The small business fear of the cloud - debunked

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Nearly half of small businesses in the US do not use cloud storage. So why do so many small businesses refuse to use the cloud?

Cloud thought leaders posit that this fear arises from concerns about security lapses, privacy, and proper compliance implementation. Other explanations include lack of awareness about how to use the cloud, a dearth of knowledge about how to leverage cloud storage capabilities, and the idea that the cloud is for enterprises only.

However, despite these concerns, over half of small businesses in the US do use cloud storage. Small businesses that choose to use the cloud benefit from enhanced collaboration, improved accessibility, and an efficient, cost-effective way to back up files.

People fear what they do not understand. Especially in the small business community, there is a lot of confusion about what the cloud is and what it does. However, these misconceptions actually have reasonable explanations.

Security

Can you blame businesses for being afraid of security breaches? After the high-profile leak of private celebrity photos in August 2014, it was impossible to watch the news without a reporter calling into question cloud security. However, contrary to these warnings, using cloud storage is actually more secure than using onsite equipment.

Think about it: for small businesses, protecting data is often a secondary concern to accomplishing the primary business goal. But, for a cloud storage provider, keeping data secure is what they do. From greater access to refined tech experts, to enhanced encryption protocols, to physical security measures, like surveillance cameras and biometric locks, cloud storage services provide a very high level of security.

Additionally, security entails more than just protection from hacking. If a business only uses onsite servers, all it takes is one disaster to destroy everything. Cloud storage enables the restoration of data, even if the entire office is destroyed.

The enterprise-only mindset

Some businesses believe that the economics of the cloud only work for large enterprises. However, on-site data storage equipment is expensive for small businesses, and the cloud allows them to cut these costs.

Lack of knowledge and awareness

Many businesses are not aware that the cloud, when used correctly, does not represent a compliance risk but rather a cost-effective way to store data. Therefore, many small businesses choose not to use cloud storage due to lack of knowledge and awareness about the cloud’s benefits and how to implement the platform properly.In particular, there are a lot of false rumours about the cloud and liability.

“Whether you put [your data] in the cloud or in the trunk of your car, it’s your responsibility,” saidFrançoise Gilbert, managing director ofIT Law Group.  In other words, a business is responsible for its data, whether it is stored on the cloud or not.

Overcoming small business fear of the cloud

With over half of small businesses using cloud storage successfully, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the benefits it provides, regardless of company size.

For example, Trees for the Future uses cloud storage capabilities to track data points, specifically the amount of trees planted, where, and when. This ability to track and analyse data helps the non-profit determine its next steps and improve tree survival rate, both of which bolster the company’s mission.

Other benefits of small business cloud storage usage include collaboration, accessibility, and the reduced cost of storing and backing up information.

First, cloud storage allows employees to share and edit files easily from both computers and mobile devices, regardless of location. Cloud storage as a tool for collaboration facilitates communication among team members, which in turn improves project efficiency.

Second, cloud storage enables employees to access files from computers and mobile devices, in the office, at home, or on the bus. This improved accessibility means that employees can stay on task, even if they cannot make it to the office.

Third, cloud storage reduces the cost of storing and backing up information. On-site servers cost thousands of dollars upfront and even more over time. However, when using a cloud storage service, someone else covers these expenses. In return, the business pays a much more manageable monthly access fee.

Have no fear

Despite small businesses’ concerns about migrating to the cloud, the benefits outweigh the fears. Cloud-phobic businesses are missing out on these benefits by not learning about the cloud and how to implement it. 

Read more: Why small business adoption of cloud storage still has some way to go

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SCHawkFan
1 Dec 2015, 8:55 p.m.

Small businesses may also be confused by the logistics around migrating to the cloud. The buzz is out there and they may have service providers and consultants pushing them in a cloud direction, but migrating servers can be challenging. There are products out there that make it very easy, like vmboomerang for migrating VMware VMs to AWS, but in many cases, it is hard to take that first step.

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Craig Benting
3 Dec 2015, 8:35 p.m.

Our target customers are all small businesses (under 150 employees) and cloud services are our primary focus with data security and IT support secondary. Data security is a primary concern, but cost is absolutely always the first and most important concern, especially on the small end of the company size range. Our biggest struggle in getting small businesses to move to the cloud is in getting them to accept the paying of monthly fees for cloud services instead of traditional one-time purchases for software and hardware.

Small businesses just use their software and hardware for much longer periods of time than medium sized businesses. Paying for annual software license agreements is almost unheard of with small businesses and they often use purchased software for 10 years or more after purchase, so monthly subscriptions for cloud services simply don't make sense when you work out the numbers. This is changing as younger employees come into these businesses, however.

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@dvarey
5 Dec 2015, 8:58 p.m.

Good article. I believe you highlighted some very real concerns for SMB's adoption of cloud storage and cloud services in general.

I think there is a knowledge gap for many SMB's. Being an SMB often means they have a small (if any) IT team that may not be knowledgeable with cloud services or how to migrate to them in a seamless manner. This is a gap that the service providers should be filling, however with so many larger businesses to pursue (read, more revenue) the service providers aren't as focused on the small business. The margins just aren't there.

Additionally, I think the services are still too expensive for SMB's. Service providers that are offering enterprise class offerings, are still having to pay the OEM's license fees and absorb all the various costs that go along with providing an enterprise class service. SMB's often can't afford the costs associated with Enterprise class services.

IMO, OEM's need to think about some creative solutions to this latter issue if the SMB's are ever going to be able to be a consumer of Enterprise class cloud services.

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