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Jan, 2010

SMEs Cost Saving with Cloud Computing

SMEs are getting a unique chance to grow and expand their business with cloud computing, an emerging computing technology using the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Software as a Service (SaaS) is giving businesses the flexibility to pick and choose applications – from basic email to whole disk encryption – without requiring an extensive IT department, and the option to roll out more services as and when needed. What’s more, with services hosted offsite there is no need for additional hardware investment, and maintenance fees are low to non-existent.

The long-running debate around cloud computing has recently been reinvigorated, with many organisations starting to seriously consider the pros and cons of accessing applications through a web browser as opposed to having to host software on their own PCs.  It comes as little surprise that cost has emerged as the most promising draw for SMEs when considering this model, but with increasingly complex business software becoming available there could be other benefits to be had in the cloud.

However, some SMEs feel there are downsides to SaaS. Security is a key concern of organisations that may feel uncomfortable having sensitive corporate data held at an undisclosed location, with concerns over access policies remaining a stumbling block. Other perceived issues include loss of control over downtime or outages and latency-related performance problems in the cloud.  This all leads to a significant cost-benefit trade-off that organisations must consider before going down the SaaS route.

As a result of these concerns organisations have taken a somewhat cautious approach to cloud computing during the past year – selecting just a few non-essential applications to test the service against their individual needs.  However, with the recent improvements to SaaS delivery models, online collaboration technology has rapidly evolved and become available to smaller organisations that previously couldn’t afford the financial burden of licensing and maintaining this increasingly valuable technology.  

Recent postal strikes in the UK served to further highlight the issue, demonstrating the importance of organisations being able to interact with customers and clients through online channels. In addition, the rising cost of online payment processing, ongoing fears over the security of sensitive data transferred via email or snail mail, and difficulties keeping up with the revision process (on contracts or other rolling documents) have all contributed to the popularity of collaborative technology.

For too long now, SMEs have been frightened or unable to change the terms of how they deal with their clients, but if they wish to remain competitive in this market, then they need to embrace new technology as a way to level the playing field – and they need to do it now. The provision of collaboration technology for the SME market would once have been financially unviable – but by utilising the power of enterprise cloud computing, businesses can now bypass the need for ever more complex IT systems, while revolutionising the way in which they operate and interact with customers on the web in a simple, cost-effective way.

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