In our increasingly globalised world, small businesses need an working communications network to span the geographically distributed sections of the company. But the business applications required to achieve this are an pricey proposal in our current economic climate. This is making it progressively troublesome for smaller firms to contend with big corporations who hold seemingly infinite budgets. But we are now seeing the emergence of multi-tenanted business applications based upon a price-per-user model, or in other words, the Public Cloud. This is allowing youthful firms to enjoy enterprise level services, security and products, at a fraction of the cost.
Now is the time to begin “Thinking Big” – and employing communications to get there. With Cloud Computing, instead of running Desktops, Applications, Exchange or Voice through physical in-house servers, they are hosted on centralised virtual servers in a data centre. This entire procedure is instant to setup and painless to use; you just login, customise and begin. Applications are more scalable, more secure and more reliable as you don’t need a copy of an app for every department using it, just one app which is resilient enough for everyone to customise for their own unique wants. You can instantly provision applications whenever you demand them as the end user directly controls the resources they require. This allows organisations endeavoring to adapt to the pace and dynamism of business today to deploy highly resilient virtual machines for their employees, dawning a new era of flexibility.
Managers are starting to realise a change in the dynamics of their businesses now that employees can be networked more cost-effectively, no matter where in the world they are. Employees can benefit from increased mobility with access to their individual desktop user profile from any device – Laptop, Thin Client or iPad – from anyplace in the globe within range of a 3G network. This makes it easy to connect individuals and offices in one cohesive, responsive unit in which users share and synchronise emails, diaries and files. Small firms can hire home-based workers, or open small branch offices, or more effectively connect employees on their mobiles to deliver seamless, customer service as easily as a large corporation. Cloud Computing also furthers staff productivity and innovation by allowing for access to the latest technology without the need for any investment in upgrades so small businesses get first class IT on a global scale without having to spend a penny.
IT executives have raised some concerns about the security of their data in the Cloud. But since all data and applications are centralised in a data centre, it is vastly simpler to enable and enforce processes and procedures to ensure security, privacy and other best practices. No data is stored on a device, so you never have to worry about proprietary data coming into the wrong hands if the device itself is missing, stolen or breaks. This is particularly noteworthy with potentially gigabytes of sensitive corporate data sitting on the desk of every member of staff.
But some executives are still hesitant to take the step: their perspective is that they would no longer be able to ‘touch and feel’ the systems which drive their business. Alex Parker, CTO of Commensus PLC is not surprised by this reaction, but feels there is adequate experience of remote working to allay those fears. “Data centres have been on the scene for three decades or more: Cloud computing is plainly a logical progression of that service. There has been little evidence of companies experiencing problems with access to data and with comprehensive service level agreements that specify virtually uninterrupted availability, any remaining concerns should be set aside.”
Most businesses are small (over 98% have less than 100 employees) and they like it that way: they value the flexibility, responsiveness and customer interaction. It is clearer than ever that the competitiveness of an organisation is now less based on its size than ever before. By having effective use of today’s communications capabilities, small organisations can contend against anyone, anytime, anywhere, of any size. If you think it, you can do it. With the development of cloud technology and the applications and solutions available to small business, the sky really is the limit and size is no longer an issue.