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Cloud Computing Attitudes for Small and Midsized Businesses
Without a doubt one of the biggest computing trends of the past few years has been the adoption of cloud computing technologies by the business community.
In order to better understand this trend businesswebhostingtoday.com sent out a survey to approximately 500 customers to gauge where the business community stands on the topic of using applications in the cloud. The questions we asked and answers we received shed light on how small & medium sized companies are adapting to cloud computing technologies and the challenges they have encountered in doing so.
What is Cloud Computing?
In short, cloud computing is the usage of networked software to deliver applications or services like e-mail, file storage and backup, Software as a Service (Saas), and web hosting that aren’t necessarily on site – but rather “in the cloud” a euphemism for the Internet. Popular examples of cloud services that private individuals use every day are things like Gmail and Google Docs. In some instances people have ditched their old word processing programs entirely and switched to the new universe of hosted software that works just the same, as long as you have a connection to the Internet.
While companies haven’t been as quick to catch on to cloud computing as personal users – this is finally beginning to change, as the survey results below clearly show.
The first question we asked was “How many months has your business been using cloud computing solutions?”
Surprisingly, the most common answer was a full 30 months (2.5 years) with 25% of the respondents answering in the affirmative. This shows that a large number of businesses have already hopped on the bandwagon and are eager to switch over a large proportion of their computing tasks to hosted solutions in the cloud.
In addition to this we also found that the majority, a full 75% of respondents, has been using cloud computing technology for 30 months or longer. This means that if your organization has not yet adopted these technologies – you are living in the past. At the very least your company’s IT department should have a feasibility study in the works with a plan to transfer key business applications like email, hosting, and backup to the cloud.
For companies not yet convinced of the usefulness of cloud computing or are worried about its implementations we now have quantitative data about what the top cloud computing concerns are amongst business owners and IT professionals. As expected the issue of ‘security’ topped the list with 20% of respondents citing this as their top barrier to imple menting cloud computing solutions at their workplace. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding this topic is that applications in the cloud are less secure than those run in-house.
However, the truth is that there is little difference in how cloud applications are updated and patched vs. standard applications. Of course, a secure network infrastructure is essential to running any IT operation and as long as your organization follows industry-wide best practices there is no reason that your infrastructure can’t support cloud based applications with the same high level of security and trust.
Other top concerns like ‘interoperability’ and ‘compliance’ came up as important issues as well. Today’s top application providers for solutions in the cloud are bending over backwards to make sure the transfer of data will be as smooth as possible for employees and customers. As with all new technologies there are growing pains and inevitable headaches when we make the switch from legacy applications to new ones – but they are usually well worth the trouble in the long run.
In addition to the data cited above, some of the most enlightening information came in the form of comments from our respondents. Jack M. of Perry Auto Leasing LLC, a family run car dealership in the southwestern US noted:
“Around two years ago we switched our data backup from an on-site solution to a cloud based on. Our old setup was comprised of a six-disk array that required its own power source and power backup. While the backups were automatic we were always concerned about having all of our precious data stored on site in case of a fire or natural disaster. Now that all of our staff’s computers are running backup software that sends files to the cloud we have almost nothing to think about when it comes to operating our backup infrastructure.”
Based on the findings above the trend of businesses using cloud applications will only grow stronger in the future. While there are still many obstacles to implementing cloud based solutions across the entire spectrum of IT infrastructure, it appears that the technology is developing at a fast enough rates that within the next 10 years the vast majority of applications will be hosted in the cloud. Businesses that haven’t jumped on the cloud computing bandwagon need to get started right away in order to remain competitive now and into the future.