Cloud introduces new challenges, advantages for small firms

Cloud computing offers a unique opportunity for enterprises to deploy next-generation applications for a cost that's relatively lower than legacy systems. Small businesses, on the other hand, often have fewer financial and managerial resources, making cloud projects slightly more complicated, according to a PC Advisor report. The low initial cost and simple deployment of the public cloud are some of the reasons why many small firms launch the technology in the first place. Ill-planned deployments, however, lead to security and privacy vulnerabilities that can negatively impact cloud performance and overall operations, the news source said. In an effort to combat these issues, many small business decision-makers look to the private cloud to host mission-critical solutions on-site. But since these particular projects often come at a heftier price, they are sometimes out of reach from the smallest organizations. This dilemma raises the question as to whether small firms should look to the cloud at all. But the answer remains yes. Complications aside, small companies that implement the cloud will often experience significant improvements in productivity and agility, giving them a competitive edge over firms debating whether to launch the cloud. A study by Edge Strategies revealed the number of small firms leveraging the cloud will triple by 2015, largely because of the technology's ability to let small companies use enterprise-class solutions. "The cloud levels the playing field for , helping them compete in today's quickly changing business environment, by spending less time and money on IT and more time focused on their most important priority - growing their businesses," Microsoft executive Marco Limena said. Another report by AMI-Partners revealed that SMB cloud services investments are forecast to reach $34 billion by the end of 2012. While the cloud may introduce new challenges to small companies, leveraging the technology will most likely reap significant advantages.

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