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What a small business needs to know about the cloud


By Phil Scanlon, commercial director for IT services at

Most people think they should be in the cloud, but not everyone is sure of the benefits. For small businesses, cloud technology can provide better ROI than having your own IT services on premise. Arm yourself with the right knowledge and making decisions about cloud technology will be much easier. 

The beauty of cloud computing is that you can upgrade your IT software and communications as your business evolves without the need to make expensive capital purchases. Thus you remove the need to invest in expensive hardware or maintain it on your premises and you don’t need to worry about maintaining software. Being in the cloud also removes the worry of ensuring you do regular data backups and ensures data security. 

What are the benefits of a hosted service?

With a hosted service you can upscale your IT quickly. You can add any number of users relatively cheaply without the need for expensive hardware upgrades because you find your server has run out of capacity. 

Your IT will also have greater stability, availability and security if you use a hosted service. The data centres from which hosted providers operate are purpose-built, so they have backup power generators, redundant power supplies, and sophisticated cooling facilities, fire protection and around the clock 24x7 monitoring. 

Is cloud computing secure?

 To ensure you choose a professional and responsible organisation you need to use a hosting service provider that has ISO27001 ISMS (Information Security Management Systems) accreditation. This way you know your most precious business asset – your data – is secure. This accreditation means that the hosting company has stringent policies and procedures in place to protect your data. 

What are the downsides?

There are a few downsides that can be avoided if recognised upfront and planned for. The first, as discussed above, is to choose a cloud partner with the right accreditation. Secondly, if you have problems with your broadband communications it means you will have poor or no access to your cloud systems. Therefore, you must ensure you have the right resilience built into your internet connection to minimise the possibility of any downtime. 

Finally, switching hosting providers means moving your data from one provider to another. This can be tricky if your current hosting provider doesn’t want to help you move your business away. With this in mind, ensure your contract includes help and assistance if you ever need to move your data to another provider.

How do I futureproof my IT?

As your firm expands, or indeed your business offer changes, your service provider will be able to adapt their services very quickly to meet your needs. If you need more data capacity or access to new software applications (e.g. HR or accounting software) they will be able to implement it quickly and simply. 

Although your IT supplier should quietly work out which cloud technology is right for your business and demonstrate how it will support your business growth, understanding the basics and knowing what questions to ask them will make sure you invest in the right technology first time. It will also ensure better ROI for your business in the long-term, allowing your IT to adapt as you grow and develop as a business.