Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

How hybrid cloud IT helps small businesses stay competitive

Is your small business struggling to keep up with large enterprises with more resources? A hybrid cloud solution can help you stretch your resources farther.

HPE SMB-hybrid cloud-blog.jpgWhether they're looking to do business with a small business or a giant enterprise, customers' expectations are the same. They don't take into account that a big company has more financial and physical resources to employ in satisfying them. Instead, they simply expect every business to deliver the same value.

Though small businesses may lack the budgets to invest in the same in-house tech solutions as enterprises, the hybrid cloud can help them meet customer needs.

The combination of an intelligent in-house computing infrastructure and flexible cloud-based solutions can help smaller companies achieve similar results, pleasing their customers just as well as their larger counterparts do.

The case for the hybrid cloud

To understand hybrid cloud, start with that last part: cloud. Small businesses have been steadily adopting cloud solutions over the last few years as cloud computing has transitioned from being an emerging technology to being the norm. The cloud has allowed smaller businesses to access resources they would have had difficulty obtaining on their own.

However, exclusively deploying IT on a public cloud or even a private cloud can lead to gradually ballooning prices and a lack of control. That's why a hybrid cloud approach involving both in-house and public cloud computing is often the best strategy. Rather than an all-or-nothing approach, cloud computing and Hybrid IT allow you to decide how to best combine outside and in-house resources to gain what you want.

There can be reasons to run applications inside your four walls. For example, you might have highly sensitive data that you want to retain complete control over. Or perhaps you work in a strictly regulated industry and find it difficult to locate a cloud provider that can offer a sufficient level of compliance. In such cases, an on-premises deployment or a private cloud deployment would be the best choice. But these proprietary deployments can be complemented by public cloud solutions that give you more for your dollar.

When to use the cloud

A cloud service makes sense if it will save you money, increase business agility, or support a digital transformation. For instance, you may wish to rely on a cloud service when it's not cost-effective to manage commonly used software internally. Take Microsoft Office as an example. To deploy Microsoft Office in-house, a company would have to set up and maintain its own instance of Exchange Server. This can be demanding and require specialized expertise. By instead using Office 365, Microsoft's cloud offering, the company can have a public cloud take care of all the details, with little noticeable difference for end users.

A cloud service can also be advantageous when software is specialized, expensive, and rarely used. A small firm might want access to a single type of technical, financial, or marketing analysis only available in a costly niche tool. Large competitors could justify the price because many employees and projects would use it, letting the business broadly amortize the cost. The small firm can't make the same fiscal argument. But a public cloud service could make it relatively inexpensive to use.

Finally, the public cloud is useful when you want to adopt applications that require significant processing resources. Instead of constructing a large server room and spending money on additional hardware, you could run the software on a public cloud for access to the full complement of computing resources needed. Or, you could offload some of the work onto a cloud during periods of peak usage and process it in-house otherwise.

Preparing your infrastructure

In a hybrid cloud system, your cloud deployments and on-premises equipment work in tandem. So, choosing a cloud also requires the right in-house infrastructure. To decide exactly what you need to obtain, start by evaluating the total size of the workload that'll be running in-house, including the parts that must be in communication with the cloud.

Even if the majority of your deployment is in the cloud, the in-house environment will be your foundation. It therefore must include hardware and software that offers solid security options, sufficient storage and backup, and tools to manage the entire system. The specific answer for any company depends on its particular situation, but you can use online tools to size your environment and select the hardware that provides the control, security, and simplicity you need.

Once you've decided what belongs on premises and what belongs in the cloud, creating the actual hybrid solution is easier than it may seem. You'll first need to install software on the server to communicate with the cloud. Then, you can set up the necessary accounts on the cloud, including storage, and add any software the cloud system may need to sync with the in-house system. To conclude the process, verify that everything is working as it should. Each of these steps can be facilitated by a hardware vendor, such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, that can furnish software tools to simplify the management tasks that keep the on-premises and cloud systems working together.

A hybrid cloud infrastructure can elevate your business to new levels of productivity and efficiency so that you can compete with the capabilities of much larger companies. To that end, carefully decide what will be run in a cloud and how to set up your in-house infrastructure for hybrid IT success. Once you do, you'll be able to stretch your resources farther than ever before and compete with some of the largest organizations in your space.

Learn more about HPE Small Business Solutions.

Discover affordable IT solutions for your small businessSMB for Dummies.jpg

Ready to take the next step? Check out the SMB Hybrid IT for Dummies Guide. Because there are no “dumb” questions!

Or are you ready to purchase? Visit the HPE Store.


Meet Server Experts blogger Brian Mulvey, journalist.  Brian has written about technology, business, and their intersection for years. He has frequently covered small businesses and enterprises, IT infrastructure, and cybersecurity, all in the context of real-world commerce.

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