Cloud Computing: Benefits and challenges to SMBs in India

Cloud Computing: Benefits and challenges to SMBs in India

SMBs who use cloud computing will take their businesses to a higher level of professionalism, efficiency and resilience. Read on to know how.

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Cloud computing has completely changed the technology game for small and medium businesses (SMBs) by providing world-class, scalable technology infrastructure and functionality more easily. This is a paradigm shift in which computing resources and cutting-edge software are available to even the smallest companies on a pay-per-use model. Technologies—hardware or software—that were previously only available to large corporates, are now easily available to small businesses as well, via cloud computing.

Adopting cloud computing provides many benefits to SMBs. Flexibility is a key advantage. Instead of buying or leasing extensive computer hardware to cater for a few periods of peak demand, it is very easy to shrink or grow the use of computing or storage based on requirements on a daily or hourly basis. This can give SMBs a competitive advantage by improving their overall operational performance while enabling peak performance like most large companies.

Secondly, data recovery is a key benefit. Data loss can be catastrophic for a business. Robust data recovery infrastructure requires technical investment and expertise. Cloud computing offers greater resilience in dealing with incidents and quick data recovery, if required.

Thirdly, using cloud-based software enables automatic software upgrades. Instead of the IT department manually updating software for SMBs, cloud-based applications are updated automatically. This feature saves time, ensures the availability of current versions of software, and could prevent cyber security vulnerabilities that arise from outdated patches.

Fourth, teams can edit, access and share documents from anywhere. Cloud based applications can help teams collaborate in real-time, enhancing productivity and take away concerns such as those that relate to document version control. In a post-pandemic world, enabling seamless collaboration amongst team members who are not physically located together is a key competitive advantage.

SMBs who use cloud computing will take their businesses to a higher level of professionalism, efficiency and resilience. However, there are some common challenges in an SMB’s journey to the cloud. A primary factor is executing on an unplanned strategy. Planning the migration from on-premise data centres to the cloud is an essential part of any cloud migration: it requires cost analysis, employee training, realistic timelines, and a seamless migration. Secondly, SMBs need to decide which workloads to move and in what order. An agile approach where small steps are taken on a regular basis has several benefits. Analysing the data that needs to migrate, and moving the least critical pieces first, leads to the best outcome.

Another challenge many SMBs face is lack of the required technology skill-sets. This can be solved by the deployment of a combination of temporary consultants, upskilling existing technology resources and hiring for the right skills. The upside of cloud computing should make this investment worthwhile.

Whatever be the line of business of the SMB, data privacy and security are key concerns. Businesses should be aware of where their data will be stored, how it will be encrypted, the privacy policies of the cloud provider and any applicable security regulations. Most cloud providers will be able to explain these important aspects since they will likely have regulated entities such as banks as customers.

While the journey to cloud computing may seem daunting initially, the multitude of measurable benefits of this transition should encourage it. From a pure cost-benefit lens, the move should pay for itself. From an operational excellence and resiliency point of view, cloud computing will elevate a company. All businesses are either built on the cloud or are moving to it. What is holding you back?

Views are personal. Shrestha is Director of Innovation and Tech Partnerships at Rise India by Barclays; Sasubilli is Global Technology Systems Management, Barclays Global Services Centre.