Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.

It seems like the in the last few years, every single service provider has been scratching their head and thinking “how do we sell to the SMBs?”. I’m not talking just cloud providers, but most businesses in general. Part of it is that in Canada, while there are some significantly large enterprises, the majority of organizations fit into the traditional SMB definition. But the question is, will cloud help us finally get enterprise-class solutions to those customers?

I read an interesting survey that was done in the UK by the DR folks Acronis. They surveyed IT Managers at 6,000 SMBs in 18 countries for their Global Disaster Recovery Index 2012, and asked them about virtualization and cloud adoption. While most stats apply to the UK, we can still apply the basic guidelines from this survey to Canada, since we tend to have similar regulations and conservative views when adopting technologies.

The study basically stated that SMBs around the world are planning to adopt server virtualization in 2012 at a faster pace than large enterprises, with roughly 29% of their servers virtualized by the end of the year. In the UK, it’s predicted to increase 63% with VMs accounting for 31% of SMB servers by the end of 2012.

These are staggering numbers when you think that most organizations in Canada fall into the SMB category. It’s no surprise that there are huge benefits to SMB adoption of cloud (I wrote a whitepaper about this specific topic which can be found under Articles & Whitepapers), but there are additional benefits that the survey alludes to as it relates to backup and disaster recovery.
The survey highlights that many SMBs admit that they don’t back up their VMs as often as their physical machines (the UK is specifically called out with 60% of them admitting to this). This is most likely because while they adopted virtualization to save costs, they don’t have the in-house expertise to manage it the way it should be. This is a great testimony to the benefit of outsourcing data replication services to cloud providers, considering that protecting data is so important to not just compliance, but to the future of business operations. It’s just a matter of time before the VMs go down and cannot be restored if you aren’t managing them properly.

The funny thing about all this is that one of the key barriers to adoption for cloud services such as IaaS is due to concerns about data recovery, non compliance with data protection, bottlenecks in bandwidth and workload complexity. But all these are easy fixes with cloud services. Data replication services are easy add-ons for IaaS services, and most service providers offer network services such as WAN optimization. Additionally, there is a good chance that the service provider offers higher-level security controls (including compliance-based environments) than an SMB environment may provide.

What the survey really points to is that there is a lack of education about cloud services to the SMB market. It’s absolutely a fault of the service providers and vendors that we just haven’t told the right story to the right audience. Enterprises are always the favored go-to-market for services, they’re viewed as the ones with the capital, so they are the ones we build the relationships with. Cloud is an accessible service, we need to use that fact as a way to have the conversations with the most important (and largest) market in Canada, the SMB market. The first provider to successfully do that will be the one that sets the landscape, unfortunately, we just haven’t done that yet.

For more information on the survey visit eu.acronisinfo.com

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