Quality through flexibility - the increasing demand for bespoke cloud solutions
The term ‘cloud’ is now being used to mean whatever anybody wants it to mean, writes Natalie Stewart, product manager, Node4.
Today you can see anything from hosted servers for SMEs to file-sharing smartphone apps described under the cloud umbrella.
Cloud providers are aware of the increasing vagueness of the term. To deliver true value through a cloud solution, providers are beginning to recognise that SMEs increasingly need cloud solutions that give them specific tools and applications rather than just public or private storage.
Furthermore, employees are using consumer cloud services in the workplace to take advantage of remote working and file sharing regardless of whether the business supports its own cloud solution or not.
This is not a desirable development for SMEs. Sharing potentially sensitive and private information over public consumer cloud storage platforms on all manner of work and personal devices is far from ideal but, as so often happens, consumer demands are leading to new working practices.
As a result, an increasing number of SMEs are looking towards cloud solutions, so they can be sure that employees are storing and sharing data securely at the same time as allowing them to work as they wish to.
However, for an SME, a private cloud solution is likely to cost too much or provide an unnecessary amount of infrastructure given the actual needs of the business. What SMEs need is flexibility.
Storage companies and channel providers are under pressure to deliver far more flexible, customised business cloud services to SMEs. The days of strictly defined public, private, hybrid and community clouds are coming to an end.
Instead it’s about providing more bespoke solutions so that an SME and its employees get exactly the right balance to suit the individual business needs. That is how a cloud provider can deliver genuine quality and value to a business.
The cloud market is undoubtedly growing and there is still an opportunity for technology companies to educate SMEs on what the cloud really means for them.
Scaling down is going to be as common as scaling up, and this is a reality we will have to get used to. On the other hand there is a big opportunity in helping SMEs understand where cloud may not be appropriate and in recognising the merits of alternative storage solutions.
I see us moving towards a market where SMEs increasingly demand (rightly so) cloud providers to offer sound consultation as well as infrastructure and support. When I say consultation I mean real advice explaining the benefits and constraints of each solution in simple terms and where mixing and matching may be advantageous. One-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf solutions are not going to be enough.
Furthermore, it is becoming critical for cloud providers to work far more collaboratively with their customers. SMEs are entitled to expect a provider to work alongside them to find a solution that suits them in terms of what it provides, how much it costs and also how they pay for it. For example, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a usage-based model as opposed to a subscription-based model?
Cloud-based solutions are becoming more sophisticated all the time. For SMEs, the flexibility and quality of the solution are paramount and you need to be sure that the solution you are getting is scalable and built to last.
The ultimate goal is for all cloud providers to ensure that any solution is delivering real value to the business.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Node4 .