IT leaders have to balance often-competing demands of delivering greater flexibility, availability and adaptability with the need to manage and drive down costs.
To that end, implementing a successful cloud strategy is becoming more prevalent, even among the SMB community, which is increasingly responsible for most UK economic activity.
Cloud computing in various forms has been around for some time. However, it was only two years ago that businesses began to realise the benefits of the approach. With the potential to deliver reduced operating costs, greater productivity and increased efficiency, cloud computing has become the central focus in every business' programme to increase efficiency.
If implemented properly, cloud not only produces cost savings but gives SMBs a huge strategic advantage: the opportunity to be on the same operating level as much larger enterprises.
For SMBs, however, in the current downturn building a successful cloud infrastructure begins with partnering with the right provider and making the right cloud architecture decision early on.
Large players such as Salesforce, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft all offer IaaS to businesses, enabling them to purchase cloud capacity through their platforms. This offers businesses the ability to run all their enterprise applications in the cloud, supporting a more flexible and potentially lower-cost IT infrastructure.
Unfortunately, such IaaS providers only offer one-size-fits-all offerings. These are not a realistic fit for an SMB, particularly when cashflow is king.
Having recognised that, selling fixed quantities of cloud can result in overcapacity problems for users. AWS recently launched a reserved instance marketplace, enabling its customers to resell unused cloud capacity.
SMBs should not have to spend their limited IT budget on cloud capacity that they may not consume, or devote precious resources to reselling spare capacity.
They do not need cloud services delivered by the tonne direct from IaaS vendors; they need to be able to buy it by the yard from the channel.
This means access to affordable cloud-hosting services complete with the infrastructure, support and management that has become available for its larger enterprise counterparts, but in a way that makes sense for them – as and when they need it.
Cloud hosting for SMBs too should be purchased according to strict SLAs that guarantee performance, reliability and scalability.
SMBs are the workhorses of the UK economy and form the sector expected to drive the UK out of recession. It is therefore vital that resellers and IaaS providers support SMBs, who will grow with them as a business in the forthcoming years, by delivering services that suit the SMB and not just the cloud vendors.
Rick Russ is co-founder and director of Union Solutions
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