What is the midmarket looking for when looking at cloud computing?
I recently attended a Cloud Forum sponsored by IBM that focused on the needs of the midmarket, what companies were likely to do and tried to look five years into the future. IBM gathered together an impressive group of made up of members of the analyst, journalist and developer communities. A few executives of midmarket companies were also attending. All-in-all, it was a fantastic exchange of views.
One of the segments focused on what midmaket companies were hoping to find when looking at cloud computing products and service. Although the conversation moved back and forth across the room very rapidly, I'll do my best to summarize the key points.
Midmarket companies often have neither the resource nor the staff to construct their own complete solutions even though they have similar operational issues as the largest of companies. They are seeking complete solutions that address their own unique operational needs rather than having to find and integrate services from many suppliers.
Furthermore, midmarket companies need to be able to use data created using one cloud computing service in other services they may choose to purchase. Clever software lock-ins created by proprietary data formats are not acceptable to them.
Velocity of services
Midmarket companies, like their larger relatives, are looking to cloud computing to not only improve their time to value. That is, they expect using cloud computing will accelerate the time from initial idea to functioning system that is helping them increase revenues, decrease costs or both.
One attendee of the event suggested that cost of capital wasn't as important as being able to increase revenues fast enough to submerge costs of the cloud computing solution. This, he pointed out, was different than the current model which requires midmarket companies to have the cash needed to purchase hardware, software and data center real estate as well as find and hier staff having the necessary expertise.
Remove barriers to entry
Midmarket companies are seeking ways to avoid barriers to market entry presented by their local conditions. This can include finding ways to reduce costs to levels that they can manage, address data localization requirements and being able to have the tools needed to address local financial and business audits.
Midmarket companies don't have to walk this path alone
As I was thinking about the conversation at the event, it became clear that making the proper selections of tools and services could turn into a difficult and confusing journey. SMB decision makers need not face this journey all by themselves. There are are many partners that have the knowledge, expertise and possibly, even the services needed to help them on their way.
Suppliers, such as IBM, HP, Dell and others, have years of experience with these new approaches and are quite willing to help. In IBM's case, it also owns SoftLayer which can be a very useful platform for midmarket workloads.