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How Cloud Enables Digital Transformation for Small and Medium Businesses

Whether you are an owner of a thriving small business or a decision maker at an established enterprise, you cannot ignore digital technology. Businesses worldwide are going digital to deliver compelling experiences to customers, which is becoming a key differentiating factor.

The rise of social and mobile have increased the discoverability of businesses. Consumers are turning to social media to find the right product and retailers based on recommendations and reviews from their friends. Before embracing social media, it is important for businesses to have a visible online presence. Having a website is the first step towards adopting the digital transformation strategy. It becomes the focal point for establishing a strong online presence, which will be amplified through search engine optimization, digital ads, and social media engagement.

As a small and medium business owner, you should invest in a domain name that is representative of your company. There are many tips for buying the right domain for your company. Once you block the domain, then comes the most challenging part of going online – web hosting.

Traditionally, technology-savvy entrepreneurs chose a web hosting platform for publishing their corporate website. But with the emergence of cloud computing, there are cheaper and efficient alternatives available.

Cloud companies such as DigitalOcean and Packet are designed for developers and startups. DigitalOcean is a young New York-based cloud computing company that offers best of the both worlds – web hosting and cloud. Linode is another provider specializing in Virtual Private Servers (VPS), that offer dedicated virtual machines to developers. Even those businesses with no dedicated technology teams can quickly get started with DigitalOcean and Linode.

Let’s understand how these emerging cloud computing platforms are better than traditional web hosting companies.

Pricing Model

Small and medium businesses are cost conscious and do not want to commit their spending for the long term. Web hosting companies sell plans that include hosting space and bandwidth on an annual basis. Customers must sign a contract that locks for them for a year.  Some of the offerings such as DigitalOcean and Amazon Lightsail offer a flexible pricing model that starts from $5 a month with no annual contracts and commitments. Customers can assess the return on investment on the website month on the month before increasing the spend. Cloud computing converts capital expenditure to operational costs, which doesn’t burden entrepreneurs.

Flexibility

The technology landscape is moving fast. Consumers are rapidly adopting technology as a tool to make decisions. Businesses need to align with the pace of technology to stay connected with potential customers.

Web hosting doesn’t offer the level of flexibility that businesses need to stay current. With fixed plans, templates, and content management systems, there is a limited choice for customers.

Cloud platforms such as DigitalOcean deliver a broad range of options to customers. They can choose from a variety of content management systems, templates, frameworks, widgets, and themes. For developers, the cloud offers the choice of operating systems, languages, runtimes, libraries, and frameworks. It is easy for businesses to test a variety of options before finalizing the best combination that is aligned with the customer expectations.

Many of the contemporary cloud platform vendors offer pre-configured virtual serversthat come with popular web applications such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Customers can launch with them a few clicks, and customize them to meet their requirements.

Global Presence

Gone are the days where businesses were confined to a specific geographic location. Today, if you have a great product, you can take that to the global audience. With logistics and shipping becoming affordable, consumers don’t compromise on quality. They are going for the best irrespective of the location.

When targeting global customers, it is important to localize and customize your website for the potential regions. Your website should be accessible and responsive to the customers. Web hosting companies do not offer the flexibility of hosting your website in the region of your choice. That increases the latency which slows down the web site performance, which negatively impacts the customer experience.

Cloud providers have a global footprint. DigitalOcean has over 12 datacenters across three continents, which delivers the best possible performance for websites and applications accessed from these locations. Other cloud vendors such as AWS, Google, IBM, and Microsoft have multiple datacenters in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Japan. Businesses can create a web site and easily customize it for each location. This ensures consistent look and feel of the website across all the locations.

Control

Web hosting providers restrict access to the underlying technology. Since the infrastructure is shared among multiple subscribers, there is limited control over the resources and configuration.

While being flexible, cloud also gives enough control to customers. For those who prefer taking the driver’s seat, the cloud provides root access to the servers. This capability brings ultimate control to the administrators and developers.

When your business grows, you would want to expand your digital presence. DigitalOcean provides an easy upgrade path to your servers. You can start small and gradually increase your investment.

Features such as scheduled backups and snapshots ensure that your online assets are always available. Most of the cloud offerings come with a service level agreement (SLA) of 99.99% which guarantees the availability of the network, power, and server availability.

If you engage a 3rd party agency for designing, developing, and deploying your web application, the Teams feature of DigitalOcean provides the right level of collaboration to you. With this feature, you can invite and manage users, ensure security with two-factor authentication, and control your resource spend with centralized billing.

If you have  decided to go online to embrace digital transformation, it’s time for you to consider cloud instead of a traditional web hosting provider. Cloud computing will make you future proof while delivering many benefits that result in better return on investment from your digital strategy.

Janakiram MSV is an analyst, advisor, and architect. Follow him on Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

Janakiram MSVHow Cloud Enables Digital Transformation for Small and Medium Businesses

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