Beyond the Hybrid Cloud: How a Cloud-First Strategy Can Fuel SMB Growth

Publication date: May 27, 2023

Last Published: May 22, 2023

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Read Time : 6 minutes

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often caught in the following dilemma: stick with the familiar yet limiting confines of traditional IT infrastructure or venture into the expansive but complex realm of cloud computing?

Since it’s always tempting to compromise and attempt to get the best of both worlds, some SMBs decide to combine their on-premises infrastructure with public cloud services, an approach commonly referred to as the “hybrid cloud.”

While the hybrid cloud approach does appear to provide the perfect balance of control and flexibility, there are several major drawbacks that SMBs must carefully consider because their long-term consequences can be severe.

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What is the Hybrid Cloud Approach?

The cloud has revolutionized how businesses handle their data and applications, providing on-demand availability of computer system resources over the public internet. But one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to cloud computing.

The hybrid cloud approach is a computing model that combines on-premises infrastructure—servers and data centers owned and managed by the business itself—with public cloud services provided by third-party vendors.

This mix creates a “hybrid” environment where data and applications can move between private and public clouds as needed.

For example, a business might store sensitive data on its own private servers for security reasons, while leveraging the robust processing power of the public cloud to run high-demand applications.

While this might sound like the perfect solution on paper, the reality is a little more complex because the hybrid cloud approach comes with its own set of challenges and potential pitfalls that SMBs need to be aware of before embracing it as their IT infrastructure model of choice.

Hybrid Cloud Approach: A Temporary Relief

When SMBs start considering the hybrid cloud approach, they typically want to modernize their operations without a complete overhaul. While the hybrid cloud does provide an interim solution, it also comes with an array of challenges that can pose long-term issues, including:

  • Increased complexity: Managing a hybrid cloud environment can be a complex task. It requires a deep understanding of both on-premises infrastructure and cloud services. The increased complexity also means there’s more room for error and issues to occur, each of which can lead to downtime.
  • Integration issues: A successful hybrid cloud approach relies heavily on seamless integration between the private and public clouds. However, achieving this can be tricky in practice. Again, SMBs may find themselves wrestling with disjointed systems and persistent technical glitches as a result.
  • Data security and compliance: Cybersecurity is a hot topic, and SMBs are targeted almost just as often as large enterprises. But when data is moving between private and public environments, ensuring data security and regulatory compliance can be challenging.
  • Limited agility: : The beauty of fully embracing the cloud lies in its inherent agility and scalability. However, the hybrid cloud approach inherently limits these benefits because on-premises infrastructure acts like a weight around a company’s neck.
  • Hidden costs: While the hybrid cloud might seem cost-effective at first glance, there can be hidden costs that SMBs fail to account for. These can include the costs of on-premises hardware, added security measures, or potential downtime due to integration issues.

All these challenges mean that the hybrid cloud approach can eventually become a hindrance to SMBs’ growth and digital transformation goals. That’s why at OSIbeyond we advise our customers to adopt a cloud-first strategy, which is expected to be embraced by more than 85 percent of organizations by 2025.

Cloud-First Strategy: Enabling Sustainable Business Growth

The so-called cloud-first strategy prioritizes the use of cloud-based solutions like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) over on-premises infrastructure wherever possible.

SMBs that adopt the cloud-first strategy minimize the physical footprint of their IT infrastructure over time or even go entirely serverless, unlocking the following benefits in the process:

  • Cost efficiency: With a cloud-first strategy, SMBs can dramatically reduce the capital expenditure (CAPEX) associated with purchasing and maintaining on-premises hardware. By leveraging cloud services, businesses only pay for what they use and can easily adjust their usage based on their current needs.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Cloud services provide the ability to scale up or down quickly in response to business demands. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for SMBs that experience fluctuating or growing demand.
  • Enhanced security: Cloud service providers typically offer advanced security measures that may be difficult or costly for SMBs to implement on their own. And with no or very limited on-premises infrastructure to complicate things, the potential attack surface for cyber threats is significantly reduced.
  • Business continuity: Cloud-first strategies allow businesses to reduce the risk of service outages because cloud providers spend a lot of money to ensure high availability and continuity of services—even in the face of major natural disasters.
  • Remote work friendly: The cloud-first strategy is inherently remote work friendly. That’s important because SMBs that make it possible for employees to work from anywhere, at any time, using any device can better deal with attract from a larger pool of job candidates and continue operating even when faced with various disruptive situations that make it impossible for employees to gather in the office.

These are just some reasons why the cloud-first strategy offers a robust framework for sustainable business growth. By adopting this approach, businesses can stay competitive, resilient, and agile in an increasingly digital and interconnected world, and at OSIbeyond we are committed to helping you navigate this transition.

With our expertise in cloud services and dedication to understanding your unique business needs, we can assist in creating and implementing a cloud-first strategy for your business. Schedule a free consultation today.

Conclusion on Small Business Strategy

As the digital landscape evolves, it’s clear that a robust, forward-thinking IT strategy is a non-negotiable for businesses aiming for sustainable growth. While the hybrid cloud approach might seem like an attractive middle ground, it’s important to consider the potential challenges and limitations it brings.

For small businesses, the cloud-first strategy stands out as a more reliable and efficient solution that offers scalability, security, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to facilitate remote work.

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