IT procurement can be a challenge for any business, regardless of size or sector. With so many different providers on the market and an array of technologies that promise to optimise business processes, finding the right solution can seem a little overwhelming. And that’s before provider and price options have even entered the equation!

With this in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that in a recent YouGov poll commissioned by M247, we found businesses often require ongoing service support and advice when investing in new technology, in particular the migration towards cloud services.

When we asked businesses which factors matter most to them when deciding on a cloud solutions provider, the time old favourite value for money came top of the list at 81%. However, this was followed by security (79%) and knowledge and support (71%), suggesting that money-savvy businesses prioritise the importance of comprehensive support alongside their cloud provision. Following closely behind, SLAs (Service Level Agreements) were identified as important by 70% of respondents, demonstrating the importance of fast and responsive support for any issues.

It’s fair to say that businesses have a lot to consider when deciding whether to move critical infrastructure to the cloud or keep it on-premise, and this can understandably appear more complex to a smaller business that may not have the internal knowledge to make a well-informed decision or resource to invest the critical time required.

While on-premise solutions require time, personnel and hardware to set up, cloud services in comparison can be implemented remotely and remove the hassle of ongoing maintenance. The same goes when upgrades are required; these can be deployed quickly and remotely through the cloud, whereas manual upgrades to on-premise solutions can be slow and costly. However, one of the main arguments for keeping services on-premise is the ability to customise to rapidly changing business needs and to maintain greater control over the implementation process. To get the best of both worlds, many businesses are opting for a hybrid cloud model, which allows a gradual migration and spreads the workload overtime.

Security is a key reason many businesses opt for the cloud, with its monitored network and server security offering greater peace of mind for businesses, whereas on-premise security is a more manual process and requires in-house expertise to manage. Additionally, there are also cost benefits to the cloud subscription model, as its regular, fixed payments can seem a lot more manageable as an operational cost, whereas on-premise solutions usually require a significant chunk of capital expenditure upfront, which not all businesses have available.

Whether SMEs are overwhelmed by cloud complexity, or whether larger organisations simply have a greater need for cloud services and the time and resource required to implement them, our poll highlighted that organisations with 250+ employees are much more likely to use cloud services, or have plans to in the near future. Taking public cloud as an example, 40% of large organisations we surveyed already have this implemented in their business, and a further 38% said they are looking to introduce it within the next year. In comparison, 21% of SMEs said they already use public cloud, and just 7% said they wanted to implement this within the next year.

Where smaller businesses may feel they lack the skills, resources or expertise to implement cloud technologies, outsourcing the responsibility to a managed cloud services provider enables them to rest assured knowing that the technology is taken care of, and that its potential will be maximised, on their behalf. These services can also be scaled up and down as and when they’re needed to cater to business requirements should it grow or need to adapt to enter new markets. However, regardless of business size of position, comprehensive support is available from managed service providers, ensuring that the journey to cloud or a hybrid model doesn’t feel too great a jump.

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