SMBs See Opportunity In The Cloud - InformationWeek
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SMBs See Opportunity In The Cloud

A Microsoft survey found that almost a third of small and midsize businesses see the cloud as an opportunity for their IT to be more strategic and nearly a quarter believe it offers capabilities not previously available.

Analytics Slideshow Calculating Cloud ROI
Analytics Slideshow Calculating Cloud ROI
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Small and midsize businesses are turning to cloud services and benefitting from the move.

The Microsoft-sponsored survey, "Cloud Computing as an Engine of Growth," polled SMBs about the cloud and found that "26% see the cloud as a technology revolution. 29% see it as an opportunity for their IT to be more strategic. 29% feel that companies who embrace the cloud are innovative. And 24% agree that the cloud provides capabilities not previously available, for example, letting them take advantage of enterprise-type capabilities that were not previously available to the SMB," according to Josh Waldo, director of SMB marketing at Microsoft.

"We found that 12% of SMBs use cloud services to start a new business," said Waldo. "'Born in the cloud' means the primary capability for their business is through cloud technology as the leading thing that enables them to do it."

"One important challenge in terms of using cloud services is getting companies to be comfortable with them -- and integration is a big part of that," said Waldo. "Most companies have existing investments in software. It's important for new things -- like cloud services -- to integrate with what you've got already on servers and laptops and other machines. You need to be able to integrate these with whatever cloud or web service you're going to buy."

According to the survey, said Waldo, "36% of SMBs would be encouraged to buy into cloud services because it integrates with existing technology, and 27% of SMBs bought into cloud services because it integrates with existing technology they had."

According to Microsoft, the goal of the survey, conducted in October with more than 1,000 small and midsize businesses with 1 to 249 employees, was "to better understand IT decision-makers and their current and planned adoptions of cloud-based technology solutions to grow revenue, launch new lines of business, hire staff, and innovate."

Microsoft's own forays into providing cloud services for businesses include its Windows Azure cloud computing platform, and Office 365, an online collaborative offering announced in October, which combines Office Online Web apps with SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online. Office 365 replaces Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Microsoft Office Live Small Business, and Live@edu offerings.

Waldo said, "We see customers in the process of taking advantage of the cloud." Because many of today's cloud offerings are more affordable and scalable than previous hosted and managed services, "We've seen a lot of customers consume IT services they didn't before," said Waldo.

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