So you’re thinking of moving your business to the cloud, and why not? Servers are hosted from the cloud, data is stored in the cloud. Sounds too good to be true right? Who wouldn’t want their business to be simpler to manage whilst cutting costs at the same time? Well, moving servers or data storage to the cloud isn’t right for every company. You need to weigh up the pros and cons, Is “the Cloud” right for you?

The first stage is moving your data to the cloud. Sounds simple however you need to ensure that you find a suitable provider for your needs as they will be responsible for the security and privacy of your data.

Something else to consider, especially for SME’s is that any interruption to your internet be it due to technical fault or poor bandwith, you run the risk of losing access to any of your Emails, applications or data.

There is an alternative approach, which has similar benefits to the cloud and that is to use virtual servers on a local machine. You can then choose which applications and services you wish to operate off-site. If done correctly this can run off of a single machine, reducing costs even further and can still be accessed online.

Businesses can take advantage of cloud applications and services such as Salesforce for managing sales and customer relationships, remote offsite backups can serve as an effective means of backing up and/or sharing data.

The core servers and applications the business relies on, however, can be maintained locally without the pitfalls of the cloud. Small and medium businesses don’t have to install or maintain a complete data center to accomplish that, either. With the right hardware, an entire IT infrastructure including virtual servers and data storage can be managed from one machine. Administration is simplified, power and cooling costs are minimized, and—most importantly—the virtual servers and data can still be made available over the Web to achieve the same ubiquitous accessibility as a cloud application.

To be fair, the hardware, software, Internet connectivity, and other elements of the IT infrastructure are prone to the same risks and issues whether maintained locally, or hosted in the cloud. SMBs need to consider the tradeoffs of cost, security, availability, and maintenance, and choose the mix of on-premise and cloud services that work best.