Cloud Computing – The Silver Lining for SMEs & Start-Ups

by March 23, 2016 0 comments

– Biswanath Bhattacharya, Chief Executive, HCL Services

Cloud Computing is proving to be a breakthrough innovation that is redefining the way IT solutions are delivered globally. CIOs are investing or planning to invest a sizeable chunk of their IT spending on Cloud Computing. In India, 65% of large enterprises are making use of Cloud technology, services and solutions as part of their IT infrastructure. As per a recent Gartner report, the Indian public Cloud market is poised to touch $1.9 billion (about Rs 12,000 crore) by 2018. In India, the five year CAGR from 2012 to 2017 is projected at 33.2% for Cloud services’ revenue across all segments of the Cloud computing market. Segments such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) have higher projected CAGRs of 34.4% and 39.8% respectively.

Biswanath Bhattacharya Chief Executive, HCL Services

Biswanath Bhattacharya
Chief Executive, HCL Services

The theory of Cloud computing has evolved through a number of phases which include grid and utility computing and SaaS. It enables users to access information from anywhere, at any time, through various connected devices. Even though Cloud Computing has been touted as an IT game-changer for over 10 years, it is only now that we are seeing real traction in the market with businesses reaping benefits from the twin value drivers of Cloud Computing – improved productivity and cost savings.

Most small businesses that have migrated to the Cloud have successfully reduced the cost of running applications. This is because the initial capital investment and the ongoing supporting headcount required to install and run hardware and software

Most small businesses that have migrated to the Cloud have successfully reduced the cost of running applications. This is because the initial capital investment and the ongoing supporting headcount required to install and run hardware and software is provided by the Cloud service provider.
The challenges in migrating to Cloud

While Cloud offers significant benefits the process of migration is not without its challenges. Establishing the ROI involves a cost-benefit analysis of the transition and how technology may change after some time for other upcoming solutions. Cloud ROI computation is complex because it involves measuring the business impacting value of IT.
Many small businesses are saving through Cloud-based data storage and backup. The Cloud enables retrieval of the latest versions of data in case of an on-site system failure or a disaster. A Cloud-based service backs up data frequently and automatically to a safe online location, so that in case of a calamity, the business can be up and running within minutes. Many providers offer geo-redundant backup, so that data is saved in multiple centers across multiple locations, ensuring better security. Cloud email is another advantage through which small businesses can realize efficiencies and enhanced features. Tools such as Office 365 and Gmail for Business are not only hassle-free and inexpensive to maintain your own email server or disparate systems; they also include many add-on features that lets you access mail from any device, synchronize calendars, and avail email backup, security and availability.

New business processes that have been propped up by Cloud

Another process that Cloud Computing has enabled is invoicing (integrated time sheets, sales data, and automatic billing). Marketing also is enabled due to Cloud-based platforms that have transformed small businesses handle email broadcasts, social media, virtual events and more. Cloud computing has opened up a whole world of possible industry disruptions –allowing start-ups and SMEs to compete successfully with long-established enterprises. It is also paving the way for greater differentiation in the marketplace, allowing businesses the freedom to concentrate on their own product and outsource anything which does not distinguish them from competitors.

Cloud computing also plays an integral role in the organisation’s business model; allowing it to offer a reliable and, most importantly, real-time overview that would be impossible on a typical physical on-site infrastructure. Start-ups can now potentially access the same level of IT sophistication as any enterprise – and with the ease of outsourcing, can ignore most of the operational issues and focus on improving the core product or using IT to open up new revenue opportunities. Meanwhile, the enterprises which invest in a Cloud platform are also able to re-discover the level of flexibility they enjoyed back in their day as a small business. In both instances, obstacles to growth have been removed. And if we have to calculate the Clouds’s ROI, we can look at swift deployment of workloads, business agility and how quickly the business has reached out to the market with its products and services.

In the last few years most of the major trends, be it BYOD, mobile working and big data to business intelligence and analytics, have all been made possible thanks to the flexible and reliable environment offered by the resilient Cloud platform. The Cloud represents a fundamental shift in the way businesses can operate. It is therefore an advancement that organisations must embrace in order to stay in tune with recent developments, since a widespread adoption of this technology is projected to have a transformative effect not only on small businesses, but also on large companies and government organizations. Though the future of Cloud Computing in India seems encouraging, immediate adoption of Cloud is slow. Unless start-ups that are into developing Cloud solutions attain global focus for their products, it will be hard for them to scale and grow to sustain investment costs. Cloud Computing is not a silver bullet, but it does eliminate or reduces the cost of failure and offers a way of future-proofing businesses. And as long as entrepreneurs can invent new business models the capabilities of the Cloud will continue to surprise us.

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