A lot has been said over recent months as to whether SMBs are taking to cloud computing or not. Whether they like it or not though, it seems both Microsoft and IBM are going to take them there anyway. There is also much still to be said about SMBs and SharePoint 2010.

Microsoft Is Interested In SMBs

You might think that after Microsoft (news, site) decided to shelve its Enterprise Business Server (EBS) it had lost interest in SMBS. Well that’s not the case according to a recent interview with Briger Steen, Microsoft’s VP for SMBs.

In fact, he identifies the SMB sector as one of the great, unexploited areas of cloud computing in the market at the moment, and one that they are looking to call their own.

Steen estimates that there are up to 150 million SMBs across the world -- and by that he means companies with up to 500 employees -- only 10% of whom use nothing except very basic IT  despite the advantages that the cloud can offer.

"A lot of these businesses really are under-served," says Steen who adds that SMBs are looking for less cost and easy-to-maintain options. "We want to bring [Microsoft software] to them in an affordable way by using cloud computing."

Typically he said, SMBs have had to settle for stripped-down versions of enterprise software from the large vendors, or software from lesser-known smaller providers that can be more troublesome to use than cloud-based full scale software.

And Microsoft is out to trap that market by increasing their cloud offerings. Steiner says in the interview with Computer World that they aim to offer a cloud component to every product on offer.

IBM Points SMBs To The Clouds Too

And if you think Microsoft is the only one interested in SMBs then think again. IBM (news, site) has just announced that its newly created IBM Global Entrepreneur initiative will provide start-ups with no-charge access to industry-specific technologies in a cloud computing environment.

With the new program, IBM will provide access to its research community as well as sales, marketing and technical skills.

The new initiative entitled IBM Global Entrepreneur means start-ups can:

  • Use IBM software in a cloud environment
  • Use IBM project managers for product development
  • Attend IBM SmartCamp mentoring and networking workshops
  • Connect with other companies in the program through a social networking community

Two things here are striking. The first is that this is a cloud-focused program and, secondly it’s targeting SMBs -- actually very small businesses in that only companies that are privately owned and less than three years old need apply.

Sounds a lot like Microsoft’s strategy. Interesting -- and profitable -- times ahead for the SMB sector as the two heavy-weights slug it out for this very lucrative prize.

Is SharePoint 2010 For SMBs?

For SMBs wondering whether SharePoint 2010 (news, site) is for them, Forrester’s (news, site) Rob Koplowitz, in a podcast with SearchCIO-Midmarket.com site editor Kristen Caretta, says that while it will offer enhanced social networking and improved search and application features, it just might be too much to handle.

The podcast outlines what features might work well for SMBs and what ones won’t as well as addressing the on-premise vs online deployment debate.

He also asks whether it is worthwhile to jump straight into the SharePoint 2010 cauldron if you aren’t already using it, and if you decide to go ahead anyway what the barriers to deployment are going to be.

Before making the jump you might check it out as it could end up saving you a lot of grief in the future, particularly in June when SharePoint 2010 is due to be released generally.

All-In-One Access CRM Licenses

Everyone is trying to do more with less at the moment. Maximizer, which provides CRM and mobile CRM solutions, with the release of its CRM 11, is offering an all inclusive, all access license that covers mobile, web and desktop CRM options specifically for SMBs.

Maximizer CRM 11 now supports Firefox which the company says broadens its web access footprint beyond Microsoft Windows (to include both Apple and Linux platform users).

Additionally, full marketing campaign support via web access now enables marketing staff to send e-mail campaigns and track and report on results from anywhere. Action plan creation and access to the document library are also included in web access.

The CRM has all the features contained in standard CRM packages, while the mobile version is delivered via BlackBerry and gives users access to any information contained in the enterprise CRM in real-time.

Top Ten BPM Technologies

If you’re wondering what software the company down the hall is using to make it work, Gartner (news, site) may be able to shed some light on it, at least in business process management terms.

According to a recent posting on the Gartner Network blog, SMBs and other enterprises are still trying to identify what BPM systems are most used across industry.

Just in case you’re wondering, here they are in no particular order:

  1. Business process analysis (BPA)
  2. Automated business process discovery (ABPD)
  3. Business activity monitoring (BAM) and business intelligence (BI)
  4. Workflow
  5. Business rule management systems (BRMSs)
  6. Complex-event processing (CEP)
  7. Optimization/simulation
  8. PM suites (BPMSs)
  9. Application integration
  10. Service-oriented architecture (SOA)

Now you know!