MSPmentor Blog
Educating SMBs About the Cloud

Educating SMBs About the Cloud

When I sat down to write this blog post, I typed “cloud computing” into Google, curious to see what sort of results it would yield here in the first months of 2012. I was a little surprised. Nine out of 10 results on the first page bore titles like “What is cloud computing?,” “Cloud computing overview,” or some other variant. I find this interesting partly because when I entered my original query, Google suggested “cloud computing definition” as my search term and I consciously avoided it. And still, nine of the 10 results for “cloud computing” were definitions.

It’s been almost five years since Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, made this statement to the Wall Street Journal:

"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can’t think of anything that isn’t cloud computing with all of these announcements….Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?"
Is this still the case? Obviously a single results page in Google is not an in-depth analysis of the market, but it does beg the question. How much does the average small business owner know about the cloud? Does he or she understand what it is? What its strengths and weaknesses are?

Do you?

If you offer cloud services, or are planning on offering cloud services, then it should go without saying that you need to be an expert. According to Microsoft, 53 percent of small and mid-sized business owners said they didn’t know enough about cloud computing to make a business decision about it. Fifty-three percent! That study was released at the beginning of 2011, so it will be interesting to see if the percentage has dropped in the past year, but it underscores the need for MSPs offering the cloud to be ready with clear, concise information about what they’re selling.

And of course, part of that information should be the truth: the cloud offers a lot of great benefits, it’s a great technology, but a hybrid solution (online and onsite) is still be the best way to go.

As I pointed out in my January 2012 guest blog, 2011 wasn’t the greatest year for cloud computing. Massive failures riddled the technology landscape. My favorite headline was this one: “Amazon Cloud Goes Down, Takes Every Hot Startup With It."

Here Comes Hybrid Cloud

But does that mean cloud computing is a failure? Of course not. It does mean that a hybrid solution is probably the safest bet for now.

The Microsoft study shows that’s what’s happening anyway. For example, only 39 percent of those surveyed used paid cloud services at the end of 2010. Sixty-six used some kind of service, free or paid, and only 8 percent were using it for backup and file recovery.

So what does this mean? It means that solution providers offering cloud services need to be ready to educate their clients and provide products that really meet their needs, both online and onsite.

If you’re interested in hearing more on the StorageCraft take on the cloud, check out our new white paper, “Cloud, Smog, or Fog: Our Forecast on Business Continuity and the Cloud.” In the meantime, what is your experience? Do your clients have a pretty good handle on the cloud or do you spend a lot of time educating? What sorts of questions do they ask?

Curt James is VP of marketing and business development at StorageCraft, which works closely with MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of StorageCraft's guest blogs here.
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