Experienced IT managers and network engineers may be forgiven for being sceptical towards cloud services when they first arrived. In a way, they have been proven right, going by various outages experienced at Gmail and Office 365 as recent as earlier this year. Indeed, Yahoo email itself suffered an extended outage in mid-December that lasted more than a week for some.


The hiccups have not put a stopper on cloud services, however, given the tangible business benefits that it delivers, as well as the relative scarcity of major outages. When everything is factored into the equation, the pure cloud option is looking to be increasingly appealing to small businesses. We highlight three of the reasons below.


No Need to Invest in Hardware


The greatest benefit of cloud services is arguably the ability to do away with having to purchase costly hardware. This could be in the form of direct equipment firewall appliances, load balancers, storage and servers, to ancillary gear such as server racks, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), and KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse), among others.


Other costs include acquiring the requisite operating systems and application software licenses, as well as paying for the IT contractors (or additional staffers) to deploy and maintain them. Considering that all these would typically have to be paid up-front, it becomes apparent that the pay-as-you-use model is significantly gentler on the pockets of start-ups and small businesses.


Rapid Deployment


One often missed benefit of cloud services is the rapid pace at which services can be provisioned. With cloud providers having embraced automation to keep costs down, the result is that most cloud services are available the moment that credit card payment is approved. Requirements that mandate the deployment of dedicated hardware could take longer, though that shouldn’t take more than a day or two.


Deploying traditional IT equipment is a far cry in comparison: It would take at least a day or two to even get an official quotation, followed by lead-time of days or weeks for the actual equipment to arrive.


Supporting the Mobile Worker


The rise of BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is an often-talked about topic that has been blamed for the decline in PC sales. However, BYOD is really the symptom of a massive change currently underway in how we work: Employees are increasingly gravitating towards mobile workspaces over traditional static office environments.


This new breed of remote workers is actually better served with cloud services such as a virtual phone system, considering the massive hardware investment that would be required to properly support them under the old non-cloud paradigm. This may include the purchase of VPN hardware and other remote access appliances and their pertinent licenses. Internet bandwidth would have to be beefed up, too, translating in higher recurring costs. Finally, organizations concerned about business continuity will also have to replicate their traditional IT setup at another location — which is a cost prohibitive move for most small businesses.


How have you utilized the cloud for your small business? Please share in the comment below.