SMEs are fuelling cloud uptake, says expert

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Karen Atkinson identified the three main reasons why SMEs are turning to the cloud

An industry expert speaking to the Financial Post has explained that cloud computing is vital for small businesses (SMEs) looking out for their bottom line.

According to Karen Atkinson, tax partner and technology leader at Ernst & Young, the low access point for firms looking to migrate to the cloud – as well as the reduced costs that come associated with outsourcing storage and maintenance requirements – makes third-party document storage and offsite backup an affordable, sensible option for small and medium-sized businesses.

"Cloud computing represents a fundamental shift in IT as companies move from continued investment in their own infrastructure to sourcing and developing IT services externally," says the expert.

"Technology advances, particularly ubiquitous high-speed internet connectivity and the ever-decreasing cost of storage, have finally enabled developers to meet buyers’ needs for simplicity, cost and flexibility."

And according to Ms Atkinson, smaller companies and start-ups are fuelling cloud growth with a higher percentage of uptake than larger corporations.

"Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) appear to be migrating to the cloud more rapidly than larger companies, and startups are virtually all cloud users," said the expert. "Cloud computing offers distinct benefits for the entrepreneurial community, freeing both capital and staff time which can be focused on growing the business."

Ms Atkinson also identified the three major factors that make cloud storage and access solutions ideal for small companies with low overheads.

Flexibility was identified as being key, with cloud storage offering a cheaper way to expand data management storage by offering greater expansion without the need for costly hardware.

Secondly, the ability to trial new solutions was identified as being crucial to businesses hoping to implement new software and storage fixes before making a long-term, contractual commitment – something cloud computing can facilitate.

Finally, speed: as Ms Atkinson notes, outsourcing commitments such as software updates and hardware maintenance to a third-party means such improvements often get made sooner and more regularly, and small businesses can implement new technologies faster as a result.

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