As we've blogged before, there isn't a tech vendor out there that doesn't want a piece of the lucrative SMB market. Not a day goes by without an SMB-oriented product announcement, from the likes of IBM, SAP or HP. And most of the vendors are making a concerted effort to win the favor of the resellers that are a key conduit to SMB business.
One vendor that appears to have figured out what it takes to appeal to SMBs, opines ZDNet blogger David Berlind, is Google. It's actually the concept of cloud computing that Berlind champions for SMBs. But he uses Google Apps to illustrate his point.
After noting that managing e-mail in-house is a hassle and a cost center for most SMBs, Berlind says that Google offers a compelling alternative: 25 gigs of personal storage for each user, at a cost of just $50 a year, with no need for additional hardware, minimal software and little in the way of management. It's also attractive because it can be booked as a service rather than a capital expense.
In addition to e-mail, business subscribers to Google Apps also get Web hosting, calendaring and a passel of other applications that offer functionality at least somewhere in the neighborhood of Microsoft Office. (Pretty much everyone, including Berlind, agrees that Google Apps are not as robust as their desktop counterparts. Even Google employees only use Apps internally and as an add-on to Office, according to a recent Burton Group report.)
Back in December, an EDS fellow predicted that SMBs would be quicker to warm to the idea of cloud computing than their larger counterparts.
Also capitalizing on the idea, Amazon also offers a variety of services, from data storage to processing power, on a pay-per-play basis. And Dell created a cloud computing division earlier this year, although its initial target for the service appears to be providers that in turn might sell it to SMBs.