Improve Security and Efficiency By Going Cloud

Microsoft’s cloud trust study indicates cloud security is a matter of perception.  A recent Trustworthy Computing survey indicates that small businesses that try cloud services seem to appreciate what they have to offer.  This is no surprise since they are in business to make money, not manage infrastructure.  Outsourcing is an opportunity cost decision.  In almost all cases the impact to the business cash flow statement will override any concerns regarding outsourcing vs. insourcing.  Small business survival depends on the adoption of LEAN principles.  Reducing waste reduces cost.

94 percent of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t TwCCloudSMBTrustinfoUS_Page[1]previously have with their on-premises service, such as up-to-date systems, up-to date antivirus protection and spam email management.

91 percent of SMBs said the security of their organization had been positively impacted as a result of cloud adoption

Many non-technical SMBs without full time IT staff are going to experience benefit from cloud services.  In order to get the full benefit of security monitoring, it has to be a dedicated 24/7 function.  An 8-5 business that doesn’t generate revenue for the other 16 hours is sinking money in performing this function themselves.  From a financial point of view it almost never make sense to ramp up a 24/7 IT shop in these circumstances.

While the survey discusses businesses with 25-499 PCs  there is another demographic that cloud services can provide benefit to.  Studies indicate that up to 50% of the US workforce will be self-employed by 2020.  The group that stands to benefit most from cloud services is the 1-5 person company where everyone involved is an owner/operator and all other work is subcontracted.  Cloud services make the most sense where the owners are the salespeople and unrelated people are subcontractors.  It doesn’t matter if you’re selling IT services or office cleaning services, you are already taking on risk from subcontracting.  Let’s pretend you are selling IT services and you find a few generic MCSE’s to do the hands on work that are 1099 contractors or B2B such as LLC to LLC.  If your entire business is built around finding these freelancers to do the work, you are already outsourcing.  What possible reason could you have for wanting to insource your IT infrastructure or personnel?

Security professionals that only look at security may survive in Enterprise IT.  In SMBs every employee is not an IT professional, an accounting professional, etc.  They are stakeholders.  The ability to diversify your portfolio of skills, roles, and personality traits is what will make you a winning team member and a winning investor.

GMail Disruption Loses Thousands of Accounts

CNN is reporting that a disruption at Google may have caused the loss of 150,000 GMail accounts.  Google is working on restoring the email, but one user in the help forum asks, “What if the cloud fails”?

Most home users have been using “the cloud” since the 1990s via hotmail or through email hosted by their dial-up or broadband ISP.  Today users mostly rely on some kind of web mail for both business and personal communication.  As we have moved away from client applications we rely more and more on the service provider to ensure that we can access our data when we need it using a web browser.  For a small business owner or freelancer loss of data can mean loss of revenue from downtime, if not wiping out your entire business.

One step that users can take is to consider using client applications again. This may seem like a backwards step until you need to access your data while the service provider is down.  GMail works with any program that is compatible with Microsoft Exchange or using the IMAP protocol.

GMail support details how to configure IMAP in your email client.  Since IMAP synchronizes with the mailbox there will be a copy of the email on the server that can be accessed with a web browser or it can be accessed through a client program like Outlook or Thunderbird.  Using IMAP can be a cheap (free) form of insurance in the event that the email provider has a permanent failure.

Small business users may want to consider the benefits of using an email client to keep a copy of their email.  Hard drives can fail or experience a fire, flood, or other catastrophe in both the datacenter and in the home or office.  Keeping multiple copies of email in different locations is one way of protecting your business.