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Midsize businesses, those with 100–999 employees, are under increasing competitive pressure from both above and below. Larger companies benefit from economies of scale as well as national and even global capabilities to go after customers that midsize firms may once have had to themselves. Smaller firms are leveraging new technology, building more efficient infrastructure, and showing great agility as they also compete with midsize firms for new customers. Clearly, a return to "business as usual" when it comes to technology investment will not be the answer for midsize firms — fresh thinking is called for.
For many companies, cloud computing (and the public cloud in particular) will be a new way to gain access to important productivity resources in an effective and affordable way. Firms need to expand and be flexible as business conditions change. But they also need to sharpen their defenses against vulnerability to make certain that they can recover from any accident, whether through disaster or human error, that might threaten the business. Empowering business growth and improving data protection are not contradictory goals since advanced technology can be deployed to effectively support both.
A growing number of large businesses are already using cloud resources, and some small firms are making use of online applications to sidestep traditional hardware and software solutions. The question for midsize firms is whether or not alternative approaches can provide more efficient access to advanced capabilities coordinated through off-premises delivery. This IDC Executive Brief reviews different cloud computing approaches and provides a framework for evaluating different cloud solutions. It also reviews the kinds of resources that have gained the most traction with midsize firms, examines future trends, and discusses the five key questions that companies should consider as they move forward with potential cloud implementation.