The main deterrents for small businesses looking to adopt cloud-based solutions are undoubtedly privacy and data security. They view the cloud as risky because they don't control and manage security concerning the servers holding their data. But if we look at the statistics, it's clear that most organizations would be better off putting their data in the cloud. As providers, it's our full-time job to invest in physical and digital security infrastructure; rarely does a SMB have the knowledge and resources for advanced surveillance systems and cutting-edge encryption methods, third-party certs and regular testing against attacks. And there's no need for them to - they should be focusing on their product and their customers.
Let's start with the obvious. Small businesses that adopt the service model provided by cloud computing benefit from undeniable advantages: from lower barriers to market to enterprise quality hardware at competitive rates. If you're starting a small business, this saves you from any large up-front investments. You won't have to deploy physical infrastructure and entrepreneurs are provided access to sophisticated technology that's customizable. It's not far off when most of small business needs will be taken care of with cloud-based offerings. So there needs to be a shift in the discussion; it's no longer about should small businesses adopt cloud solutions, it's about choosing the right provider that has a track record of securing their users' data.
As a small business owner, you certainly should be extremely diligent and cautious - these are qualities that help your business thrive and survive. But your CIO should at least be leading the way to take your company to a hybrid cloud solution. If your company is uncomfortable with porting sensitive data onto the public cloud, using a private cloud that's meant exclusively for the company and can be firewalled away from the rest of the internet is a good start. This will save you a ton of frustration and expense caused by personal physical servers, which are unnecessary in nearly all cases. Depending on your business model, it may make sense to use the public cloud for less sensitive tasks that you feel comfortable hosting there, and a private cloud for your most vital processing tasks. At the end of the day, the goal is to have an in-depth knowledge of your business and gain the maximum advantages from your infrastructure.
But the fear of the unknown that is the public cloud should be dwindling. Top-tier cloud providers will explain their security methodologies and commitment to you. Their mission statement will be apparent, they'll have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which guarantees a level of uptime (for IaaS this should be nearly 100%), and they'll have a long list of clients. If your small business is willing to make the transition, you can get world-class infrastructure hosted by some of the best companies in the world at significantly reduced costs.
"Realistically, those companies are going to get much better security, reliability and performance with much lower costs and hassle," says Dan Levin, COO of Box. "I've seen a number of small businesses lose data because it wasn't backed up or living on an old machine slid under the desk of some manager."
As a small business you should do what's best for the growth of your company and what feels right. The cloud is an inevitable solution to problems such as high start-up costs and scalability not because anyone's trying to trick you into thinking so, but because it's the passion of a lot of us in the industry to provide a high quality service that will transform your business. Believe the hype - it works.