Cloud Computing Drives Revenue, but Many Midsize Business Are Left Curbside

By | Sep 14, 2012

It's easy to talk about cloud computing, but often more difficult to realize this technology's long-term benefits. Despite aggressive marketing by both tech giants and start-up companies, a recent market study found that small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) are by and large letting the cloud pass them by, even though it is finally starting to offer concrete return on investment (ROI). So what's keeping companies away?

Lack of Knowledge

That's the main reason midsize business IT have for avoiding the cloud, according to a recent survey by MYOB, as reported by the Herald Sun. The survey, which asked over 1000 midsize companies about their cloud use, discovered that 79 percent didn't use cloud technology at all, with 27 percent citing lack of knowledge as the main reason.

The study also found, however, that over half of those using the cloud were more likely to have seen revenues rise in the past year than those without a cloud solution, and many other benefits accompanied this increase - remotely accessed data, reduced IT issues, and better overall security. Nonetheless, the vast majority of midsize businesses still choose to avoid the cloud, and MYOB chief executive Tim Reid notes, "Our research shows a disconnect between SME cloud usage and their understanding of it."

MYOB also found that worries about storage safety and remote server security and lack of IT savvy among employees also hampered cloud adoption, despite clear indications of potential profit. If money isn't enough, what else can be done to sweeten the deal for midsize IT?

Easily Trainable

An article at e! Science News details the efforts of researchers from North Carolina State University to develop a software protocol that will help prevent cloud disruptions and hopefully encourage greater cloud adoption. Although the storage of information from multiple businesses across multiple servers can both lower costs and increase agility, it can also prove to be hazardous if a bug or fault occurs in one company's data set and spreads to others. The North Carolina team aims to solve this problem through the use of a self-training software program.

By examining memory usage, network traffic, CPU usage and other critical system features, the program develops a profile for what is "normal" in the cloud, and then scans for anomalies in this normal use. If it finds one, the program runs what is known as a "black box" diagnostic to determine what portion of the system isn't performing properly and attempts to correct it before it becomes a system-wide failure.

One significant advantage to the program is that it doesn't require users to input "training data" as a baseline but can instead learn on its own. Since cloud environments can vary significantly and baseline data is difficult to obtain in a live environment, the learning abilities of this solution should allow it to "not only prevent a major disturbance, but actually prevent the user from even experiencing any change in system performance," according to Dr. Helen Gu of North Carolina State, a co-author on the software protocol research paper. So far, testing has shown the program is able to identify up to 98 percent of anomalies with a only 1.7-percent rate of false positives.

While monitoring software likely won't be the lynchpin that sends IT admins running to find a cloud provider, it's one more reason to consider a move, especially if CEOs and other management-level executives are reluctant. As the recent survey data shows, revenues are positively impacted by cloud adoption and significant efforts to improve the cloud are underway. Though it's not yet an entirely smooth ride and IT admins may not feel completely confident in their knowledge about what's under the hood, climbing into the cloud computing driver's seat may well be worth the risk.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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