Category Archives: SME

IT admins most concerned by tool sprawl, external threats and security

JumpCloud Inc.‘s newest (SME) IT Trends Report, ‘Flexibility and Ingenuity: What’s Powering Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise IT Management in 2023‘, shows that just after SMEs successfully established the new workplace normal following the pandemic, significant turbulence in the greater macroeconomic environment has threatened to upend the system again. Instead of lockdowns and supply chain shortages,… Read more »

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SMEs not prepared for the threat of cyber criminals – Barclaycard

Hacker performing cyber attack on laptopResearch from Barclaycard claims cyber security is not being prioritized by small businesses, putting numerous organizations at risk of attack.

The findings state only 20% of the organizations surveyed believe cyber security is a top business priority, with 10% claiming their team has not invested in cyber security at all. The average attack costs UK businesses between £75,000 and £311,000 according to HM Government’s 2015 Information Security Breaches report, as more than 50% of the respondents believe their organization is at risk of a breach within the next 12 months.

“Businesses of all sizes face a constant and growing threat from cybercrime,” said Paul Clarke, Product Director at Barclaycard. “As our research shows, many small businesses are failing take the necessary precautions, either because they don’t know how to protect themselves or, more worryingly, because they don’t think they need to. At Barclaycard we work with our customers to ensure they are aware of the growing threats they face and understand how they can protect themselves from cyber threats.”

Worryingly for business owners throughout the UK, only 13% of those who completed the survey believe they have the relevant skills to adequately protect themselves online. This statistic, combined with the lack of prioritization around security, may indicate decision makers believe their organization is safer, as cyber criminals would target the larger and more data heavy businesses in the UK.

While this may be considered a perception held by small businesses, the findings claim just under half have been hit by at least one cyber-attack in the past year, with a tenth experiencing more than four attacks.

“Cybersecurity is not a one-off investment that can then be forgotten about, especially as criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they target businesses,” said Clarke. “For fifty years we’ve been working in partnership with customers to ensure they are not only putting the right measures in place from the outset, but are also continuously reviewing their policies to keep up with the latest industry developments.”

How SMEs are benefitting from hybrid cloud architecture in the best of both worlds

Firm handshakeHybrid cloud architecture has been a while maturing, but now offers businesses unparalleled flexibility, ROI and scalability. The smaller the business, the more vital these traits are, making hybrid cloud the number one choice for SMEs in 2016.

It’s been more than two years since Gartner predicted that, by 2017, 50 per cent of enterprises would be using a hybrid of public and private cloud operations. This prediction was based on growing private cloud deployment coupled with interest in hybrid cloud, but a lack of actual uptake – back then in 2013. “Actual deployments [of hybrid cloud] are low, but aspirations are high”, said Gartner at the time.

It’s fair to say that Gartner’s prediction has been borne out, with hybrid cloud services rapidly becoming a given for a whole range of businesses, but perhaps less predictably the value of hybrid is being most felt in the SME sector, where speed, ROI and overall flexibility are most intensely valued. As enterprise data requirements continue to rocket – indeed overall business data volume is growing at a rate of more than 60 per cent annually – it’s not hard to see why this sector is burgeoning.

Data protection is no longer an option

Across the board, from major corporations through to SMEs in particular, there’s now clear recognition that data protection is no longer merely a “nice-to-have”, it’s a basic requirement for doing business. Not being able to access customer, operational or supply-chain data for even short periods can be disastrous, and every minute of downtime impacts on ROI. Critically, losing data permanently threatens to damage operational function, as well as business perception. The latter point is particularly important in terms of business relationships with suppliers and customers that may have taken years to develop, but can be undone in the course of a few hours of unexplained downtime. It’s never been easier to take business elsewhere, so the ability to keep up and running irrespective of hardware failure or an extreme weather event is essential.

