The on-going debate of private vs. public cloud, leaves many decision makers with a difficult decision – whether to go with a private cloud deployment, public cloud deployment, or a hybrid combination. However, the reality for SMEs is much simpler – ultimately being public cloud.

Much of these debates often end with a not so resounding supposition of the type of cloud provision being dependant on the unique factors of the individual organisation. Although this can be said for each decision a business makes, the truth is that private cloud solutions can result in SMEs overprovisioning, lacking state-of-the-art security and not realising the true elasticity of the cloud.

While, on the other hand, public cloud solutions are the most widely applicable and deliver the most value to a majority of SMEs.

Yet many tarnish public cloud models as risk to data security – a fatal misconception.

Security should indeed be a primary concern for any cloud-based deployment, and although a private cloud model allows an organisation’s IT department to control the perimeter, it also have to remain on top of a fast evolving security landscape; maintaining all the required fixes, updates and upgrades. Whereas Public cloud providers take care of all that – and it is in their best interest to do so.

The term ‘public cloud’ may not inspire great confidence, but such models delivered by reputable Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) segregate virtual resources – by providing each customer with a unique VLAN, their public cloud solution is delivered privately – meaning that only authorised users can access the organisation’s systems and data.

Large scale data centres, such as those used by CSPs, implement state-of-the-art security on software and hardware levels.

In reality, the majority of SMEs do not have the resources to implement security measures that meet these standards. Data centres provide their services to a large number of businesses; deploying the latest preventions, and improving disaster recovery and network security, on a large-scale is highly economical, enabling a highly secure environment – with such savings passed down to the customer.

Once a business is able to see through the shroud of security misconceptions, the business benefits and financial gains a public cloud model offers is irresistible.

The entirely virtual nature of this solution means that the cost of the hardware hosting the infrastructure and virtual desktops is irrelevant; when the servers leave the building so do all of the associated costs. That represents significant long-term savings.

Beyond the savings made on the infrastructure, the pay-as-you-go model bypasses the cost of software licensing, deployment, and updating – invaluable to SMEs with limited IT resources.

The universal aim of reducing IT expenditure, coupled with pressure from the work force, has also given rise to the growing number of organisations implementing a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy. Although many find managing such policies a challenge.

How do SMEs address the challenges of BYOD? The answer is simple – Mobile Device Management (MDM).

A MDM service applies and manages an organisations BYOD policy to authorised devices, including the management of user security levels and controlling access to corporate resources. These systems provide businesses with a simple solution to remove corporate data or lock down the device if, for example, it is lost or the employee leaves the business.

Security to the corporate network is furthered with public cloud-based hosted desktop models.

Hosted desktop solutions do not store data on the device. Providing the user and device comply with the organisations BYOD policy, access to data and systems is gained through a Citrix gateway authentication process – allowing the user to securely access to their virtual desktop on the go, while safeguarding the business.

The true mobility that can be achieved through such methods are soon to become ever more important, with the imminent changes in flexible working regulations.

As of 30th June 2014 the right to request flexible working hours will be extended, beyond parents, to all employees, after 26 weeks of continuous employment. By having a cloud solution in place, SMEs will have the ability to work with their staff and create a flexible and mobile working environment – an essential element of any employee retention strategy.

Any SME looking to invest in IT needs to consider the possibilities of what they could achieve in the Cloud.

“The Cloud allows small businesses to leave the operational IT work to the experts, it substantially reduces the risks, unexpected expenses, and capital expenditure associated with maintaining and owning a full IT suite. The majority of SMEs will find the ability to outsource the technology to a capable CSP invaluable” – Tony Capewell (Managing Director, Your IT Works)

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