Why SMBs can’t afford to ignore the hybrid cloud

Digital transformation is calling…

In recent years, digital transformation has become the driving force for large enterprises’ strategies — implementing broad-based initiatives to leverage technology across their processes and operations, and show that they are ready to innovate. But for SMBs, a recent survey found that they are struggling to cope with their current IT, let alone think about their future goals.

Digital transformation is less about adopting a specific technology or service model, and more about being ready to adopt any new technology – the idea of future-proofing your business. But one of the key elements that can’t be ignored, is the cloud. Cloud technologies are needed for many AI and machine learning solutions, but the same survey into SMBs found that currently only 21% of them are planning to adopt the cloud[i].    

So how do SMBs catch up in this ever-faster evolving digital world? Firstly, SMBs will need to have solid technical foundations in place to order to be future-ready. This means having a flexible IT infrastructure that allows them to respond quickly and effectively to the constant changes in their industry, technology, customer perceptions, and regulatory requirements.

Secondly, SMBs should consider the adoption of a hybrid cloud model, which coincidentally is fully supported by a flexible infrastructure! With a range of infrastructure options (e.g., on-premises, public cloud, and managed hosted cloud) at the ready, organisations can quickly select and deploy the optimal option or options for them.

Why not just embrace cloud completely?

Cloud computing has done a great job in terms of awareness; it’s the buzzword that stuck around. And it has its pluses – easy to deploy, scalable, and generally economically friendly. In fact, among IT leaders surveyed by Frost & Sullivan[ii], the majority (62%) said that their cloud strategy is essential to remaining competitive in their industry. Key drivers for this include the ability to:

  • Manage data growth (cited as “important” to the cloud decision by 70% of IT decision-makers)
  • Reduce maintenance burden on IT staff (70%)
  • Position their company to take advantage of new technologies (68%)
  • Reduce costs (67%)
  • Deliver services faster (64%)
  • Free up staff to focus on innovation (62%)
  • Support business flexibility and market responsiveness (58%)

Yet, not all workloads are optimally deployed in the public cloud. If you’re using laptops, PCs, or even online cloud software to share and store critical data, you could be heading for unexpected downtime. PCs crash. Laptops get stolen. Internet connections go down. In discussing their reasons for not deploying a specific workload in the public cloud, the same respondents who love the cloud, cited a number of downsides to it, including:

  • Security concerns/unauthorised access to data or applications (61%)
  • Poor or inconsistent app performance (53%)
  • Robust data protection (53%)
  • High costs/low return on investment (49%)

Head in the cloud, but feet on the ground

So we know that cloud isn’t the perfect solution; why not just keep costs low and stick to on-premise storage? Unfortunately that has its own security issues, requires dedicated office space and IT support, and doesn’t inspire the workplace of the future ideology.

That’s why for optimal deployment of a range of workloads, the time is now for SMBs to embrace a hybrid cloud environment, comprising on-premises and hosted data centers; cloud-native and traditional workloads; provider-managed and self-managed options—all integrated and centrally managed. Hybrid cloud’s flexibility allows organizations to find the right mix of models to accommodate their specific workloads. In fact, over half of enterprises adopt more than just one cloud deployment model.[iii]

Forrester[iv] found that the key benefits of hybrid cloud are improved: data management; IT infrastructure management and flexibility; security and compliance; and disaster recovery and/or business continuity. Arguably then, the most valuable features are consistency and integration ease – which for SMBs with little-to-none dedicated IT resource, should tick all the boxes.

Making the right choice

When ready to join the digital transformation journey, with the first stop at the hybrid cloud station, SMBs should look beyond costs when choosing an infrastructure to suit them; considering management and security tools that work across environments, integrate with existing tools, and allow for easy collaboration.

We know from the Konica Minolta research that 90% of SMBs say an all-in-one IT system that seamlessly integrates hardware, software and services into a multi-vendor, one-stop solution would be relevant to their organizations. Konica Minolta has responded to this by creating Workplace Hub, a scalable IT solution that seamlessly integrates hardware, software and services utilising the hybrid cloud, to Simplify IT for SMBs.

Feel like you've got the basics on hybrid cloud sorted? Read our whitepaper here to find out how else you can maximise your IT

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[i] SMB IT pain-point survey for Konica Minolta was conducted in partnership with Opinium, 2018

[ii] Realizing Full Value from Your Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack, Frost & Sullivan 2018

[iii] Rightscale; Cloud Computing Trends: 2018 State of the Cloud Survey

[iv]Forrester’s Global Business Technographics Infrastructure Survey, 2016

Photo by Francisco De Legarreta C. on Unsplash