SMB Customers Turn to Cloud for Increased Agility, Competitiveness

A new study of SMB customers by Techaisle suggests that cloud computing has become a strategic platform for small and midsize (SMBs) customers, not just a tactical tool used for saving a few bucks.

The new report, which is entitled “SMB & Mid-Market Cloud Computing Adoption Trends,” highlights seven distinct developments underway in this important customer segment. Among them: SMB customers who once turned to cloud computing as a means to save money now do so with the expectation that it will increase their agility and competitiveness.

In addition to why the cloud is being adopted, the study also zeroed in on other trends, including who inside SMB companies drives adoption, what kinds of clouds they use, why cloud usage patterns change and how, who is responsible for security, what are the attributes of successful cloud implementations and what are the inhibitors to broader adoption.

When it comes to cloud adoption, Techaisle’s research finds that traditional IT decision makers (ITDMs) still take charge for platform technologies such as virtualization and mobile-device management, but yield to business decision-makers when it comes to identifying and deciding on software used as a service (SaaS). This is especially true when it comes to key applications such as customer resource management (CRM) and sales-force automation (SFA). In fact, business decision-makers (BDMs) are not only taking a leadership role when it comes to selecting which SaaS applications are brought into their organizations, but also how they are being used and managed, especially when it comes to “big data,” business intelligence and analytics, collaboration and social media.

“ITDMs retain responsibility for deployment and training, but optimization is now also primarily the responsibility of BDMs,” the study found.

The fact that lines of business are taking responsibility for optimization underscores just how diffused technology acquisition and management has come. It also suggests that reining in spending on cloud technology that takes place outside the purview of traditional IT departments is not likely to happen anytime soon.

In fact, the Techaisle study reveals how cloud computing has thoroughly transformed applications and functionality acquisition inside SMB customers.

“The data suggests that the cloud deployment process starts with the business requirement, and moves back to the deployment model — rather than starting with a platform, and expanding across incremental workloads,” the study said.

As you might expect, smaller customers look to the cloud to help with backup, continuity and disaster recovery, while midsize customers view access to scalable compute and storage resources are “a key cloud success attribute.”

One disturbing note that turned up in the survey of SMB customers: “A troublingly-substantial proportion” of SMB customers either do not know who is responsible for key security practices or believe that the requirements do not apply to them. As a result, a sizable number of SMB customers demonstrate “an over-reliance on cloud suppliers.”

Ironically, one of the impediments to additional cloud adoption identified in the study was “security.” But, the study noted, BDMs can be persuaded that “cloud contributes to better security.”

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