This week, a number of companies have started taking the SMB cloud market seriously, with Parallels launching an aggressive campaign to corner a market that will be worth US$ 50 billion, KnowlegeTree offering Outlook access in the cloud and Motive expanding its partner channel with US Analytics. Twitter also appears to be doing better in this space, but not as well as Facebook.
Parallels Targets Cloud Market
Announcing the new campaign, recently appointed CEO Birge Steen said he will focus on expanding their cloud offerings for the SMB market and, presumably, the marketing initiative to go with with it.
By 2015, it is estimated that the cloud market for SMBs will be worth in the region of US$ 50 billion up from around US$ 10.6 billion in 2010 and US$ 28.6 billion this year, of which nearly half will be infrastructure services.
In terms of spending, it has also been estimated, in a report released at the Parallels conference in Orlando recently, that companies with fewer than 100 employees make up about 80% of the spending on cloud deployments and services at the moment, making the move to get a jump on that market a smart move indeed.
Currently, while there has been a marked interest in the cloud in the SMB space, most of the big -- and we really mean big -- companies such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft have been slow in recognizing the potential here, even though they have developed many products for SMBs.
Among the new offerings designed to attract SMBs, Parallels has released Parallels Automation for Cloud Infrastructure to help service providers extend their offerings to SMBs and become more profitable, said Steen.
They will also be offering to carry Microsoft Online services as they stand now and Office 365 when it is finally released later this year.
KnowledgeTree Offers Cloud-based Outlook
And speaking of cloud-based solutions, KnowledgeTree (news, site), which already provides document management software to SMBs in the cloud, has announced the beta release of KnowledgeTree for Outlook, which will also be in the cloud.
This will enable users to store email and attachments in KnowledgeTree’s document vault, as well as gain access to content already stored in the KnowledgeTree content repository from their Outlook account.
This should be a welcome addition to its existing cloud-based Office products, which were only released at the end of last year, and which enable editing and collaboration on documents in the cloud and in Excel, Word and PowerPoint files.
Twitter Doing Better with SMBs
Leaving the cloud aside, it seems that there is more research that shows SMBs are taking to Twitter. According to the latest Local Commerce Monitor-Wave 14 report from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, between Q3 in 2009 and Q4 in 2010, usage has more than doubled to 19%.
While Twitter will undoubtedly be happy about that, it still leaves a large market to be desired and exploited, as almost half of SMBs have made the social media jump, with 48% of them now using Facebook, and a quarter using some other social media network.
Over a third also regularly use links and advertisement on social media sites with nearly half of the survey group planning to increase their spending in this space over the next 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, it seems that young companies are the most avid users of social media, with businesses that were less than seven years old more likely to use social media than the Yellow Pages, for example, that is used by older and more traditional companies.
Motive Expands SMB Channel
Another new addition for Motive Systems (news, site), which has been plowing the SMB furrow very deep, is the integration of business intelligence company US Analytics to M-File Cloud Vault, a cheap and easy-to use cloud-based document management system that has been expanding in both the US and Europe.
US Analytics provides enterprise performance management and business intelligence consulting to companies, and by adding Cloud Vault they get to offer document management to their customers as well.
For Motive, the advantages are obvious for a company that has only moved into the US in the last 18 months, but which has -- the company says -- expanded its presence in the SMB market rapidly.
This is only the most recent move in Motive’s expansion of its partner channel, but we expect to see a lot more of this over the coming months as Motive pushes onwards with its US plans.
ShareFile Offers Enterprise-Level File Sharing
Finally, with its user base currently exceeding two million, ShareFile, which provides file sharing by services to SMBs, has announced the release of Enterprise Sync, an extension of its business-centric synchronization tool that offers SMBs server-based capabilities including scheduling and reporting.
Such capabilities help to free IT resources and allow them to focus on more critical functions required by the business. Powered by the same core technology as ShareFile Desktop Sync, Enterprise Sync not only provides companies with the ability to continuously synchronize files and folders, it also offers granular scheduling, tracking, logging and notification options that are more suited to enterprises' complex file/folder infrastructure.
Enterprise Sync supports Windows, Mac and Linux and is available for ShareFile Enterprise and Enterprise Gold customers.