The cloud can seem like a scary place for SMBs, because things like hacking, security breaches and fraud are making major headlines. If a companies like Target (News - Alert) or Michaels can be compromised, can a SMB's data really be safe? Yes, said participants on The Cloud of Tomorrow panel at Cloud4SMB Expo, and the best move SMBs can make it to jump right in. The main barrier to adoption of the cloud for SMBs is a cultural one, panelists agreed.
"A lot of times it's about control, especially in the SMB market," said Paul Daigle, VoIP evangelist and chief partner development at Intelacloud. "They sometimes put themselves in jeopardy because they take a lackadaisical view on maintaining their technology and securing it. When they look at the cloud, they look at that as losing control and that makes them reluctant. But in the cloud, they actually get more control, more scalability, more flexibility, and you can actually be more secure when you have things in the cloud."
The perceived difficulty can also be a barrier to cloud adoption, and training a small business on how to use the cloud is critical for the partners they employ. "From a SMB perspective, it's adjusting your mindset to buying a service vs. a capital expenditure [such as buying a server]," said Bryan Mobley, director, Cisco Consulting Services, Cisco Systems (News - Alert), Inc. "It's a different mindset."
And sometimes a transition has to be forced, Daigle said. "As these older apps become older, sometimes you can't migrate it to a new version of an OS, and that forces SMBs to go to the cloud."
Emil Sayegh, president and CEO of Codero Hosting, said it's OK for businesses to start small, but advises that they need to start somewhere. Avoiding the cloud could end up being more expensive in the end if something goes wrong. "Put an application out there--even a test and development one--and see how it performs. You can always back up, and take it out of the cloud, but that's an easy way to get started."
So what does the cloud of the future hold for SMB? Panelists see growing data, and the need for scalability, efficiency and accessibility of that data driving more and more SMBs to the cloud.
"There will be fundamental changes that will drive more and more businesses to the cloud--both for SMBs and enterprises," Sayegh said. "It will no longer be practical to store data onsite in corporate data centers. SMBs will want more scalability and performance because customers will demand it. The hosting model has proven that it's much more cost effective for SMBs and those trends will accelerate quickly."