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Connecting SMBs to the Cloud

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013

As companies look to gain a competitive edge while scrambling to stay ahead of technological innovations, the latest standard in IT is third party cloud storage and sync services. Cloud solutions can drive up profits and streamline workflow for a wide range of SMBs. Through private clouds SMBs can take advantage of savings and worker flexibility previously only accessible to larger enterprises. According to McKinsey’s SMB Cloud Report, the public cloud market is projected to hit $40 to $50 billion by 2015, with SMBs making up 65 percent of the public cloud spending.

Sanjay Ravi, Managing Director of Discrete Manufacturing for Microsoft Corp.

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com

Currently, small businesses remain divided as to their approach to the cloud, as shown by a recent RightScale survey. About 75 percent of businesses surveyed are involved to some degree in cloud projects. And around 17 percent of the market is currently planning on making the switch, but nearly 10 percent still choose to opt out of cloud services altogether out of security concerns or lack of understanding. But there’s no reason to stay out of the game, especially when private clouds can offer the benefits of cloud computing without the risk of a security breach.

SMBs and the cloud

Infograph courtesy of RingCentral.com

With all of the benefits that cloud computing promises for all sectors of the market, don’t risk falling behind just out of ignorance. Proper protections through private cloud services can help you push profits while giving you peace of mind. In a recent interview about cloud computing and the manufacturing sector, Sanjay Ravi, Managing Director of Discrete Manufacturing for Microsoft Corp., talked about the common fears some SBMs still have. “There is the fear that the time, money and resources invested into previous IT systems would be wasted, or the systems would need to be thrown out. There are also a lot of security and compliance concerns about the public cloud.  While some existing IT components may need to be adjusted, the overall benefits far outweigh the cost of this adjustment,” said Ravi.

Benefits of the cloud

Infograph courtesy of Microsoft.com

But as he put it, the benefits offer far too much to be ignored. Despite security fears, Ravi asserts, “Smaller Companies can leverage cloud services to bring sophisticated enterprise-level security, backup, and redundancy capabilities to their solutions – capabilities they might not have been able to afford with their limited IT resources…Cloud provides companies of all sizes the opportunity to innovate and either migrate existing solutions to a cloud environment to reduce cost and gain increased agility, or implement new business models and processes at high velocity and at lower costs.”

Furthermore, cloud computing gives small businesses the leverage to offer competitive flexible work solutions for the modern mobile employee. Though Yahoo has recently made headlines for going against the stream by requiring the company’s previously mobile employees to come back into the office, the benefits of a mobile workforce has unleashed even greater employee productivity. According to Michael Goodenough, writing for Forbes, mobile employees are “more efficient and willing to work longer hours because they have the privilege and flexibility of working remotely.” And private cloud services even allow smaller businesses to unlock Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

While BYOD policies normally pose a security risk due to the possibility of third party attacks and data theft, through private cloud services, proper protections can be put in place so that employees can safely and conveniently access encrypted corporate systems with their own devices. Employees enjoy greater mobility, employers get more productivity, and IT teams will have a lighter load without having to maintain as much on-site hardware and infrastructure. Through the cloud, SMBs cut costs on server capacity and large IT teams, while enjoying greater flexibility, productivity, and ultimately more profits. But to fully capitalize on the cloud, it’s essential to make the switch to a truly private service.

Connecting to the cloud

Image courtesy of BalboaCapital.com

Privacy for Patients

For true user privacy, only anonymous cloud storage and sync services like SpiderOak provide all the convenience and savings of the cloud while guarding against hacking and security breaches. SpiderOak stands out from the crowded cloud market by offering complete data privacy and user anonymity. Through 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor password authentication, SpiderOak makes sure that business records, folder names, filenames, and passwords cannot be read or even accessed by SpiderOak and its employees.

As for two-factor authentication, this is similar to banking and financial services that require a PIN or correct answer to a secret question as an extra precaution. For SpiderOak, this means submitting a private code through SMS in addition to the encrypted password to log in. Once successfully logged in, SMBs can store and sync with 100 percent privacy, as SpiderOak has “zero-knowledge” of uploaded data and plaintext encryption keys. This means that the data encryption key for individual passwords is exclusively stored on each user’s computer. That way, every bit of sensitive company data is kept fully anonymous. SpiderOak’s services are available with Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop environments, along with Android and iOS mobile platforms, granting SMBs flexibility along with security.

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