The opportunity to serve small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) with cloud services is going to take off in 2015. As the scope of SMB cloud deployments grows beyond a single service, they will need their channel partners more than ever.
The foundations have been laid in 2014 with initial deployments of cloud services like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and other solutions. From this beginning, SMBs will expand the number of services they use in the cloud. Their comfort levels and experience with cloud services continues to grow and the barriers to adopting new services are almost non-existent.
IDG Enterprise notes in its 2014 Cloud Computing Study that 69% of respondents to its cloud survey say they have at least one application or a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud. That’s a great start and demonstrates the role cloud is playing in the market. With at least one service in the cloud, there’s nothing stopping businesses from exploring other ways to use cloud in their operations.
Overall cloud investments are up 19% since 2012, according to IDG Enterprises, and we believe this growth will accelerate particularly amongst SMBs. The study does notes that there is a gap in the average spend on cloud between enterprises and SMBs but that seems natural as large enterprises are obviously going to spend more on cloud than smaller businesses.
This gap between enterprise and SMB spend will most likely never close but there are over 28 million small businesses in the US, according to the US Small Business Administration. What makes the SMB opportunity so exciting is that it represents such a massive addressable market.
Interconnects, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and carriers that can cater to the needs of SMBs with a suite of cloud services have a huge potential customer base. These channel partners can be their guide and advisor as they adopt more and more cloud services and look to the cloud to simplify their IT operations.
On top of the sheer size of the SMB market, 56% of respondents to the Cloud Computing Survey say, “We are still identifying IT operations that are candidates for cloud hosting.” This number represents enterprises and SMBs globally and is sure to be even higher amongst SMBs. The difference with SMBs is that they will rely on their channel partners to identify these opportunities and that represents a real opportunity for the channel.
When a SMB has adopted one cloud service, its channel partners have the opportunity to deliver a whole suite of additional cloud services and we see that as a tremendous growth driver in the New Year.