Cloud solutions for SMEs

Gamco

Gamco Team

Cloud services or solutions (cloud computing), either in Spain or anywhere in the world, are infrastructures, platforms or software systems that are hosted by third-party providers and made available to users over the Internet, without having to download additional software to a personal computer or local server. In order for companies to access these cloud services, the user only needs a device with Internet access and, in some cases, a virtual private network (VPN).

The booming trend of implementing cloud solutions in SMEs accelerated with the arrival of the pandemic and everything points to the fact that in the immediate future cloud management will be extended globally. 

Cloud computing in Spain has a strong presence among micro-enterprises and SMEs. It is estimated that approximately 40% of these companies, which represent 98% of the business fabric in our country, are already using some model of cloud service for the management and maintenance of their data.

But what do we mean when we talk about implementing a cloud solution in a company? Cloud computing allows companies to be present in the digital sphere without the need to have IT specialists, create a technology department or have servers located in-house.

In this sense, companies use technology as a service and not as a "product". Managed service providers or MSPs are best suited to offer this type of solution to SMEs, which pay a fee based on their use of the tools and infrastructure contracted from the service provider. Essentially, both server space and access to specific software solutions are rented.

Basically, a cloud solution allows the user to store their data on external servers to be accessible over a network. The user simply opens their web browser and logs into the desired application to start working.

► You may be interested in: Digital Transformation in SMEs 

Types of enterprise clouds

Cloud services offer small and medium-sized companies the same protection as large companies with more stringent requirements. As a result, SMEs can maintain a high level of security, without the need for IT specialists on their payroll, and have their data quickly and securely available at any time. 

Likewise, cloud services have the capacity to place all users on the same level. This democratizes the application of corporate software. We do not need to know what is happening in the cloud, just log in and work on our task.

When selecting a cloud service model for data management and storage, there are four possibilities.

  • Public Cloud Computing. It is built on an external platform managed by a cloud service provider who is responsible for its maintenance and security. It can be used simultaneously by different companies, although users get their own cloud within a shared and customizable infrastructure. 
  • Private Cloud Computing. It is built on a cloud platform built within the company itself and with exclusive access, allowing the company's hardware to be used on-site. For this reason, it is a more expensive option than the previous one, as it allows greater control over your own cloud. 
  • Hybrid Cloud Computing. It is composed of several cloud environments linked by a proprietary technology. Companies manage information related to their activity internally, while storing less sensitive information with a third party. 
  • Community Cloud (Multicloud). It is a technological infrastructure that includes more than one public or private cloud that is shared among several organizations or companies with similar goals and interests that come together for a specific need or to solve a common problem.

► You may be interested in: Types of Cloud Computing Clouds 

Main cloud solutions available to meet different business needs

Software as a Service (SaaS)

It is at the top of the cloud service pyramid and can offer complete solutions to end users. This service provides users with a cloud application, the platform on which it runs and the underlying infrastructure.

This is the most common model of cloud computing and is undoubtedly the most demanded solution by SMEs because they usually require minimal management. It is an ideal system for startups and microenterprises due to its flexibility.

Companies can get up and running with a minimal initial investment, as there is no need to purchase the hardware or software used to provide their services. The SaaS provider manages the infrastructure, operating systems, middleware and all the data needed to make the contracted solution available when and where customers need it.

SaaS focuses on providing access to the software application to the user through a browser or program interface, eliminating the need for downloads or installations.

► You may be interested in: How artificial intelligence impacts software as a service (SaaS) companies

This service allows SMEs to access more sophisticated applications running in a virtual environment, such as ERP and CRM solutions, as well as e-mail managers.

  • Popular SaaS: Google Workspace Apps, Dropbox, Hootsuite, MailChimp

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

This is the deepest layer of the cloud and is used for the creation of operating systems and virtual machines, among other uses. This service is located at the base of the cloud services pyramid because it supports critical infrastructure.

It allows building on-demand work environments, where the user can access multiple functions in a simple way. It also provides a multitude of complex resources: scalable databases, virtual private networks, data analysis tools and even application monitoring and developer tools. 

IaaS is a service suitable for SMEs that do not have the resources to acquire the hardware and software necessary to create their own internal network and are looking for future flexibility and scalability that will allow them to reduce or increase their resources depending on the volume of activity.

IaaS allows companies to take advantage of the cloud server resources, without having to worry about hardware requirements, while the platform and software management is the responsibility of the company itself.

Popular IaaS: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Cloud Platform, Rackspace.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

It is at an intermediate level and allows developers to create applications based on the available infrastructure. PaaS is advisable for any company that develops software and web-based applications, as well as for SMEs looking for agility in their management.

It allows the user to develop customized software applications or add more functionalities without the need to incorporate more personnel or buy them directly.

  • Popular PaaS: Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce.

How to choose the best cloud technology for SMBs

SMEs have more limited resources than large companies. Therefore, when selecting the most suitable cloud model for their business they have to analyze which functionalities are really necessary for their optimal digitization, such as:

  • Solution scalability options.
  • The level of personalization of the service.
  • The security guarantees of the cloud.

The implementation of cloud solutions for SMEs is essential to react quickly and efficiently to any change or market opportunity. Cloud solutions are usually pre-configured to cover a series of standard business needs that can be extended later if necessary.

Likewise, we can also find auto-scalable infrastructures that are capable of intelligently detecting the needs of a company. In this way, by means of artificial intelligence, they are able to expand services to meet market demands.

Depending on the type of SME, the following must be taken into account:

  • The type of infrastructure required.
  • The level of security achieved.
  • Extra services that add value.

The different types of cloud solutions and their associated services determine the fees that must be paid to contract their services. The following is a list of some of the most commonly contracted cloud services.

Backup and disaster recovery systems

  • Automated and periodic backups.
  • Systems for rapid disaster recovery.
  • Periodic verification of backup status.

Assigned technical agent

  • Assignment of a technical agent specialized in IT to ensure the proper functioning of the infrastructure and contracted services.

24/7 support

  • It is one of the most demanded services by companies because it guarantees continuous technical support at any time.

Automatic update

  • The cloud service provider is responsible for server maintenance, including security updates.

Quality certifications

  • Any cloud service should have certifications on the level of service and security it offers.
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