Speed and cost benefits combined

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of hybrid cloud technology (a combination of on-premises and off-premises deployment models) is that SMEs are presented with enterprise class IT capabilities at a much lower cost. SMEs that outsource the management of IT services through Managed Service Providers (MSP), pay per seat, for immediate scalability, and what’s more avoid the complexity of managing the same systems in-house. This model also avoids the requirement for capital investment, allowing SMEs to avoid large upfront costs, but still enjoy the benefits – such as data protection in the example of hybrid cloud data backup.

One UK business that saved around £200,000 in lost revenue due to these benefits is Mandarin Stone, a natural stone and tile retailer. Having implemented a hybrid cloud disaster recovery system from Datto the company experienced an overheated main server just months later, but were able to switch operations to a virtualised cloud server in just hours while replacement hardware was setup, in contrast to a previous outage that took days to resolve. “Datto was invaluable,” said Alana Preece, Mandarin Stone’s Financial Director, “and the device paid for itself in that one incident. The investment [in a hybrid cloud solution] was worth it.”

The considerable upside of the hybrid model is that where immediate access to data or services is required, local storage devices can make this possible without any of the delay associated with hauling large datasets down from the cloud. SMEs in particular are affected by bandwidth concerns as well as costs. In the event of a localised hardware failure or loss of a business mobile device, for example, data can be locally restored in just seconds.

Unburden the network for better business

Many hybrid models use network downtime to backup local files to the cloud, lowering the impact on bandwidth during working hours, but also ensuring that there is an off-premises backup in place in the event of a more serious incident such as extreme weather, for example. Of course, this network management isn’t a new idea, but with a hybrid cloud setup it’s much more efficient – for example, in a cloud-only implementation the SMEs server will have an agent or multiple agents running to dedupe, compress and encrypt each backup, using the server’s resources. A local device taking on this workload leaves the main server to deal with the day-to-day business unhindered, and means that backups can be made efficiently as they’re required, then uploaded to the cloud when bandwidth is less in demand.

Of course, since Gartner’s original prediction there’s been considerable consumer uptake of cloud-based backups such as Apple’s iCloud and Google’s Drive, which has de-stigmatised the cloud and driven acceptance and expectations. SME’s have been at the forefront of this revolution, making cloud technology far more widely accepted as being reliable, cost-effective, low-hassle and scalable. The fact that Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 are both largely cloud-based show just how the adoption barriers have fallen since 2013, which makes reassuring SME decision-makers considerably easier for MSPs.

Compliance resolved

Compliance can be particularly onerous for SMEs, especially where customer data is concerned. For example, the global demands of a standard like PCI DSS, or HIPAA (for those with North American operations) demand specific standards of care in terms of data storage, retention and recovery. Hybrid solutions can help smooth this path by providing compliant backup storage off-premises for retention, protect data from corruption and provide a ‘paper trail’ of documentation that establishes a solid data recovery process.

Good news for MSPs

Finally, hybrid cloud offers many benefits for the MSP side of the coin, delivering sustainable recurring revenues, not only via the core backup services themselves, which will tend to grow over time as data volumes increase, but also via additional services. New value-add services might include monitoring the SME’s environment for new backup needs, or periodic business continuity drills, for example, to improve the MSPs customer retention and help their business grow.

Written by Andrew Stuart, Managing Director, EMEA, Datto


About Datto

Datto is an innovative provider of comprehensive backup, recovery and business continuity solutions used by thousands of managed service providers worldwide. Datto’s 140+ PB private cloud and family of software and hardware devices provide Total Data Protection everywhere business data lives. Whether your data is on-prem in a physical or virtual server, or in the cloud via SaaS applications, only Datto offers end-to-end recoverability and single-vendor accountability. Founded in 2007 by Austin McChord, Datto is privately held and profitable, with venture backing by General Catalyst Partners. In 2015 McChord was named to the Forbes “30 under 30” ranking of top young entrepreneurs.

Google said to be on cloud shopping spree

Googlers having funGoogle is rumoured to be planning the acquisition of a number of businesses to bolster its cloud computing platform and suite of workplace applications.

