Cloud Computing Tips for Small Business - Page 2

By Jill Billhorn
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Factor In Cloud Security

Cloud computing security is one of the big unknowns for companies.  According to the CDW Cloud Computing Tracking Poll, 41 percent survey respondents noted “security concerns” as the top factor hindering adoption of the cloud.  Data security breaches show no sign of slowing down; as a result, some businesses are reluctant to store sensitive, business-critical data in the cloud. 

When it comes to security and cloud computing, small business owners and/or their IT professionals should consider layers of security.  It may mean tightening up existing security or adding additional layers to match the cloud provider’s security measures. 

The added security uniformly protects a company’s assets whether they are inside the public cloud or within the company's own domain.  When an organization uses multiple cloud services, IT professionals may consider using single sign-on access to multiple cloud applications.  Another critical security measure: organizations should always encrypt their data, both while it's in transit and at rest.

Another aspect of IT security to consider includes firewalls and proxies.  Companies need to look at whether the security technologies being used within internal clouds match up to those of potential public cloud providers.  It’s also important to consider how data flows through the firewall-based perimeter to the external cloud.  In some cases, you may want your IT provider to deploy proxy servers that intercept sensitive data for local delivery rather than via the cloud.

If your business deals with highly sensitive data, a private cloud may be your best bet.  A private cloud combines the benefits of a public cloud, such as scalability and metering, with the benefits of private “ownership.”  In other words, businesses own the infrastructure (e.g., servers) in which their data is stored, and only authorized people within their network can access it. 

Businesses that can’t afford going private can consider a hybrid approach, which combines aspects of public and private clouds, giving businesses the option of maintaining their more sensitive data on the private cloud. 

Budget Carefully

In the face of economic realities, many small businesses have had to reduce both budgets and staff, but that doesn’t mean that a business’ IT needs or requests lessen.  Cloud computing can deliver, augment and improve the round-the-clock service your organization relies on. 

With guaranteed services from a cloud provider, small businesses can achieve the level of support their large enterprise counterparts have, without the additional costs.  The bottom line is that cloud computing can ease the demands on smaller in-house IT departments, and let IT professionals focus on mission-critical projects.

The Cloud Computing Tracking Poll found that 35 percent of small businesses have a written strategic plan for the adoption of cloud.  Furthermore, 76 percent of the small businesses implementing or maintaining cloud computing have successfully reduced the cost of applications by moving them to the cloud. 

While the benefits of cloud computing are clear, don’t pursue the cloud on a whim.  Take the time to have a network assessment done by a vendor-neutral service provider to determine your needs and whether a cloud solution is right for your business. 

If your current IT infrastructure needs improving, cloud computing may offer a more cost-efficient option than rebuilding your entire infrastructure.  Whatever your needs may be, the cloud’s customizable and flexible solutions are the perfect option for expanding small businesses, and even for companies just looking to consolidate and de-clutter. 

Jill Billhorn is the vice president, small business at CDW.

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This article was originally published on September 19, 2011
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