Cloud computing is a potential game-changer for SMEs, according to IT consortium, the Open Group.
But most SMEs find the technology confusing and are unsure how to implement it, said the group of suppliers, users and academics.
“Cloud computing allows you to do things more quickly without having specialist skills in house. And it costs you less,” said Chris Harding, director of the Open Group’s cloud working group.
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Cloud computing offers several tiers of service, ranging from software as a service (SaaS), which requires the least in-house infrastructure, to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), which require more IT expertise.
SaaS offers the greatest potential for SMEs, providing them with capabilities traditionally reserved for larger companies, without the need for an internal IT department, according to a guide for SMEs published today.
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A wide range of packages, including ERP, CRM, business intelligence, messaging and collaboration tools, and IT service management, are available as SaaS.
However, organisations need to think carefully about their business needs and assess the solutions available, before buying into the cloud, the Open Group said.
“People in SMEs are quite used to choosing an accountant, lawyers and products. It’s a question of understanding who is around, choosing them and making sure the price is right,” said Harding.
Companies also need to be aware of privacy legislation, which may prevent them storing sensitive data abroad.
“Look before you leap. Cloud can provide you with great benefits, but you need to understand both the benefits and the pitfalls before you dive in,” Harding said.
Download the Open Group’s cloud guide for SMEs.