Despite the recent cloud computer craze, many small and medium enterprises, referred to as SMEs, are still hesitant to fully embrace cloud computing technology. In fact, according to a recent survey completed in the United Kingdom, approximately half of all SMEs operating in the country still use in-house systems for all of their IT needs. Although the United States seems to be slightly ahead of the curve in terms of utilizing cloud technology, many SMEs located in the U.S. share the same concerns as their U.K-based counterparts.
Connectivity / Accessibility
One of the biggest concerns cited by SME leaders around the world revolves around connectivity and being able to access their data whenever it is needed. While this isn't much of a concern for larger networks, SMEs on the other hand, especially those who operate on a single connection, will ultimately have to deal with the bottleneck that plagues traditional high-speed Internet users. Fiber Internet helps to ease some of the burden related to connection issues, but this isn't available in all areas.
Another concern revolves around the day-to-day management of data servers. By using internal network hardware, SMEs are able to control every aspect of their own IT services.
During a recent interview, an anonymous business owner expressed their own reason for staying away from the cloud, stating simply: "Cloud technologies force you to relinquish control in too many areas, are far more costly to implement than service providers will admit to up front and have many risks associated."
However, many small business owners are realizing the value in outsourcing some IT functionality to the cloud, mainly email and backup services, which allows them to streamline the daily operations and lessen the load on their internal IT team.
The director of an anonymous charity explained how they use cloud services to support their own operations by saying: "The cloud feature we currently use is email spam filtration. Filtering email offsite takes some load off the mail server and the cost is cheaper than buying spam filtering software."
Those who have already embraced the cloud generally have positive comments. The operations manager of a UK-based courier firm pointed out some useful aspects of the newly developed cloud computing industry by stating: "Well-defined SAAS services are a good business fit, require little management and are reasonably cost effective."
As with any new technology, the ongoing security of cloud servers, specifically data breaches or data loss, is of the utmost concern. Every computer system is susceptible to being hacked, stolen or corrupted. Furthermore, even off-site servers that are protected with the most up-to-date security features may be tampered with by disgruntled staff members or industry insiders.
This particular threat was highlighted in a recent report written by the Cloud Security Alliance, which outlined some of the biggest cloud computing threats that we currently face. "Even if encryption is implemented, if the keys are not kept with the customer and are only available at data-usage time, the system is still vulnerable to malicious insider attack." The CSA report stated bluntly.
Small and Medium Enterprises Still Wary of Cloud Services
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