The cloud has a lot to offer small businesses, but it can also come with a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before committing to a contract.
Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of cloud computing for small businesses:
Pro: Poised for growth
Unlike an on-premises data center, which is stagnant unless you invest the time and money needed to expand your server capacity, the cloud is highly scalable. Since your vendor will handle all data center management on your behalf, you must do little more than provision the storage space that you need. This is ideal for small businesses, which don’t need the same volume of storage as larger enterprises.
In the cloud, you can start your cloud contract with a small amount of storage space. As your business grows, you can easily provision additional cloud services to match your evolving demands. You will never find yourself running out of storage capacity and won’t need to scale your data center on your own. Expanding your capacity will be as easy as paying to increase your storage.
Con: Cost optimization
The cloud does allow small businesses to save on the initial costs of setting up on-premises hardware and software, but most organizations are still struggling to optimize their cloud spending. Cost management has been the No. 1 focus among cloud adopters since 2017, but these organizations are nonetheless finding it difficult to get a handle on their cloud expenditures.
The issues surrounding cloud cost optimization boils down to one major factor: ongoing costs. While the cloud is available for (typically) modest monthly payments, the majority of adopters are wasting more of their cloud spend than they think. Those that fail to close workloads at the end of the business day, right-size their cloud instances, and do away with inactive storage space end up spending more on the cloud each month. Additional expenses that stem from customized software can lead to even higher cloud bills.
Pro: Improved disaster recovery
With a solid disaster recovery plan, you can mitigate the effects of data loss and keep your small business running should the worst happen. Centering your business’ disaster recovery plan around the cloud will make it far easier to restore your system after an outage or any other situation that leads to data loss. With cloud storage, you will be able to create multiple copies of the same file and house them in off-site servers that won’t succumb to the same disasters as your own facility. In many cases, you can set up your cloud to create automatic backups so your information will always be up to date. Having these backups in the cloud will allow you to restore any lost information in a matter of minutes.
Con: Risk of downtime
The cloud promises better reliability than on-premises solutions and, for the most part, it does. However, no cloud provider can guarantee 100 percent uptime, no matter how hard they try. In June 2019 Google experienced a five-hour outage that took down many of its other services. Apple iCloud had a similar outage in 2015, but it lasted seven hours. Unexpected outages like these can bring your entire business to a grinding halt until they are fixed.
Pro: Better accessibility
Cloud platforms don’t require your employees to be tethered to their desks all day every day. Since they access these services via the Internet, they can use desktop computers, smartphones, and other devices to connect to your cloud platform. Moreover, your team will have access to all your files and software even if they don’t have a physical presence in the office. Whether they’re traveling or working remotely, they will be able to log in to their cloud accounts and get their work done.
The accessibility of the cloud also fosters better collaboration among your workforce. Team members can access and share files through your cloud platform, which allows them to work on documents together and see others’ updates as they happen.
Con: Requires an Internet connection
Migrating your business to the cloud can be an excellent choice, but only if you have a reliable Internet connection. Depending on how much you house in your cloud environment, you could be without essential services if your Internet goes down.
Make sure to work with a reliable ISP when you’re looking to implement cloud services. It’s also crucial to ensure that you have sufficient Internet speeds and bandwidth to support your cloud needs.
Pro & con: Security
Cloud security is a mixed bag. By migrating your small business to the cloud, you’ll access security solutions that you might not be able to deploy on your own. Your cloud provider will also leverage security protocols to help you facilitate better regulatory compliance and even mitigate the risk of DDoS attacks.
Concerns about the security of the cloud remain, however. Since the cloud is available through a shared responsibility model, your vendor won’t handle every single aspect of security. Your small business will still need to employ its own measures to ensure the safety of its cloud resources. Not even the most sophisticated cloud vendor is completely resistant to data breaches, so you’ll need to ensure that you have the right safeguards in place to bolster your security.