SMB’s and the Cloud. Why you should care.

Written by Russell Warne Chief Customer Officer

In the first part of this blog post, we covered the analogy of comparing different cloud providers to villages, towns, cities and mega-cities. If you missed it you can read it here.

With the context done, let’s look at the benefits small business can get from these hyperscale providers, the mega-cities.  When you read through these benefits, always bear in mind that we’re focusing on the difference hyperscale makes, so we won’t touch on some common areas and don’t need to draw out the comparison across all the other options.

Benefit 1: Lower costs

When you’re buying hundreds of thousands of servers from a manufacturer, you get lower prices. Economies of scale in the competitive cloud world mean lower prices for customers, and cloud providers still have lots of growth ahead so they’re working hard to keep the customer acquisition rate up (and prices down for you).

To manage this infrastructure profitably you need strong automation and ways to squeeze every inch out of your infrastructure dollar. That in-turn means further cost-savings as there’s reduced overhead costs.  The ROI for this only makes sense at scale as it requires expensive skills and investment, so you don’t see it work as effectively elsewhere

Automation drives elasticity, self-service and pay-as-you-use models.  This is possibly one of the greatest cost-saving drivers of hyperscale cloud – even as a small business you can automatically pause your servers at night if they’re not in use, and when they’re paused you’re not paying.  That goes for the software platform licensing too.  You can also pay for the minimum power you need, and just scale up (or out) when you need to cater for periods of higher demand.

When you have all that computing, storage and other tech combined with the best minds in the world and massive numbers of customers, you get innovation.  That leads to better and cheaper ways of doing things and great alternatives to proprietary technologies.  5% uptake from 1 million businesses means 50,000 customers, so this kind of product development can pay off at scale.

Benefit 2: Available and reliable

There’s a saying in AWS that you should treat your servers like cattle, not pets.  What that means is that in the ‘old days’ you’d have some critical servers that you couldn’t afford to have fail which you’d name and look after individually.  With cloud, you can simply have an active standby or images ready to go at the click of a button, or as a self-managing’ group of servers that get added to and reduced automatically and in a controlled manner.  Like a herd.  You can plan to fail, and you can do so at minimal cost.  Many services such as RDS actually handle the management of that for you, so you don’t have to do anything and your SQL database is maintained, patched, backed up and you can have a live copy that will take over without interruption if needed.  You can do that if you have multiple datacentres in a region with super-fast connectivity between them.

You can’t if you don’t.

The automation that happens at scale means many tasks (often referred to as ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’) that are hassles for humans become quick and easy.  Right-click, and snapshot for a backup.  Automate that on a schedule, without the need to buy software to achieve it.  And it must happen quickly – things that happen slowly mean more support overhead with frustrated customers, and that’s not what hyperscale providers want to be focusing their support costs on.  Similarly with security and compliance – with the world’s biggest companies needing the highest possible levels of both, the hyperscale providers can let small companies access them too.  It’s always a “pay for what you use” model, so you aren’t lumped with an enterprise-scale invoice.

With global footprints, you’re able to take this to the nth degree is you need to.  An example of this is when a local company making use of AWS services in Europe, the US and Australia lost connectivity to an entire datacentre in the Australian region.  They didn’t even notice, because they were able to use the many services offered by AWS to automatically re-route to other regions and expand capacity as required.  It’s poetry for geeks!

Benefit 3: X-Factor

Small business is business.  Business needs to generate revenue, maximise gross profit margins and do so at the lowest operating cost possible – whilst managing risk and meeting stakeholder requirements at the same time.  Technology should not be a line-item in the operating cost, it should be driving new revenue by opening new markets and opportunities, reducing cost-of-sale by driving efficiencies outside just IT and it should make the auditors smile. (Just kidding, auditors never smile….).

To do this you need to innovate.

We know that’s a buzz-word often used by people who have no idea how your business works, but the origin of the word refers to ‘renewing’, or ‘altering’.  Some companies want to turn the world on it’s head, others just want to free up time for sales, but irrespective of your specific goals you’ll need to commit time and money to investigate and test ways to renew or alter your processes, products, market strategies etc.  With access to hundreds of technologies that can help this process or even create the delivery mechanism, cloud makes a lot of sense.  Small and medium sized companies can access the kind of technologies that have build global disruptors like Netflix and Uber, and do so with more ease and less investment than trying to build something themselves or contract someone else to do so.  Think voice-activated service, analytics, mobile, artificial intelligence and more – these technologies are accessible at low cost and usually as a managed service that means you don’t have to understand the mechanics to make magic.  For example, we have built an Alexa skill to tell you about our company, and a facial recognition app that will facilitate handling visitors at reception.  Without hyperscale cloud, the up-front investment in the technology and the requirement to learn the nuts and bolts of things like deep learning algorithms would have made this impossible for us.

And to make it even better, if your project ends up being a bad idea, you simply switch off the services and carry on with your day – failing fast and with minimal impact are the keys to finding the innovation that could transform your business.

The time has never been better for SMB companies to be able to bullet proof their business, scale effortlessly and efficiently, and to be able to innovate seamlessly at low cost. If this sounds like something your company would benefit from, why not have a chat with Kaskade today on how we can help you on your cloud journey. Now is the time. Click here for more info.

Russell Warne is the Chief Customer Officer at a AWS cloud partner that focuses on delivering expert advice and services on cloud technology.

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