The State of the Cloud - How SMBs Can Avoid Cloud Headaches

Thursday, January 31, 2013
Posted by Kyle Thompson

Symantec Survey Shows How to Avoid Cloud Headaches

By Tom Powledge, vice president of products and services for SMB at Symantec

By now everyone knows that the cloud is a marvelous technology platform that can transform your business. It can save time and money while enabling companies to quickly adapt to changing situations, either within IT or at a higher strategic level. It seems like a remedy for all business ills, but it is more like a medication that should be used according to instructions, to receive significant benefits while minimizing side effects.

Symantec’s 2013 Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud Survey uncovers some of these unintended consequences, in an effort to help today’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) get the most out of their cloud deployment. What we learn from the survey is that careful preparation is the key to minimizing costs.

Focus on the Information and People

When it comes to technology, we tend to focus on exactly what it is and what it can do, but we ignore how people use it. This is the case with the cloud, as we see employees in organizations pursuing cloud initiatives without permission. In the last year, 70 percent of SMBs have seen these “rogue cloud” situations. The survey showed that people are doing this because they think it will be too difficult to go through IT, but it’s a problem because it can lead to security issues such as the loss of confidential information.

SMBs should be aware of this and create policies that encourage employees to use the cloud effectively. For example, one in six survey respondents didn’t know that rogue cloud deployments were forbidden by their company, illustrating the importance of not only creating these policies, but also educating employees to ensure their compliance.

They should also watch how much of the cloud storage they buy actually is used. SMBs are only using 7 percent of what they are paying for. Employees should work with IT for the most secure, efficient cloud usage.

Use the Best Tools

With the cloud adding complexity to IT, half of SMBs are now using three or more backup solutions. This can cause a number of problems, including high costs and time-consuming backup tasks, not to mention the increased likelihood of compatibility issues. And we’re seeing the consequences now: more than one-third have lost data in the cloud and had to recover from a backup. The majority of SMBs have also been unable to recover information from their cloud-based backup on at least one occasion.

SMBs should create a comprehensive information protection plan combining cloud and physical backups. They should also carefully evaluate potential cloud backup vendors and their ability to restore information, as well as looking for a single solution to handle backups for physical and virtual resources.

Deduplication is also an integral part of a successful backup plan. The survey showed that 57 percent of SMBs currently deduplicate little or none of their information, creating inefficient storage. With nearly one-third of them having received eDiscovery requests for files stored in the cloud (and two-thirds of those missing the deadline), finding the right information when they need it is vital.

Like any technology, the cloud presents significant advantages, particularly if the costs are managed effectively. As SMBs invest in the right solution, and give employees the knowledge to effectively use it, they will find the cloud a cost-effective way to improve their business and streamline operations.