The findings show an increasing opportunity for hosting service providers to profit in the Cloud from offering services such as collaboration, data storage and back-up, or business-class e-mail. Some key findings include the following:
"Cloud adoption will be gradual, and SMEs will continue to operate in a hybrid model with an increasing blend between off-premises and traditional on-premises infrastructure, for the foreseeable future", stated Marco Limena, vice president, Business Channels, Worldwide Communications Sector at Microsoft. "As Cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous and SMEs' existing IT becomes outdated, adoption will grow rapidly. Hosting service providers should consider the appropriate sales, delivery and support models to target larger SMB customers that are more likely to pay for Cloud services."
Recognizing that SMBs consume software in a variety of ways, Microsoft offers a range of options for hosting providers to go to market with new services targeting the SME market.
"As SMEs continue to transition to Cloud services, hosting service providers, VARs and SIs will have a major role to play as advisors and providers of IT services in hybrid environments", stated Andy Burton, CEO, Fasthosts Internet Ltd. "Hosting providers have expertise in selling Cloud services while VARs and SIs have experience selling to SMEs. Fasthosts is helping to bridge this gap by helping VARs and SIs white-label cloud services and deliver them as if they were their own."
The 2011 study indicates that in most countries, Cloud service adoption is not limited to SMEs that see themselves as fast growers. The study showed little difference in adoption rates between SMEs that expect to grow in the next three years (42 percent) and those solely focused on profitability (40 percent).
Growth companies want a scalable environment that can meet their expanding needs, with an affordable, pay-as-you-go pricing model that eliminates the need for over-investment in IT. SMBs that want to maintain their size, but want to become more profitable, seek cost-effective, efficient solutions that match their needs for predictability and low overhead cost. Cloud services can serve both sets of criteria.
The study also looked at adoption of software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and found that SMEs that are adopting both SaaS and IaaS services are larger, more growth-oriented and more interested in additional services, such as unified communications and remote desktop support. This provides an opportunity for hosting service providers to offer both SaaS and IaaS in order to acquire and retain high-value customers and maximize revenue per customer.