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Public Cloud Use Cases for Small Business

The conundrum of Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud and which one is best for a small business is a common topic that many of our small business customers inquire about. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple solution. When a small business owner is in the process of moving to the Cloud and is determining which solution is best for the business, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. In this blog, I will focus on examining Public Cloud use cases and whether a Public Cloud is a good solution for a small business. Before pondering further, let’s define what a Public Cloud is.

Public Cloud – What is it?

A Public Cloud is a multi-tenant environment, where you buy space in a Cloud computing environment that is shared with a number of other clients or tenants. You share the Cloud infrastructure with other organisations and rely on the third-party Cloud service provider for servers, data storage, and applications. This can come in the form of Public Cloud hosting services, such as Windows Azure Services, or storage services like Dropbox.

Are Australian Small Businesses Moving to the Cloud?

In Australia, the Cloud is becoming more mainstream. Results from a study released by Infosys and commissioned from Forrester Research revealed that 81% of respondents are using or planning to use mission-critical applications in the Cloud in the next two years. Australian organisations are leading the way, with 86% of Australian companies already using Cloud in their production environment, while only 50% are doing so in the US, and nearly 60% across Germany, France, and the UK. Gartner forecasted that the Public Cloud services market in Australia would hit $4.15 billion in 2015, a 24% growth from 2014, and this number is expected to reach $4.74 billion in 2016.

There are numerous reasons why Australian small businesses are choosing a public Cloud.

Why Are Australian Small Businesses Choosing a Public Cloud?

A Public Cloud may not be the ideal solution for all small businesses, but there are certainly several benefits that make it an attractive option for many. What follows are some of the reasons why the Public Cloud is a popular choice:

Scalability

With a Public Cloud, infrastructure resources are available on demand, making it easy for a small business to scale up very quickly to meet an increase in traffic. Rather than hiring additional resources and purchasing infrastructure to meet demand, it’s easier for a small business to simply notify the provider when more services are required, and the provider will be able to deploy the resources much faster than is possible with a dedicated network.

Reliability

Hosting your data in a Public Cloud provides an extra level of backup in the event of a disaster or service interruption. Cloud providers have several data centres, so if there is an issue with your site or a data centre, there is another data centre that will be available as backup. A Public Cloud provides that extra layer of protection to ensure that your site stays up and running.

Cost-Effectiveness

The best part about a Public Cloud solution is that you don’t have to pay for the resources you don’t use. This is due to the shared resources of the other organisations that are sharing this same Public Cloud.

Infrastructure Costs

There are none. A Public Cloud will help your business eliminate the upfront infrastructure costs that you would incur with a dedicated network. This scenario allows companies to pay as they go and only pay for what they use, avoiding the upfront costs of paying for infrastructure that they may or may not use. Especially for businesses just starting out, this can be a huge advantage, as they will avoid the large start-up costs of purchasing and managing the hardware and software infrastructure.

Is the Public Cloud for All Small Businesses?

If a Public Cloud sounds good so far, your next step is to ensure that is will be the best scenario for your business. A common concern for small business owners is whether or not a Public Cloud is secure. Again, it’s not that Public Clouds aren’t secure – it’s just that some businesses need additional security. If that’s the case with your business, you may want to opt for a private or hybrid solution. It’s important to consider the amount of security your business will require, how critical your data is, and if there are any regulatory or industry compliance standards that need to be followed. There may be industry guidelines that prevent a business from using a Public Cloud, such as those present in the financial or health care industries, where additional layers of security are needed to protect confidential and private information.

If your small business needs additional security a private or hybrid Cloud may be the right solution for you.

Which Small Businesses Are Using a Public Cloud?

