The cloud now plays a greater role in the enterprise world than ever before - of that there can be no doubt. It’s become a core deployment model for IT departments all across enterprise, and a key factor in small business growth. That last one is what we’re interested in discussing today. Let’s jump right in. One of the strengths of cloud computing is that it provides readily-scalable infrastructure - often at a fraction of what the real thing costs. What that means is that during periods of particularly high resource usage, a small business can ‘scale up’ its cloud network, dropping anything they don’t need when things calm down. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses that are just getting on their feet, allowing them the opportunity to rapidly scale their infrastructure and giving them the breathing room to implement a more permanent solution. Traditionally, that was the primary role of the cloud within smaller organizations. Public clouds provided them with all the processing power they needed without forcing them to spend on physical infrastructure. Private clouds, meanwhile, were generally out of the question - they lacked both the infrastructure and the budget to support them. By the time they could implement anything resembling a hybrid solution - by the time they could blend public cloud services with in-house infrastructure and their own privately-managed cloud - they could hardly be considered a small business anymore. According to Nick East, that’s changed. East, the CEO and co-founder of Zynstra - a startup designed to help businesses juggle the headaches of hybrid IT - believes that hybrid solutions are rapidly becoming the norm for businesses both small and large. Infrastructure doesn’t cost quite what it used to, meaning that smaller organizations now have the option to host mission-critical services under their own roof rather than the cloud - where such processes might not belong. It should be clear here that we’re not solely talking about hybrid clouds - which blend private and public cloud computing models - but rather a business environment where some workloads remain in the office and others are shunted to the cloud. “Hybrid IT solutions have been maturing, and now they can be a perfect match for small businesses, not just large enterprises,” writes Zynstra “Offering the full flexibility of cloud coupled with the assurance that comes from incorporating on-premises data centers, hybrid IT can be delivered as a seamless service through managed service providers to the widest addressable market.” In other words, a hybrid IT solution - once limited to large organizations - is now readily available to smaller organizations. As a business expands, it’s naturally going to implement some of its own architecture, merging that with the stuff it’s already hosting in the cloud. For small businesses, this is actually easier to do, since they generally needn’t worry about legacy architecture and the like - and it provides them a vital stepping stone on their road to growth.