Five Best Practices for SMBs to Maximize Cloud Investments

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Five Best Practices for SMBs to Maximize Cloud Investments

By Erin Harrison

In an uncertain economy, small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are challenged with integrating and maintaining their technology assets with few resources – especially if they want to keep a competitive edge.

SMBs in particular are challenged to find ways to reduce the strain of such upkeep and still maintain a competitive edge by continuing to drive innovation. In fact, more than 30 percent of SMBs anticipate technology spending to remain flat in 2013, making it more critical than ever for these companies to properly allocate time and resources, according to the Winter 2012 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot.

Cloud communications provider Cbeyond recently outlined five top five tips to help businesses save resources dedicated to managing and maintaining cloud servers before, during or post cloud implementation. The guidelines, which are part of Cbeyond’s “Technology Ally” best practices series, are designed to help SMBs realize the full potential of their IT investments and better serve customers, according to Brent Cobb, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Cbeyond.

“Cloud technologies should provide businesses with the flexibility to plan for continued growth,” Cobb said in a statement. “Taking a few basic steps now to eliminate hurdles that impede the efficiency of the cloud will enable teams to better assign IT resources and reach their goals faster.”

To eliminate some of the resource burdens of cloud management, Cbeyond recommends the following five best practices:

1) Account for all Expenses: When moving from using on-premise equipment to cloud servers a successful cloud model should take all operational expenses, such as administration and maintenance costs, into account. Maintenance costs for data, application, middleware, operating system, virtualization, server, storage, network and data center assets alone usually comprise 75 percent to 90 percent of IT budgets. This practice enables businesses to accurately evaluate the cost-benefit of utilizing the cloud. A periodic cost-maintenance plan helps businesses work more efficiently as well as anticipate and react to operational changes faster.

2) Bundle Resources: When businesses leverage the cloud, they need both cloud services and network connectivity to the cloud. Instead of relying on multiple vendors to provide each technology, consider purchasing both through a single provider. Bundling eliminates the hassles of managing multiple support teams, ensures no finger-pointing in the event technical support is required, simplifies billing and typically involves a significant cost-saving.

3) Add Resources as Needed: A key benefit of using cloud services is the ability to add resources on the fly. This eliminates the headache of having to research, forecast and buy costly on-premise equipment such as servers and PBX phone systems upfront, each time aging equipment needs to be replaced. Work with a cloud vendor that has resource flexibility such as the ability to add memory, storage, and compute resources on demand.

4) Don’t Underestimate the Cloud: The cloud provides enormous benefits in terms of flexibility, manageability and cost. Keep in mind that the cloud can apply to many more technology needs today than is commonly understood. Want business-class e-mail? The cloud can help. Need to host an application? The cloud is there. Want a flexible phone system that connects multiple locations? The cloud is there too.

5) Keep the Team Cloud-Ready: Brief teams frequently on the status of cloud processes and applications. Regular, scheduled communications will provide greater visibility into projects, and avoid having to waste time briefing multiple teams at multiple times.




Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

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