SMBs Ready for Cloud Application Delivery, GFI Delivers

With all the talk of cloud delivery of applications and IT infrastructure, I've been wondering what IT pros' attitudes about all this cloud stuff is these days. Traditionally, the workers in the trenches have been somewhat more hesitant to embrace the cloud compared to the C-levels, who are more easily swayed by the bottom-line savings picture presented by vendors. Results of a recent survey released by GFI Software provide a little insight on the cloud conundrum, at least in the small business space.

The survey, conducted by market research agency Opinion Matters on behalf of GFI, asked IT decision makers at small businesses (up to 50 employees) questions about their own security as well as their opinions about the cloud. A very basic summary of the results would indicate that a majority of these businesses, because of a lack of confidence in their own security and antivirus practices, would welcome a cloud solution: 78 percent of respondents indicated they would be interested in a cloud-based solution for company antivirus protection.

However, significant concerns over making the cloud shift still remain. The survey reported top fears these organizations had for moving to cloud applications. Topping this list, at 34 percent, was the belief that running cloud applications is too complex and that the businesses lacked the in-house expertise to do it. Other concerns centered predictably around security: 27.6 percent reported they didn't want to give up control of their data; 24 percent were simply uncertain about cloud security; and although not strictly security, 22.4 percent considered availability of the cloud service to be a stumbling block.

Interestingly, if you take that last number and turn it around, well over three-fourths of those surveyed didn't consider lack of service availability a concern when considering a cloud solution. Considering the number of recent, high-profile outages with services such as Amazon and Microsoft Office 365, it's curious to me that more companies aren't putting this problem high on the list. Perhaps it represents a general acceptance of the unattainability of 100 percent uptime. For anything.

Walter Scott, CEO of GFI Software, had another take on companies' acceptance of the cloud. "It's just a better platform, and I think people are beginning to see that," Scott said. Scott cited the banking and payroll industries as having forced a level of cloud acceptance on businesses, as these services have required them to use cloud consoles and logons to perform tasks. Scott said he sees the small-to-midsized business (SMB) market moving fully to the cloud for applications, and that the traditional fear of the cloud is becoming less and less.

Timed with the release of this survey, GFI has launched its cloud delivery platform, GFI Cloud. Geared toward SMBs, GFI Cloud gives businesses a simple cloud delivery model for GFI's familiar on-premises products. Launching initially with the antivirus and anti-malware protection of GFI VIPRE Business Online and the network and server monitoring capabilities of GFI Network Server Monitor, the plan is to add additional GFI offerings to GFI Cloud in coming months.

The setup for GFI Cloud involves the installation of an agent that connects company PCs to the web-based management console. With the promise of a quick setup -- 10 minutes or less -- and comprehensive network management with technology IT pros are likely already familiar with, GFI has made the move to the cloud that much easier. The company is offering a free 30-day trial on its website to further entice SMBs to the cloud.

The GFI-sponsored survey clearly focused on smaller businesses, a segment they seem to know well, and I suspect GFI Cloud will be a popular offering. None of this answers the question of what larger organizations are doing with the cloud -- how much and what type of their applications or infrastructure are they comfortable moving to a hosted environment? I'd be glad to hear what you're doing -- send me a message or leave a comment.

Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins
Follow Windows IT Pro on Twitter at @windowsitpro

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