Sunday, April 15, 2012

SMBs and Cloud Services

I was browsing through my RSS reader recently and found the following interesting article from Box Free IT:

http://www.boxfreeit.com.au/Productivity/small-businesses-using-cloud-to-triple-in-next-three-years.html

Now all of this comes from a Microsoft funded survey of influencers at 3,000 SMB’s including some here in Australia. Now because it comes from Microsoft you do have to take the figures with a grain of salt, however the trends are still very interesting.

If you dig into the article you’ll find the actual Microsoft article at:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2012/mar12/03-28SMBCloudPR.aspx

Which too contains a graphic:


 This one aimed at the opportunity for the SMB reseller. Now, as I have mentioned many time here before I certainly believe there are plenty of opportunities for resellers BUT they are going come without some pain and re-alignment for these resellers.

Take for example the figure that 65% expect to be using cloud based email services in the next 2-3 years. This means that there is going to much less call for a product like Exchange Server on site for SMB’s. It is also going to mean that ancillary services like message hygiene (spam and virus filtering basically) are also going to move into the cloud and away from reseller revenue streams. Conversely to that you also see figures there like 60% don’t have the resources to implement new technologies and applications. That is certainly an opportunity, however it also means that resellers who want to provide that need to get skilled up on these ‘new technologies and applications’. So an investment is required but it would certainly appear to be worth it.

Perhaps what these sort of surveys do is challenge the perception. Take a look at the figure that only 20% believe their data is less secure in the cloud than it is in their on-premise system. That is certainly contrary to what you hear out there generally.

What these survey’s do reinforce is that fact that there is still opportunity in the IT business no matter whether it is cloud based or not. Importantly however, cloud services are going to require some skills education, investment and development to reap the rewards. It is very unlikely that staying with the same old business model and the same old skills is going to provide you with more opportunity in the coming years.

In the end you can take away from these surveys what you want but to me the important thing is to look at the trends that all these surveys point to. If you are not paying attention, chances are you’ll get left behind and have to struggle. Don’t say that you haven’t been warned!