The cloud has levelled the playing field for small firms


9 Nov 2010

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With cloud adoption set to grow by a massive 67pc in the next two years, the cloud represents a huge opportunity for Irish businesses.

Ulf Avrin, senior partner at Tellus International, has predicted almost 70pc global cloud adoption over the next two years and he believes that there has never been a better time for SMEs to migrate to the cloud.

"Very soon this will be a mass market. It is very exciting: 67pc (take-up) would be quicker that any technological curve in recent years, including mobile phones."

Avrin said, however, that some key components to integrating businesses to the cloud – education and bringing in help – must be overcome first.

"There are many definitions of the cloud, many slightly different and a lot very technical. We need to take it to a higher level of simplicity. Part of the problem is we are confusing ourselves. It is about shared services, not for a customer but for a market," Avrin said.

Quoting a Gartner estimate that by 2010, 80pc of Fortune 1,000 enterprises will be using cloud-computing services and 20pc of businesses will own no IT assets, Avrin said this sort of transition will involve building in enterprise.

"There is a big move towards buying rather than building in enterprise."

This sort of move would certainly favour start-up companies or SMEs, according to Clare Dillon, developer and platform group lead, Microsoft Ireland, who believes this to be a golden opportunity for businesses to migrate to the cloud.

"The cloud represents a huge opportunity for Ireland. It has levelled the playing field for small companies. Global market access for small companies has been made easier," she said.

"It (the cloud) is a golden opportunity for start-up companies and more nimble Irish companies to achieve success."

Dillon insisted that no obstacle should prevent smaller, more nimble companies from converting to the cloud – even IT concerns.

"There won’t really be a stumbling block to smaller companies migrating to the cloud. IT can now be advisers to small businesses more than their traditional roles, telling them what applications to use to better focus on their growth," she said.

The more companies that transition to the cloud the better, according to Dillon, who believes that such a migration can build on Ireland’s already impeccable customer service and service delivery.

"For the first time, companies have to care whether or not customers succeed.

"We already have a pedigree of providing good customer service in Ireland and this will help us build on that," added Dillon.

Avrin discussed the wider impact that the cloud can have on global business. He referenced the Bessemer Model White Paper – which lists 10 laws of cloud computing and software-as-a-service – and earmarked it as a guideline for any business, insisting that a savvy online marketing presence, such as social media marketing is a core competence for a success, but only if the transition suits the business.

"Think before transition, don’t jump in," he said, adding that customers need to think the move through because "everything changes with cloud computing".

"There is benefit to everyone in the cloud ecosystem and there is no need to be scared," Avrin said.

He contends that despite the many benefits to the cloud – among them scalability, ease of deployment, lower costs and reliability of the platform – there are still some issues that need to be considered.

"There are still issues such as security, availability and performance that must be addressed. While awareness is being amplified, there are still some blocks. Addressing challenging issues is critical for adoption," he said.

He compared using the cloud to using electricity and insisted the customer only use what they need and "follow the load as necessary". He also labelled the cloud as one of the "most critical investments CIOs are contemplating today".

Silicon Republic has embarked on its Cloud Centre campaign to better inform businesses about opportunities in cloud computing. To visit our Cloud Centre, click here

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