A sure sign of the tough times we’re living in at the moment is the number of companies that are starting to offer SaaS, including solutions for security, data backup and analytics. The last week has seen a lot of activity on this front in the SMB sector.

Is There Security In The Cloud?

Global internet security firm Trend Micro is offering a new hosted security solution for small business users that will eliminate the need for constant server-management and security updates, offering protection not just to site-based workers, but also to those that are on the road.

The new solution, called Worry-Free Business Security Services, ensures computers and laptops coming in and out of a network are fully protected and comes with added extra protection against Internet threats for mobile and telecommuting workers.

It uses a number of patent-pending technologies including cloud-based technologies with lighter-weight, client-based methods to ensure small businesses have access to the latest and strongest protection wherever and however they connect.

You may recall the recent Forrester report which showed that one of the principal concerns SMBs have in regards to hosted solutions is security and the associated costs. It may be that the answer to their concerns about “the cloud” actually resides in the cloud itself with solutions like this providing protection at relatively low costs.

Per user pricing varies by seat count and price decreases with volume. Pricing starts at US $31.48 per user for a 1-year subscription for companies with 2-25 machines.,

Carbonite Offers Backup For SMBs

If you’re still not sure about storage, or using the cloud, then you might want to take a look at Carbonite, a US-based specialist, which has just launched a new online back-up service for SMBs. Carbonite Pro is an online backup service that ensures that if your computer files are lost or stolen, you can get them back.

At the heart of the Carbonite Pro system is a web-based dashboard that makes managing the system extremely easy. And it lets you see important information like the backup status of every computer, how much data is backed up and which users are not backed up.

Users can let the software automatically back up files or manually choose what gets backed up. When disaster strikes and files are lost or damaged, the Restore Wizard guides users step-by-step to recover them. Plus, you can still use your computers during recovery.

However, it is the ‘Lite’ fees that Carbonite is really pushing. They range from US$ 10 per month up to 20GB to US$ 250 for 300 -- 500 GB/ month. If you’re beyond that you’re probably not really a SMB and should be looking at other options.

SaaS 'will help Britain out of recession'

We’ve heard a lot of claims about Software as a Service (SaaS) in recent times, some of them good, some bad and some just plain goofy. Here’s one we haven’t heard before -- apparently using SaaS is going to pull the UK out of recession.

SMBs will be doing "the lion's share" of job creation as the UK moves out of the economic downturn. With considerable overheads already associated with business creation, SaaS is the only way small businesses will be able to afford a proper IT structure.

At least that’s what Outsourcery, a business communications and hosted IT provider based in the UK is saying. Piers Linney, joint chief executive with the company say cheap services keeps companies going.

Technology such as cloud computing is providing help to many by doing away with thousands of pounds of costly IT investment in favor of pay-as-you go IT delivered over the cloud for as little as £6 a month, enabling many SMBs to continue trading in these tough times."

This is backed up by a recent study of the UK by cloud provider ThinkGrid that found that SaaS solutions were increasingly being adopted by smaller firms in the UK as their apprehensions about the service waned in the face of support from large corporations such as Google and Amazon.

Keynote Launches SaaS Analytics

Keynote Systems has just announced the release of Keynote Visitor Insights, an on-demand service for SMBs that enables real-time monitoring of website visitor feedback and interactions.

A specialist in analytics, Keynote provides on-demand mobile and Internet test and measurement solutions for companies looking to improve the online experience for clients. Their SaaS service collects customer feedback and behavior and turns it into business intelligence that can be readily used by marketing and website development teams.

The company says, however, that its SaaS solution is more than just analytics. It captures transactions and visitor behavior combining the two for analysis, "providing individual visitor's demographics, attitudes and online behavior and insight on how one affects the other and how the relationship changes during the transaction."

Keynote also says it requires no site instrumentation, and visitors are presented with an invitation to participate before any information is taken and saved.

Under-appreciated Social Tools

A new survey from AIIM (news, site) shows that the public social tools regarded as most useful to achieving organizational objectives are LinkedIn (54.2% of those using describing it as "very useful" or "critical"), Twitter (39.8%) and LinkedIn groups (36.9%).

However, according to John Mancini, president of AIIM, there is a whole list of under appreciated tools that are very effective but not really given the time of day. Amongst these are InformationZen and Slideshare.

The survey of 322 SMBs and enterprises showed that 29% of Zen users describe it as "very useful" or "critical", while 28.6% of Slideshare users said the same about it. The problem is that these tools are only used by about 30% of the participants in the survey.

The Zen result highlights a particular challenge for many "specialist" social sites. Once someone is there, they tend to value the experience. But getting a critical mass of participation in niche groups is a challenge, Mancini says.

If you’re interested in more check it out in Mancini’s blog Digital Landfill.