When discussing the market for cloud computing, there are two directions dominating the arguments. The first is how the cloud can help small businesses, and the second is adoption by large companies.
Of course, the benefits of the cloud for small businesses are obvious, giving them access to services they would previously have found too expensive and helping them compete against bigger players. I have discussed this in a number of articles, including “5 Ways a Small Business can use the Cloud.” The large companies have the resources, both money and knowledge, to develop and access more complex cloud services to meet their needs.
As usual, the middle gets overlooked — but this is changing. Early this year, a study commissioned by IBM relates that more than two-thirds of mid-sized companies are “either planning or currently deploying cloud-based technologies to improve IT systems management while lowering costs.” So mid-sized businesses are not insensitive to the cost and management benefits cloud computing could offer.
In a way, it could be argued that mid-sized businesses are in the perfect position to adopt the cloud: They’re small enough to be flexible, but large enough to have the expertise and afford deployment. And cloud computing services would bring them many advantages:
- The inherent flexibility of cloud computing services enables mid-sized companies to be adaptable and respond to market changes quickly and without paying a high price.
- The ability to pay only for what you use, and to add and drop services as and when needed, puts companies in a good position for sudden growth or, if necessary, downsizing.
- Pay for what you need and no investment in infrastructure allow mid-sized companies to concentrate their resources on exactly what they require. The economic conditions are difficult, so there is no surplus of capital to be invested in services and capacities that may not be needed.
- Cloud computing will not only maximize mid-sized companies’ financial capital, but also their human resources. Employees in charge of technology will be able to utilize their time better, and produce better results for the business, instead of worrying about running the infrastructure.
The benefits may seem clear, but there are a few challenges in the road to cloud computing for medium-sized businesses. Of course, there are the usual ones, like security, availability, and fear — but also some additional ones, like the fact that medium-sized businesses are under immense pressure today, and IT employees who would need to drive the migration to the cloud typically have difficulties finding additional time and resources needed to implement it.
But I think that all IT managers in medium-sized companies should ask a few essential questions, like: Would cloud computing yield more for our money? And, will we be able to offer more to our customers more efficiently? If the answers are yes, and a business case can be made, the choice is simple.
Rick Blaisdell is an accomplished technical and business leader and a pioneer in the cloud computing field and in delivering the next generation of business technology. Focused on results, he has implemented revolutionary solutions to cut costs and improve efficiency. He is a creative thinker and visionary in the area of cloud computing. You can read more about him on his personal website, www.rickscloud.com, or e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.