Unfortunately, this means smaller businesses (not necessarily financially but based on number of employees) are left behind as such companies believe there is not enough profit in providing them with cloud systems. The existing support companies for smaller businesses are adverse to the idea of providing cloud services because they will decrease their profit margins in the way they are currently set up. In part this is due to the price war going on between Microsoft and Google; prices for base packages are very low. IT companies providing for small business make a lot of money out of selling software and hardware. They currently have to overcompensate and sell companies more than they need, so if and when such companies grow, the IT structure can cope with it. They also make a lot of money out of maintenance when these systems fail.
Cloud systems basically remove these factors and thus a large amount of charges small business providers can justify. The cloud systems are based on massive, backed up infrastructure, meaning if there are any errors then systems are automatically rerouted and email, shared drive storage and collaboration tools will not go down. Microsoft and Google guarantee a 99.9 percent uptime which equates to eight hours and 46 minutes a year downtime (24/7), and any business will tell you that this is a vast improvement on in-house systems. Also, if your system were to go down in the middle of the night or on a weekend, it will be fixed before you even find out, rather than discovering the problem when you are due to start work and then having to wait for it to be fixed. Security en masse is better too. If someone wants to hack your in-house system they will find it a lot easier to do than hacking Microsoft, then finding your system within the cloud (a needle in a haystack), then hacking that.
All other independent providers (such as Cobweb, Rackspace and 1&1) are providing their own systems based on Google or Microsoft offerings. With no clear definitions yet in place, it is a minefield for anybody who is not an expert to know which service provides what, with endless technical jargon specific to each provider.
Cloud Hypermarket has grouped such technical jargon into specific fields so companies can compare and contrast the features offered by each one. You can buy direct services with Google and Microsoft or go to an independent vendor -- they provide a gateway to any of these services. They offer telephone advice as they may still have questions regarding each service. One of their important selling points is that they are completely impartial -- comparing Microsoft and Google services, as well as services of independent resellers such as Cobweb, Rackspace and 1&1.
The biggest stumbling block so far has been the amount of confusion surrounding the 'Internet cloud.' Most people have heard of it but are not sure exactly what it is and why it is to their advantage to use it. During recent user testing, several testers stated that they were IT savvy and knew about the cloud -- but they came up with some extremely variable definitions. Reports from certain providers and reports suggest that around 60 percent of small businesses have not heard of the cloud, or have no idea what it is.
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