SMB Cloud Outlook for 2013

    The Christmas Eve outage experienced by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that was attributed to human error aside, the cloud has growth to be a platform that is both robust and trusted by businesses today. As we start a brand new year, what is the outlook like for small and mid-sized businesses?

    Ed Abrams, vice president of IBM Midmarket Business, sent along some trends that IBM sees for SMBs in 2013. I highlight three of them below.

    Using Cloud to Gain a Competitive Advantage

    According to Abrams, the days of concern about putting data into the cloud are in large part over for SMBs. Smaller businesses are getting more and more comfortable in taking core technology-based processes and moving them to the cloud, he says.

    “SMBs are seeing cloud as a way to grow their businesses and gain access to technology solutions that they once thought were unaffordable,” writes Abrams. “Cloud, through usage based pricing models is giving SMBs the ability to apply technology in new areas to drive growth”

    On this front, I’ve written extensively about how SMBs may leverage the cloud to their advantage, which you can find in “How to Utilize the Cloud in Your SMB and Mind the Pitfalls.”

    Cloud in Disaster Recovery

    When combined with a comprehensive security and data protection solution, the cloud can also enable SMBs to better prepare for, and quickly recover from, potential disasters. As noted by Abrams, this could range from a flood or fire, to more mundane — but far likelier — scenarios such as lost or stolen mobile devices and laptops.

    Getting Ahead with Managed Service Providers

    Almost four years ago, I wrote on SMB Tech that the cloud may not necessarily be for every SMB. To support my point, I drew attention to how limited cloud solutions were at that time, as well as highlighted the deployment and development complexity. Things have changed on the former, though the inherent need for specialized knowledge for individual cloud platforms is still true today.

    Complexity is hardly the major handicap it once was though, given that SMBs are starting to gravitate towards managed service providers (MSPs) as a means of acquiring capability. Indeed, Abrams noted that MSPs may be a more effective choice than large public cloud providers, due to how they can provide the advice and guidance that smaller businesses need in order to migrate their businesses to the cloud.

    Ultimately, there is no doubt that the judicious use of cloud services can help an SMB free up much-needed resources in order to concentrate on fostering innovation and business growth. How does your SMB intend to use cloud services in 2013? Feel free to add a note in the comments section below.

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