Disaster recovery needs leading SMBs to cloud

At least one-third of small businesses in a Symantec study pointed to data backup as a big consideration for their move to the cloud, echoing other research.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

More than one-third of small and midsize businesses are using private or public cloud services, and the need for better data protection and backup options is leading them there, according to a new Symantec survey.

The research, which tapped the opinons of more than 2,050 SMBs with five to 250 employees in 30 countries, found that 43 percent of the respondents were using private cloud services, while 40 percent have opted for public offerings.

An interest in being prepared for technology disruptions or supporting a growing number of mobile workers played a big role in the adoption of those services, the vendor reports. (We shouldn't be surprised because, after all, this data is published as part of Symantec's 2012 Disaster Preparedness Survey.)

But the fact is that the need to be prepared for a data disruption had a "moderate to large" effect on at least 34 percent of the SMBs that had opted for cloud services, the research shows.

It's another classic dilemma for small businesses: on the one hand, cloud services could help provide a need for something that most small companies can't handle and manage on their own -- ongoing backup and business continuity planning. On the other, putting your data in the public cloud remains inherently insecure.

The Symantec research dovetails with an April 2012 survey about SMB IT spending by Spiceworks that actually suggests a higher level of cloud services usage. In that study, cloud backup was listed as the third most popular cloud service.

Leading cloud backup and storage services specifically focused on small businesses include Backblaze, Carbonite, Mozy and SpiderOak.

When I interviewed several IT solution providers about this subject in April, they told me that are routinely suggesting that their clients use a cloud service to back up if the only alternative is to do nothing at all.

They sounded a word of caution about cloud storage services, such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive, saying these services are inherently insecure. "[Small businesses] assume safety with the cloud, whether that is true or not," said Larry Velez, chief technical officer of Sinu, a managed service provider in New York. "In some cases, this is reasonable. The bigger danger is whether you are able to go back in time."

Velez's comment refers to the fact that many cloud storage offerings don't offer version control, so if someone overwrites a file, it can be difficult to recover an early version (or versions).

Something to think about.

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