How Startups Can Overcome Obstacles In Their Cloud Journey The SMB segment in the cloud market grapples with its unique technical and business challenges, currently exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis

By Prabhakar Jayakumar

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of global economies and contribute significantly to a country's socio-economic objectives. However, across industries, the SMB sector is often overlooked, even though it represents close to 90 per cent of all registered businesses and employs half the world's workforce. Yet these businesses continue to remain underserved in comparison to large enterprises.

The SMB segment in the cloud market grapples with its unique technical and business challenges, currently exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. According to DigitalOcean's Currents Report, a survey of 500 SMBs, an increasing number of SMBs are on the cusp of migrating applications and data to the cloud to gain benefits such as increased flexibility and agility to scale, enhanced storage and bandwidth, and reduced costs. The pandemic has accelerated these increased investments in multi-cloud disaster recovery and security audits.

Although many startups have embraced the cloud, their journeys lack a seamless experience. According to the survey, a large number of businesses encounter barriers when navigating the shift to the cloud. To help new and growing businesses succeed in cloud adoption strategy, we've identified the biggest challenges startups need to overcome to get the full value of the cloud.

Cost of maintaining IT infrastructure will delay cloud adoption
Over 80 per cent of Indian SMBs surveyed indicate they plan to increase cloud infrastructure investment in the next three to six months. However, new businesses have fewer resources, which could pose as a barrier to entry in the competitive cloud market. The cost of maintaining IT infrastructure presents a formidable obstacle to founders. According to the survey, startups with fewer than 100 employees spend an average of 52 per cent of their budgets on infrastructure. Bootstrapped startups face additional financial barriers and may not be eligible for startup accelerator programs. Transparent cloud service pricing is critical to supporting startups' success.

Reducing knowledge gaps will overcome fear of the cloud
The lack of know-how to help maintain technical infrastructure is another unique challenge facing SMBs as they need to keep pace with frequent technology upgrades and trends. Technology founders and decision-makers struggle with the depth of technical expertise required to manage cloud infrastructure.

The survey confirms 65 per cent of small businesses fear the lack of technical knowledge needed to maintain cloud infrastructure could pose a crucial barrier to public cloud adoption. In spite of this skills gap, our data indicates early-stage startups are still expanding cloud usage during the COVID-19 crisis.

This expertise gap is why moving forward, startups will find it even more critical to choose simple, easy to use, transparent and cost-effective cloud providers when faced with limited cloud development experience.

Ensuring security will drive cloud adoption
No discussion of the startup and SMB environment would be complete without mentioning the importance of security. Although IT security is the number one priority for startups, these businesses grapple with implementing security protocols. The stay-at-home economy necessitated by the pandemic has prompted companies to strengthen security measures.

Security concerns with open source software is another technical barrier to entry for startups. According to the survey, the two most popular security measures deployed by SMBs are operating system updates and management, and firewalls. Among other insights from the Currents Report, 72 per cent of small businesses are deploying firewalls to ramp up organizational security measures. Further, India's burgeoning developer community is expected to fast-track the shift to cloud adoption and increase spending on multi-cloud disaster recovery and availability.

Given these trends, SMBs are well-advised to strengthen cybersecurity strategy and prioritize features such as firewalls, network security, and data protection. In the new normal, virtual private clouds (VPCs) may also gain popularity.

As startups continue to adapt to the evolving needs presented by the pandemic, experts predict cloud will remain the backbone of the post-COVID tech landscape. However, concerns about hardware costs and continuing maintenance expenses means SMBs should find creative ways to reduce IT infrastructure costs. Further, given the growing popularity of the cloud, startups should anticipate and protect platforms and infrastructure from future security threats. Founders and developers in the SMB segment should also support employees by offering training and development in cloud computing.

In a nutshell, a heightened awareness of cloud technology's implementation and usage will facilitate a streamlined shift to the cloud and enable startups to overcome significant barriers to adoption.

Prabhakar Jayakumar

Global Head-Go To Market, DigitalOcean

Prabhakar Jayakumar is the Global Head-Go To Market of DigitalOcean, responsible for running the firm’s operations in India. Building localized go-to-market strategies to increase user base and driving revenue growth in India are among his primary areas of focus. He has over nine years of experience across business development, marketing and technology consulting functions in Internet and Ecommerce domains.He is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and NITK Surathkal.

Being only the second hire for Amazon’s International expansion team in India, Prabhakar played a key role in planning and launching and marketplace businesses in India.

Related Topics


International Security Firm Welcomes Female India Native to an Essential Leadership Position

Yasmin Brar has been appointed as the Operations Strategy Director, a role that underscores the company's commitment to innovation, expansion, and strategic management

News and Trends

Zydus Wellness: Leveraging FMCG Trends To Turn Around Tables

Price-pack architecture, e-commerce, Internet first brands and increased penetration in smaller pockets, are the current focus of the company

Business Solutions

Get More Done with ChatGPT for Just $20

This ChatGPT course can help you streamline your business.

News and Trends

Kaynes Semicon To Invest INR 4,000 Crore On OSAT/ATMP

The investment is expected to create around 1,000-plus jobs


6 Tips for Successfully Communicating Your Personal Brand

Follow these simple guidelines to stand out from the crowd and effectively broadcast your own personal brand to the world.

Business News

Here Are 3 Strategies Startup Founders Can Use to Approach High-Impact Disputes

The $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup Klarna recently faced a public board spat. Here are three strategies to approach conflict within a business.