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Maximizing the value of cloud for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

I was recently on a business trip in Raleigh, US, attending the IBM Redbooks cloud residency that I had been looking forward to for several months.  Just before I was starting my trip from India for the residency, I was checking with my kids about what gifts they want from the US. My elder son, who is 9 years old, wanted me to get him a “Spiderman Watch.”  The younger one who was listening to this, thought for a second and said “Dad, I need a remote controlled helicopter.”  I often wondered whether the demands from the younger children were more difficult to meet compared to the older ones.

This difference is quite similar to the trends that I see with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their adoption of cloud technologies. When some of the large customers are still in the evaluation mode with cloud, there are many small businesses that have gone ahead and built their offices on the cloud.

But there are still many SMEs that are asking how adoption of cloud computing can help them grow revenue, reduce long-term IT cost, attract new customers, improve cash flow, maintain profitability, and most important, react to ever-changing market conditions.

I found a strong need to provide some sort of guidance to the SMEs about how to take their first steps on cloud. In this regard, I worked with many others in The Open Group to create a guide that answers cloud FAQs for SMEs.

The guide, Maximizing the Value of Cloud for Small-Medium Enterprises, comprehensively covers several queries and has the following chapters about

  • Key SME characteristics (business and IT)
  • Cloud adoption benefits for the SME and business cases
  • Applicable workloads for cloud; workload analysis for SMEs
  • Existing cloud offerings geared toward the SME and sourcing models
  • Cloud integration considerations for the SME

I was thrilled when I was able to participate in the IBM #cloudchat on the same subject. In fact there were more questions and concerns coming in that were answered by expert panelists. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the #cloudchat and didn’t realize how fast the hour went. At the end of the hour we did have good insight and answers to several questions, such as:

  • What should SMEs consider when adopting cloud & how is this different from larger enterprises?
  • What SME pain points does the cloud alleviate?
  • How are SMEs using cloud to create new business models and capture opportunities in growth markets?
  •  How do SMEs find the right cloud provider? What questions should they ask?
  • How do service providers, ISVs, and channel partners help with the decision process?
  • Can you share tips or lessons learned regarding cloud application integration?

With a promise of every possible IT resource being offered “as a service” coupled with incentives such as lower cost and service-level guarantees, and definite guidance, SMEs have started to embrace cloud. This information is not only helping them meet their service requirements but allowing them to take a leap in the use of cutting-edge technologies to do business innovation.

I wish I had a cloud that could have provided the Spider Man watches and the remote-controlled helicopters for my return home.

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