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Small Businesses Get Taste of Cloud Computing, Cafeteria-Style




Cloud computing can be a godsend for small businesses. You pay someone else to host your computing resources and IT services so you can focus on your business, not spend your time addressing IT issues. The trick is finding the right cloud solution provider.

It's like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You want a solution that's just right. You shouldn't have to buy a  prix fixe multi-course meal when all you need, want or can afford is an a la carte menu. Cafeteria-style pricing, where a customer can pick and chose and pay accordingly, would be an attractive option.

That's the notion that Contegix, a cloud-hosting company , had in mind when it developed its MiraCloud customizable cloud platform. It offers a self-service, cafeteria-style menu of cloud-computing services and features that can be fine-tuned to a business's specific needs. It's particularly suited to the needs of small and seasonal businesses.

"It's like a built-to-order IT system," Matthew Porter, Contegix co-founder and CEO, told BusinessNewsDaily.

The platform offers customers a three-tiered cloud-hosting model — convenience class, business class and enterprise class — with options that range from self-managed cloud computing to a private enterprise cloud.  MiraCloud lets customers mix and match elements from each tier to create a hybrid IT system that addresses their specific needs and operating requirements. There is no fixed menu.

Customers are able to select the level of service and support they require and are charged only for what they use. This is particularly advantageous for seasonal businesses such as Halloween shops and Christmas stores or businesses with the need to handle bursts of processing that come from fulfilling special promotions, for example.

One company's customized cloudscape might look something like this: A small accounting firm with year-round clients would have a highly secure cloud to handle on-going client records and billing details. Because this data storehouse would house sensitive client records and information that could be summoned by various government entities on short notice, it would also have to have high availability, i.e. minimum down time.

That same company might also have another general storage cloud to house less-sensitive internal documents and records that require less security and availability. And a third on-demand  cloud with rapid, high-speed processing would enable the firm to meet increased client demand during the busy income tax season.

A simple web interface allows customers to easily manage and access cloud resources, including budgets and overall spending. Computing capacity is charged on an hourly or monthly basis, with average monthly bills running between $140 and $155, Porter said. MiraCloud also makes migration to the cloud easy with a seamless transition from physical hosts to virtual hosts.

"We work diligently to make sure the process is not overwhelming," Porter said. "We are committed to investing in the future of the cloud and by offering greater flexibility we are giving customers the opportunity to create a cloud solution that works best for them. Because we have been in the cloud space since its inception, we understand how these systems can be utilized and have built a platform based on the idea that our customers understand their needs better than anyone."


Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.




Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.