Cloud storage solutions are not manna from heaven. They are not without constraints. SMBs planning to migrate to the cloud must understand and appreciate the pros and cons of cloud storage. Your decision to go with or not go with the cloud must be determined by how much the advantages out weigh the disadvantages in your specific context.

Bandwidth and capacity optimization technologies, multi-tenant architectures with a web native hosted application interface, is making cloud storage an attractive storage option for small and medium enterprises. These solutions also provide high availability of critical workloads and integrate a range of business continuity solutions with server abstraction. The advanced file imaging and site recovery options with extensive interoperability and best practices speed up time to market.

Cloud storage service providers use state of art technologies to service their customer requirements. Upgrades, migrations and technology obsolescence are abstracted to the level of the service provider and the user is free to enjoy cloud storage as scaleable utility that is paid for on the fly. Disk based backup, compression, encryption, data deduplication, server virtualization, storage virtualization, application specific protection, tiered storage with security certification are some of the security services that are made available to subscribers at the price of their subscription. A few service providers enhance quality of service by 24 x 7 support and monitoring services that alert the customer and report on security infringements.

On the flip side of the bargain is the fact that cloud services are accessed via the Internet. Service level agreement “performance guarantees” may not really be within the control of the service consumer. Bandwidth limitations can make the seeding and recovery of data a painful exercise. If the enterprise decides to withdraw from the contract or close the contract “exit strategies” can sometimes get messy. Termination or withdrawal fees, cancellation charges and data extraction may be issues that may be fraught with difficulties.

Before hitching their wagon to the cloud, SMBs should adopt an effective assessment strategy. A well thought out and executed cloud migration strategy can redefine your company and give you a competitive edge in your niche market. The recommendation would be “go for it” but go with your eyes and ears open. Do not hitch your wagon to the cloud without understanding what you are letting your company in for or what you can expect to gain or lose in the process!