MicroData of Beverly, Massachusetts provides tech support services to small and mid-sized businesses throughout Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. According to president and CEO Glenn Mores, hybrid cloud solutions are “very hot” right now. Here Mores discusses cost and security issues with cloud computing.

What type of financial investment is required to move to cloud computing?

The financial commitment with the Cloud varies depending upon how deeply a customer commits, but the first thing to remember is that you are entering into a recurring billing scenario. Like a cell phone, you’ll be making a payment month after month forever. At the low end, Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps can get a business started with the basics for $5 per month per user. That will cover online storage for each user, browser versions of productivity applications and email, but of course you’ll need to include accounting, CRM tools, etc. And, if you’re in a business that requires HIPAA compliance or special items like archiving, base costs can quickly exceed $20 per user. Plus, if you have an existing company and need to migrate old data to the Cloud, plan on bringing in a professional to help with that. It’s not uncommon to budget one to two hours per user at $150 per hour for the migration work.

How do you address your clients’ security concerns with cloud services?

First, we advise our customers to start by defining specifically what security concerns or needs they have. For example, if a customer works with medical data and needs to be HIPAA compliant, that immediately rules out certain cloud options where the provider won’t sign a Business Associates Agreement. This allows us to recommend solutions that closely fit our customers’ needs.

Second, we advise them to consider staying with either a trusted local player with a great reputation, one of the major cloud players like Google or Microsoft, or Apple for Mac aficionados, or some combination of the two.

Third, we advise clients to take reasonable precautions with data wherever it’s located. That means using encryption, making and enforcing company policies for use of flash drives and smartphones, using and changing passwords and securing their local network and wireless systems. The greatest risk to data comes from local sources and employees, either deliberately or inadvertently.

And finally, if they are absolutely uncomfortable with relinquishing control over their data to anyone in the cloud, we recommend they just keep their data on-premises. It can definitely be done reliably and economically.



This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse



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