Thanks to cloud computing, small and medium-sized businesses can lower operating costs by avoiding expensive upfront hardware and software investments, as well as improve employee collaboration so workers can communicate through video conferencing on a number of devices. In the United States, SMBs are increasingly warming to the cloud, according to a recent survey conducted by Microsoft.
Microsoft found that 65 percent of U.S. SMBs believe the cloud is crucial for their businesses, and this figure is projected to surpass 80 percent in two years. While this development is certainly positive for cloud vendors, 59 percent of SMBs said they consider privacy policies provided by service providers to be critical when selecting a cloud solution.
The survey also found that more than 50 percent of SMBs require cloud vendors to provide proof of compliance with their solutions, while 43 percent insist they compete a self-assessment. Nearly 60 percent of respondents seek privacy provisions during contract negotiations with cloud service providers.
"Not long ago, the IT industry wondered if privacy concerns would prevent small and midsize companies from moving to the cloud," Microsoft chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch said. "Our research indicates that is not the case. Instead, SMBs are expressing their interest in data protection by using it as a way to evaluate potential cloud providers."
Cloud computing, unified communications a perfect match
SMBs looking to solutions to take their IT departments to another level may want to pair their cloud deployments with unified communications, according to industry experts. SYS-CON Media's Karil Reibold recently explained that cloud-based UC is especially beneficial for companies supporting mobile workers who use smartphones and tablets, allowing them to be productive regardless of location.
For growing businesses, cloud computing and unified communications allow companies to avoid constant hardware upgrades and software licensing lifecycle management, according to the writer. When choosing a potential cloud vendor, companies should consider several requirements before implementing their clouds.
"Make sure that your partner regularly updates their solutions, and as new features become available they can be deployed on a per-user basis or to the entire company so that you can take advantage of them," Reibold added.
As more organizations of all sizes realize the potential of both cloud computing and unified communications, the markets for both solutions will undoubtedly continue their rapid ascension.