Businesses of all types use a Public Cloud, but as I mentioned above, it isn’t ideal for all industries. Less sensitive companies, or organisations that require their Cloud resources quickly and cheaply and have less critical data, favour a Public Cloud scenario, as there are several advantages. What follows are five public Cloud use cases, demonstrating small businesses that would benefit from this solution:

Public Cloud Use Case 1: Start-Ups

Public Clouds are a good choice for start-ups that don’t have access to a surplus of capital since a Public Cloud eliminates the up-front costs of expensive infrastructure by utilizing the Cloud provider’s servers, hardware, and software. Start-ups will also benefit from the expertise of their Cloud provider, eliminating the need to hire costly IT resources. This will reduce the IT resources and associated costs by outsourcing the management and maintenance of the IT to the provider. Public Clouds also help cash-strapped start-ups as providers generally offer them on a pay-as-you-go basis, keeping costs down by allowing businesses to pay for only the resources they require. This is especially important for small business owners that may not know what to expect in their first year and aren’t sure of what to expect in terms of spikes in traffic.

Public Cloud Use Case 2: Seasonal Businesses

Businesses with seasonal spikes in website traffic that require the ability to adjust their resources accordingly will benefit from a Public Cloud scenario. A Public Cloud allows these organisations to scale up or down as needed, both easily and affordably. We have heard the horror stories of sites going down due to large spikes in traffic, especially during peak shopping times like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For eCommerce sites that need the ability to scale up or down according to website traffic, a Public Cloud is a safe scenario, as they can rely on their hosting provider to adjust resources accordingly, which reduces their risk of having a site disruption during key sales times.

Public Cloud Use Case 3: Reduce CAPEX

Whether it’s a small business that’s just starting out and has limited access to capital, or a mature organisation looking to cut costs, moving to a Public Cloud scenario will allow an organization to reduce their capital expenditure (CAPEX) and move to an operational expenditure (OPEX). Rather than investing funds in acquiring and constantly upgrading infrastructure, moving to a Public Cloud will allow an organisation to outsource the infrastructure to the Cloud service provider, which will allow a more favourable OPEX model, where the business pays a month-to-month, subscription-based fee.

Public Cloud Use Case 4: Heavy Marketing and Social Networking Presence

Companies with an aggressive marketing strategy that run several campaigns a year will benefit from a Public Cloud solution. If the company is running temporary marketing campaigns or having to develop promotional sites quite frequently, a Public Cloud provides the opportunity to launch sites and scale resources quickly and efficiently, adding resources as needed, and paying only for what is used. Companies can also move their testing environments to the Public Cloud and test campaigns prior to launch to work out any bugs. Additionally, with our reliance on social networking, a Public Cloud is the perfect place to migrate less sensitive data, like blogs, forums, and communities, to the Cloud.

Public Cloud Use Case 5: Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery (DR) has become more attainable for small business thanks to the Public Cloud. What used to be affordable only by large organisations, due to the expense of maintaining the backup systems that are unused 95% of the year, is now affordable for small businesses as well, thanks to the Public Cloud. Disaster recovery in the Cloud allows companies to access DR when needed -– and pay for it only when they use it. For smaller companies that may lack the budget, expertise, and resources to implement a DR plan, they can hand this off to their Cloud hosting provider to manage. Furthermore, rather than having just one backup for your dedicated server, the service provider’s data centres are geographically dispersed, so if one goes down, you can utilize another.

If you are contemplating making a move to a Public Cloud, these cases should help you to determine whether this is the right solution for your business. When deciding, ensure that you consider the following factors:

  • Budget: What is your IT budget?
  • Security: Do you have any industry regulations or compliance requirements that will prevent you from using a Public Cloud?
  • Resources: What internal resources do you currently have and can you benefit from the expertise of a Cloud provider?
  • Disaster Recovery: What is your current disaster recovery and what are your needs for the imminent future?
  • Readiness: Is your business ready to move to the Cloud?

If you would like more information on how we can help you migrate to the Cloud, contact us today. StudioCoast has been helping Australian small businesses with their hosting needs since 2002. Contact StudioCoast today.

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