ImageIf you thought cloud computing was just for large enterprises, think again. Any small-to-midsized business (SMB) can benefit from using the cloud to streamline operations, reduce overhead, cut costs and increase scalability, as outlined by Cloud Business Review.

Leveraging the cloud can also help SMBs grow and expand as well as open up new business opportunities and provide inroads into new markets, according to a comScore study of small businesses in the U.S., India, Hong Kong and Malaysia, commissioned by Microsoft.

Many SMBs may be wary of cloud technology, said Dark Reading writer Kelly Jackson Higgins, because of security, privacy and reliability concerns. Yet those issues are quickly being addressed, according to the Microsoft study nicely summarized in an article by the staff of CloudTimes, an online newspaper dedicated to covering cloud issues, news and trends.

And even if you don’t think your company’s ready to move to the cloud, chances are your employees already have. If that’s the case, you need to make a plan to incorporate the Cloud safely and efficiently.

First, small businesses should look at how your IT staff spends its time and budget, and consider cloud services that will take pressure off them.

Is your business challenged by support and management requirements for widely used applications? A cloud-based service can host your cloud application for you, offers contracts that include support and can also eliminate the need to do patches and upgrades at every client device.

Another question to ask is: ‘What is the current state of my company’s data storage?” Are your storage needs close to exceeding your physical capacity? According to CDW’s Cloud Computing Tracking Poll, storage services are one of the most commonly used cloud applications.

Even if you’re not ready to move your entire infrastructure into the cloud, just transferring less critical items, like backup or archived data, to the cloud can help reduce the time you spend managing and upgrading data storage solutions.

It’s important to understand that cloud computing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each business is unique, with varying budgets and capacities, so your business may need a custom solution. The good news is, the Cloud is as flexible and scalable and varied as the unique requirements of small businesses. Because of its flexibility, cost savings and efficiencies, the Cloud is a perfect fit with SMBs.

About the Author: This post is by Rackspace blogger Sharon Florentine.