Cloud computing will give small and medium-sized companies computing capabilities previously only affordable for large businesses. But suppliers will need to change the way they offer cloud services to make them more accessible to small businesses, a roundtable meeting has heard.
"The cloud takes web to the next level," said Clive Longbottom, service director at consultancy Quocirca. "Small companies can suddenly have access to technology that they could only dream of before, and not only that, but they also get the opportunity to be far more flexible than they have been in the past."
But suppliers need to make it easier for small companies to buy-in to cloud computing when they need it, said Longbottom, speaking at a roundtable debate organised by software asset management specialist Fast Limited.
"It is going to be a case of 'I want to use that now to do this, how much is it going to cost me, and you better let me know in milliseconds because I'm working in a transactional place.' So we need the means to negotiate technical contracts within the cloud which we haven't yet got," he said.
Atul Hindocha, an IS transformation specialist, formerly at Centrica, said the cloud offered SMEs a low-risk way of expanding their IT.
"If you have an SME that may be looking for significant growth in the year, it is really easy to make the decision on cloud computing - you are gong to look at how flexible you need to be, and ultimately if you move to the cloud you know that you don't need to buy into that infrastructure," he said.
Ronan Miles, chairman of the Oracle UK User Group, said the biggest problem facing SMEs is that they do not understand how to use IT effectively - an issue that suppliers need to address if the cloud is to take off in smaller businesses.
"We have developed a huge language of complexity that we are immersing our customers in. The cloud industry is selling to itself. We are selling IT to IT. Now how does that truly move us forward?" he said.
"Businesses want to buy service: they don't want to buy IT, because if they did they would run it themselves. At the moment, cloud wants to supply IT but it needs to supply business," he said.
Sign-up to Computer Weekly to download a full report on Fast Limited's roundtable debate on cloud computing.
The debate covers:
- Gartner market size predictions
- Impact of cloud on software licensing
- Cloud hype by suppliers
- Security and reliability risks of cloud
- Proposed code of practice on cloud
- Clive Longbottom, service director, business process analysis, Quocirca
- Ian Moyse, EMEA channel director, Webroot
- Steve Ware, director UK, Ireland and Israel, Oracle
- Atul Hindocha, interim CIO/transformation director for Centrica, Diageo, Kingfisher Group, HMV Group
- Xabier Ormazabal, senior manager product marketing, Salesforce.com
- Darren Ratcliffe, chief architect, Fujitsu,
- Nick Coleman, leader for cloud security, IBM
FAST Ltd, is a UK authority on Software Asset Management and IT Compliance, providing software, education, consulting and managed services.