose a security risk for some businesses: When one business on the cloud is hacked, all other businesses are at risk. While cloud providers do have round-the-clock threat monitoring, attacks still happen.
Is the Public Cloud Right for your Business?
As you evaluate whether the public cloud is the right choice for your business, consider these questions:
- Is there a clear business case for developing a public cloud? Once you understand the risks and rewards of a public cloud, you can better evaluate whether there is an existing business use case for this resource. How will your company gain, in terms of efficiencies realized or in terms of financial incentives, from having a public cloud?
- Will the cloud deliver the efficiencies you need? A public cloud can streamline workflow, but it is not the answer to every business need. If the public cloud will not affect the right changes, you’re better off investing in other strategies that will deliver the needed efficiencies.
- Does the cloud meet security needs? If your business is bound by compliance measures to keep resources in-house, then a public cloud may not be viable for all business data. If, after careful research, you feel comfortable with the cloud’s security protocol and you are not bound by compliance restrictions, proceed to the cloud. While the cloud’s benefits are immediate and real, the public cloud may not be right for every business. Other cloud models offer greater security than the public cloud by maintaining business data in isolation.
If the cloud is of interest, explore vendor offerings to get started on your journey to the clouds. In 2012, the average small business used four cloud computing services, compared with just one cloud service in 2009. The numbers indicate that small businesses are increasingly using cloud. If you delay, you risk being left behind by your direct competition, which is already in the clouds.