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SMB IT Spending Patterns to Rise In 2012 Along With Expectations
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In this article, posted on Midsize Insider, Doug Bonerud, captures some of the coming trends in small & medium business (SMB) IT spending for the year ahead. Its widely accepted that 2012 will see ever rising adoption rates of cloud computing in the market and continued growth in the number of providers within the marketplace. What is interesting to read, however, is that SMB’s appear to be becoming increasingly discerning when selecting their cloud provider. What SMB's are now looking for in a cloud provider is enterprise level service that is both affordable and agile.
I’d encourage all organisations when considering who will provide their virtualisation or cloud services in the year ahead to implement the guidance offered in the article: be picky, be productive and expect the best. Below is the original blog post from Doug as it appeared here.
One of the surest signs of cloud computing's advancement is the number of service providers now in the market. Diversification means the technology is accessible enough that start-ups across the US are dipping their toes in virtual water, in turn giving small and midsize business (SMB) IT more choice when it comes to who will provide their virtualization or cloud services. Recent data indicates that not only will SMB IT spending in the cloud continue through 2012, but that IT admins will ask tougher questions of providers.
What's Coming This Year
No, not the Amiga 1000--but IT spending is on the rise. As discussed in an MSPMentor article, research firm IDC's recent webinar highlighted several trends for IT spending in both small and medium-sized business through 2012. Predictions are for spending to increase approximately 6 percent, from $144 billion to $150 billion. There is also an expectation that small businesses (those with less than 500 employees) will spend more than their midsize counterparts. Cloud computing is also becoming more prevalent, with adoption of some form of cloud service predicted for at least 50 percent of all midsize businesses, and 33 percent among small businesses.
For SMB IT, it's worth noting that the webinar looks at solution viability and productivity as primary factors this year, rather than price. Expect to see an increase in agility and functionality of mission-critical apps from smaller providers to leverage this trend. IT professionals should find greater depth of services in 2012, allowing them to be choosy in who manages their cloud provision.
Be Picky, Be Productive
No matter the type of service being offered or how agile it purports to make a cloud or virtual server, all SMB IT managers are well-served by being picky when choosing a service provider. According to a recent InformationWeek article, there are several things IT pros should demand from any provider before signing a contract.
First, SMB IT managers should look for buzzwords like "low-cost" or "budget-friendly." These sound great and look snazzy on paper, but mean little without real numbers; any worthwhile provider should give a clear figure without all the adjectives. It's also important to make sure that contract terms make sense to both parties--they need to pass legal muster and they should be easily understood. Contracts should clear detail regarding the agreement's duration, service provisions, and what the provider will do if they somehow cause a catastrophic failure. If anything is unclear, SMBs should always ask--the virtual devil is in the details. Last but absolutely not least, make sure both parties understand what will happen when the agreement terminates, whether on time or prematurely. SMB admins need to know how their data will be returned and what will happen to any data held by the provider. If a cloud service provider won't answer these kinds of questions, they probably aren't a good match.
Expect the Best
There's little doubt that SMB spending on IT is only going up in 2012, albeit at a slower rate than in recent years. Still, the increase in both spending and cloud adoption marks the perfect opportunity for IT admins to find a provider that is both affordable and agile. For SMB admins, the key is to have high expectations; cloud and virtual technology have been on the market long enough for IT to expect that providers will offer concrete pricing and straightforward contracts and be clear about what happens to customer data.