By Kevin Peesker
General Manager
UK and Ireland Dell Consumer and Small, Medium Business

While Cloud computing offers an attractive proposition for small and medium businesses (SMB's) by providing access to enterprise-class technology through affordable and scalable means, research shows there’s still a degree of scepticism and uncertainty amongst SMBs about the business benefits of cloud-based IT. Research from small business marketplace PeoplePerHour.com found that, of the 1300 SMBs it surveyed, 36% of those who understood the term “cloud computing” didn’t feel a need to incorporate it into their companies.

For many organizations, the ‘cloud’ may seem complex. In actuality the majority of SMBs engage with the cloud daily via various applications. There is a wealth of innovation happening in this area of technology designed to make it cloud infrastructure more tangible for businesses of all sizes. There is a growing body of evidence that we’re on the verge of a tipping point for cloud business applications and now is the time to start considering what opportunities this poses for your business.

As a small or mid-market company trying to make sense of the cloud, what do you actually need to do? Unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for moving to the cloud. It is important to define why and how the cloud makes sense for ‘your’ business. Questions you need to ask are: do cloud offerings map well to my business processes, or can I change my processes to map to cloud applications? Do I gain a competitive advantage I don’t already have? Are my industry peers moving to the cloud and is it working for them? These and similar ‘business ROI’ questions will help ensure you’ll end up with a solution that is customised and fits your business’ needs.

It is also key to understand how the cloud is different. There are quite a few differences between cloud and on-premise computing and it’s important to think about which applications you need to run in your own data centre, and why, before making the move. Like most business implementations, it is challenging to undertake wholesale change. Take a hard look at your existing IT solutions and areas where things are no longer working or areas you may have simply outgrown. Are those good candidates for migration to the cloud?

Moving to the cloud might not be as easy as you would think. Find the right partner who can help you along the way and help you build the right solution rather than just selling you a standard product. A terrific example is Web-hosting company C4L who found the right partner in Dell for enabling innovative new customer services using an enhanced virtual private server offering – an easy-to-implement private cloud for your business.

C4L was quick to realise the business potential that the technology presented to the UK hosting market with many small businesses looking for more flexibility with on-premises and off-site services. The cloud infrastructure has enabled the company to launch a new virtual private server offering for direct customers which enables customers to have ultimate command over their virtual private servers and their costs. It’s this flexibility that C4L’s customers and partners have responded to and the creation of a stream of business in the cloud has made a marked contribution to the growth of their business.

With ongoing development in the cloud computing space, business opportunities are forecast to grow. The time is ripe to make sense of what cloud computing can do for you.