According to Re/code, the tech giant has amassed a short-list of various start-ups and niche service providers including automated app services start-up Metavine, e-commerce public company Shopify, and payroll and health benefits services business Namely. Re/code sources have stressed that the approaches are preliminary, and none of the companies involved have commented on the rumours.

The moves seem to address two challenges currently facing the Google team. Firstly, there is a notable gap of ‘middle range’ customers for Google Apps. The company traditionally does well with small and large companies, but has struggled with the lucrative market in between. Last year, Google attempted to lure the middle market onto Google Apps for Work by offering the service for free while seeing out their current enterprise agreement, and then $25 per user after that point.

Secondly, the acquisitions would enable Google to move its internal systems to its cloud platform, potentially creating a more solid offering to challenge AWS and Microsoft Azure.

The reports back-up recent moves in the market which indicated Google’s intentions of increasing its stake in the cloud market. While AWS and Microsoft have been firmly planted as the number one and number two players in the public and private cloud space, Google is closing the gap, making a number of company and talent acquisitions to improve its proposition.

Aside from the recent hire of VMware founder Diane Greene to lead its cloud business, last year SVP of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle highlighted that Google cloud platform revenues could surpass Google’s advertising revenue within five years.

“The goal is for us to talk about Google as a cloud company by 2020,” said Hölzle in October. “Our cloud growth rate is probably industry-leading…and we have lots of enterprise customers, happy enterprise customers.”

The rumours shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Hölzle also said that there would be a number of announcements which would “remove any doubt” from Google’s future plans.

While the approaches are rumours, GCP Next 2016, the company’s cloud developer user conference taking place this week, may provide some clarity to Google’s aspirations.

Cloud business users grow faster and are twice as profitable says study

Companies that commit themselves to cloud computing are likely to grow faster and enjoy twice the profit of their non-cloud using rivals, according to a study. The research also indicates that the UK is leading Europe in cloud adoption. However, one critic said there is no evidence that cloud computing creates productivity, or is a consequence of it.

The Exact 2015 SME Cloud Barometer report, an independent study of 2,975 SME leaders in the UK, the USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, found a correlation between companies with three or more cloud products and revenue growth. The ‘heavy users’ of cloud achieved higher revenue growth and over twice the profit of their less committed cloud users.

Penetration of cloud computing in the UK is relatively high in comparison with its European peers, according to the study. The UK has the second highest number of ‘heavy’ cloud software users (27 per cent) behind the USA on 29 per cent. However, the Netherlands, Belgium and France were not significantly behind, with their rates of cloud adoption being 25, 24 and 24 per cent respectively. Germany, with a cloud adoption rate of 10 per cent, was more significantly behind.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of the UK sample of small and medium sized enterprises SMEs now use at least one cloud business software tool.

The study examined the correlation between growth and cloud adoption and found that on average those companies it defined as heavy users enjoyed revenue growth of 26 per cent in 2015. In comparison the companies that used only one or two cloud computing systems grew revenues by an average of 14 per cent. Those with no cloud systems at all showed the slowest growth rates, with revenues on average growing by 10 per cent.

Of the UK sample, the most popular reason given (by 54 per cent of the survey) for adopting new cloud systems was that the ‘need to replace outdated versions’. Saving money on IT was the most frequently cited motivation for cloud computing among UK SMEs. Getting better access to information was the third most important criterion for cloud.

Erik van der Meijden, CEO of study sponsor Exact, claimed that most SMEs see it as a strategic purchase. “[They] said they felt that technology is going to have a strong impact on the competitive landscape in their market over the next three years,” said Meijden.

However, analyst Clive Longbottom, principal researcher at Quocirca, said the link between cloud and productivity needs more definition. “Causality is something that doesn’t seem to be taken into account here,” said Longbottom, “slow-thinking companies that are performing badly are unlikely to be at the leading edge of technology. Those that see technology as a core part of their business will tend to perform better.”