"At Symantec, we are very aware that SMBs are driving our global economies and are just as dependent on information to drive their business as their larger enterprise counterparts. However, SMBs don't typically have dedicated IT personnel to focus on the information protection making them potentially more susceptible to risks. What's more, SMBs conduct business with many enterprises, and today's sophisticated internet hackers see them as a potential backdoor into these larger organizations. SMBs can benefit from greater protection and the flexibility of newer, scalable, and easy-to-manage technologies and services such as cloud computing," said Justin Doo, cloud and security practice director for Middle East and North Africa, Symantec Corp.
According to Symantec's recent 2012 Internet Security Threat Report, 18% of all targeted attacks are directed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees. What's more concerning is that more than 60% of the young companies hit by cyber attacks close within six months. In today's information driven world, it is critical for SMBs to have a solid information protection strategy and the right technologies to protect them from external security threats and internal risks that could disrupt their business operations.
Symantec's 2012 SMB Cloud Adoption Survey highlights that more than 50% of organizations are more likely to adopt cloud services if it would guarantee 24/7 protection of business critical information.
SMBs in UAE are early adopters of cloud services:• The majority of the survey respondents are at least aware of cloud computing, and 52% of small businesses correctly identified its meaning as data stored, secured and accessed remotely
• Almost 40% of respondents use cloud services for personal use, and more than a quarter of respondents use cloud services for business purposes, citing social networking sites as the top used cloud services
• 89% of those respondents who are considering adopting cloud services in the near future expect to make the move within the next six to 24 months
• Survey respondents noted lower operational costs, greater mobility for staff, better data protection (backup/recovery) and enhanced information security as top reasons for considering cloud solutions, while concerns about data security, data privacy and lack of control were noted as top barriers to adoption of cloud computing
• Time savings from cloud services is a strong draw for adoption with 86% of respondents likely to move to cloud if it meant saving a considerable amount of time on IT-related tasks
SMBs are fueling economy; confident in future:• According to the survey, respondents cited insufficient time/staff to execute work load and limited IT staff as the top business and IT concerns, respectively
• The majority of respondents, 66%, view IT as integral to their business with 80% expecting their IT investment to stay flat or increase in 2012, with the increase budget allocated towards IT and productivity technology, demonstrating the need to invest in technology to become more efficient
• Amongst the few respondents expecting to reduce budgets over the next year, respondents cited interest in resource saving technologies, including virtualization and cloud
Trust is a motivating factor for SMBs to move to the cloud• When asked how they feel about hosting business critical information in the 'cloud', 24% of respondents feel confident, while 43% are still ambivalent
• Building trust with a cloud provider is top of mind for small and medium businesses. Respondents cited international credibility and local in-country presence as key to building trust in, or ways that influence their decision to work with, a cloud services provider. Existing customer references was the third influencing factor
Best practices for selecting a cloud providerAs the cloud is becoming an increasingly popular delivery mechanism for often complicated and time-consuming IT tasks, SMBs should consider best practices for selecting the right cloud provider and to ensure they achieve all the simplicity, affordability and efficiency the cloud has to offer.
• Bigger Isn't Always Better: Research cloud service providers before making any decisions. The service provider's reputation and how long they have been offering cloud services should trump their actual size. Look for a cloud specialist with reputable technology that knows the industry.
• Understand Your Security Needs: There has been much hype surrounding the security of the cloud, but there is very little difference between the trust you place in your Internet Services Provider (ISP) and/or your other technology vendors. With that in mind, every organization's security needs and expectations are different so it's important to understand how the vendor can meet those needs.
• Know the Basics of Data Back-up: Know how the cloud provider backs up data and in the worst-case scenario, what would happen if they went out of business or if you wanted to move data to another provider. Get a feel for the provider's storage reputation, the number and location of their data centers and redundancy of their infrastructure.
• Secure Good SLAs: The best way to ensure good service is with solid Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with clear contractual language. Look for vendors who define and utilize SLAs as part of their value proposition.
• Evaluate Customer Service Standards: The best customer service departments for cloud services are staffed with cloud specialists who are available 24x7. Ensure that your chosen vendor's customer service specialists can meet your organization's needs.
• Test the Service: A key advantage of cloud services is that it makes it easy to deploy a free trial and most vendors offer this to those considering their services. Start small with the trial and once satisfied, you can expand the service to include confidential data and other mission-critical systems.