Small-business owners don't have a lot of time for complicated information-technology solutions. And they haven't always the resources for expensive ones.
Dynamics are the name of the game and the ability to roll out solutions that suit both time and resources are key—but so is the need for good ideas and implementable strategies when it comes to IT.
Coming up with answers along these lines is part of Chris Webber's specialty. The senior product manager at cloud-networking provider, Pertino talked to The Plug about some key tips for SMBs when it comes to IT in the small-business milieu.
Q: So, Chris, should small-businesses run their IT from onsite or off?
Webber: Some apps and services make sense to keep onsite, depending on your security posture and need for elasticity. If you can power, cool, and rack a server, and use it for a few VMs to reliably support your workers — by all means do it. This is especially true if your workers access your local servers from the office. No remote connection required, costs are controlled, and you can walk down and physically kick the box if you want to.
Q: And then, where does cloud-computing fit into the IT scenario?
Webber: Does your organization hire contractors for the busy season, and then cut them loose when the project is done? If so, hosted solutions can provide "pay as you grow" subscriptions, and don't require you to overbuy up-front, or constantly upgrade on the fly.
E-mail and file servers are increasingly built for hosted access and deployment – and the reliability of the cloud can mean that you get redundancy that would be too costly to build in-house.
Q: But aren't there security risks for IT in the cloud?
Webber: Hosted doesn't mean consumer-cloud. Your users might use a "shoebox" in the cloud, but that doesn't mean you have to. Hosting your file-share, application, or e-mail, doesn't have to mean loss of control or less-secure access.
Q: It sounds like some small-business IT solutions can combine the two ideas, onsite and cloud. What's a bottom line, here, a takeaway? I think that security is still a key concern for small-business owners.
Webber: Regardless of which solution you prefer [on-site, cloud] make sure the solution meets your security needs before you pilot to end-users. Sometimes, workers have a funny way of forgetting that "pilot" means "not-production" — a post pilot migration due to security risks is not a fun way to spend a weekend, and the grumpy users are no fun to come back to on Monday.
As owners frame first questions and answers to an IT environment, consider both onsite and offsite interactions. Keep security high on your list of priorities, and you'll have fewer hiccups as you roll out an IT system that makes sense both time-wise and to that all-important other bottom line: the budget.