IT Needs of the SMB: What to Look for In the Nimble and Responsive Cloud / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Small businesses can get away with minimal technology support, but should they? Thanks to the cloud, they definitely can.

Today’s small business owner can operate with minimal information technology help, thanks to a large number of affordable cloud-based solutions.

Since SMBs have limited resources to hire IT staff, they usually rely heavily on third-party services when they do need assistance. But this has created a dilemma for the service providers who help small businesses.

As complicated as the decision is for cloud providers, it can be even more challenging for small business owners.

With so many solutions on the market, it can be difficult to choose cloud providers that thoroughly meet all their needs.

Here are a few things businesses should look for when choosing a cloud service provider.

Related Article: Study Shows Small Businesses Are Doubling Profits by Switching to Cloud Computing


With any solution a business chooses, security should be a top priority. A data breach can cause irreparable damage to a business’s reputation in addition to the financial costs.

Organizations with their own IT workers and on-site servers have oversight of operations, but when these services are sent off site there is an element of trust.

Before signing a contract with a new provider, businesses should carefully scrutinize the security features being offered.

Feel free to ask questions about the processes used to encrypt and back up data and ask what disaster recovery features the provider has in place.

Make sure the contract contains a clause that gives your business the right to conduct an independent audit of the service provider at any point.

A Flexible Team

Many cloud service providers try to offer comprehensive solutions to their customers.

In addition to hosting a website, they may also promise top-quality email (Microsoft Exchange), data hosting (Managed Cloud), and should have acumen for more sensitive operations concerning HIPAA and SHA-2 certificates for credit card processing.

When choosing this type of solution, businesses should make sure the provider has the skillset necessary to offer the best service possible.

When looking for a provider, businesses often find that technology-based businesses employ specialists in a variety of related areas to serve all of their customers.

This allows a provider to provide the best possible services to SMBs across the country, with teams combining their strengths to cover all areas.


Today’s small business is tomorrow’s mid-sized company or large corporation. As a business grows, its need for resources changes until eventually it reaches a level of growth that can remain consistent over time.

In those early years, it’s important for businesses to choose solutions that will grow as they do. Otherwise, they’ll have to migrate older systems into new, more robust software and retrain all of their workers.

Scalability is one of the most appealing features of cloud computing. Depending on the type of solution, businesses usually find that most cloud providers can adjust offerings as a business’s needs change.

Whether it means increasing space to accommodate more data storage, adjusting settings to make sure a website doesn’t crash due to high traffic, or some other type of scaling, businesses can find a cloud service provider that will work with them to provide exactly the solutions they need at each stage.

Related Article: Tech Savvy: How to Talk Cloud at Cocktail Parties


As the trend toward mobile device use in recent years shows, consumer technology habits can change over the years. Businesses that set up a website a decade ago designed their pages to display on desktop and laptop monitors.

Each of those websites had to be updated to fit on small smartphone screens without sacrificing user experience. That led businesses to search for responsiveness as they chose website themes and application development solutions providers.

While no company can predict the future, businesses should look for providers who pay close attention to new developments, always keeping the latest technology in mind as they launch new products.

Companies that have long histories in the industry likely have the experience and resources necessary to respond quickly to any shifts in the types of devices connecting to their products.

This agility could make all of the difference for small businesses struggling to remain competitive in a field dominated by large corporations.

Contract Terms

Small businesses are especially susceptible to bad multi-year contracts and once they’re signed, they may have a difficult time getting out of them.

When reviewing these contracts, it’s important to review the performance levels the provider is promising and whether the provider will notify its customers in the event of a security breach or performance problem that could lead to downtime.

Top quality companies like Rackspace are month-to-month, allow you to upgrade of course, but you can also downgrade without cancellation fees and/or restrictions.

Before signing a contract, businesses also have the right to ask questions about where data will be physically housed and who will have access to the facility.

Many larger providers now offer failover, with secondary servers that kick in at a separate physical location should something happen at the initial storage site.

Related Article: Buying In the Cloud: How Cloud Technology is Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

This feature could be essential if a natural disaster should occur at the site where a business’s data is stored.

Small businesses need to remain competitive and to do so, they need technology that supports their operations.

By searching for a cloud provider that can handle a business’s needs at every stage of growth, SMBs can avoid wasting valuable time dealing with IT issues.

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