There’s a lot to consider when moving to the cloud, especially as a small or medium size business. But moving to a cloud provider can become one of the most important strategic and business level decisions a growing SMB makes.
Why SMBs are afraid: Often the IT workforce at a SMB is small but very overworked. They view moving to the cloud as yet another thing they need to manage own take care of. This is where managed cloud providers can step in and help ease the burden of the transition, taking it from something they would have to learn and to something they need to outsource and manage.
Benefits of managed cloud approach
Cost: There can be a cost definite benefit, especially for businesses looking to limit their Capex output, since moving to a managed service provider will only be an Opex expenditure, enabling a business to focus their financial resource more toward their mission-critical work. Further, depending n the type of cloud you use, you can expect a regular and manageable cost for dedicated infrastructure. You can also utilize the public cloud for spike in traffic, which can be spun down soon after the traffic subsides with no extra cost.
Performance: There is definitely a huge performance benefit, especially when SMBs choose companies who providing management services on top of the one of the big infrastructure clouds (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc.). Given the recent performance enhancements to Amazon, for example (the recently announced guaranteed IOPs on EBS volumes), utilizing the expertise and technical resources of a managed hosting provider can help an SMB maximize the value they can get out of the cloud they are already using. Ultimately, using a cloud provider doesn’t make it inherently make the cloud more reliable, but moves it out of your domain of worry to someone else, who through combination of expertise, technologies and SLA’s can ensure consistent performance of a cloud.
Outsourcing: There are definite benefits to outsourcing your infrastructure. For the SMB, accessing cloud through an outsourced provider enables their IT work force to manage their priorities and workflow more efficiently. Their system administrators get to simply be system administrators, not engineers, support engineers or round-the-clock company IT janitors as well. It really lets the SMB IT staff do the jobs they should be specializing in, creating the space to allow them to execute on projects and achieve goals to a much higher degree of precision. Developers can truly be developers, no longer having to worry about where an application will live or how it will run. The whole notion of cloud is really to make the lives of the IT staff at SMBs better.
To the business executive, the cloud provider becomes an extension of their IT department, becoming essentially and FTE or a couple FTEs without the human management needs and costs. Beyond this, with a strong SLA in place at the business level, the constant need to oversee, nudge or otherwise manage an outsourcing partner becomes less of an issue, enabling even the leadership of the SMB to focus on the core issues surrounding making the business successful, not whether their infrastructure is functional.
At one level switching to a cloud provider presents a clear delineation of responsibility, letting companies focus on their application and nothing but their application, so the whole focus of the business can be on the business, not the upkeep of that business. To look at another industry: Ford focuses on making cars, not making the machines that make cars, thus enabling their product to be their primary focus. Shifting infrastructure external to an outsourced cloud provider allows a SMB to access and rely on industry experts on infrastructure and management, eliminating the worry about whether internal practices around infrastructure and management are scalable or knowledgeable enough to help the business grow.
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By Jake Gardner