SMBs warming up to cloud services

February 16th, 2012 | by Aaron Tan

The market for cloud computing services among small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) is expected to swell to US$68 billion by 2014, a new study has found.

According to Parallels’ SMB Cloud Insights report, SMBs will continue to lead the cloud computing wave, with small businesses three times more likely than large enterprises to choose cloud services over on-premise software.

SMBs surveyed in the study also plan to double the number of cloud applications they purchase over the next three years.

The new study, which details hosting, cloud services and applications that appeal to SMBs, follows similar surveys conducted in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Japan and Australia.

For example, smaller companies are likely to buy applications such as back-up, file sharing, accounting and e-mail archiving, while medium-sized ones are keen on phone conferencing services.

SMBs are jumping on the social media bandwagon, too, with 45 per cent of SMBs in the United States reportedly using Facebook to promote their business.

“Parallels SMB Cloud Insights research continues to confirm that SMBs are at the forefront of cloud adoption,” said company CEO Birger Steen during the annual Parallels Summit in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday.

The three-day event is attended by 1,500 hosting partners, software vendors, analysts and media.

Besides releasing its latest SMB Cloud Insights report, Parallels showed off a slew of enhancements to its Plesk web hosting control panel. It also showcased a communications package that lets hosted and cloud service providers offer telephony services.

Parallels Plesk
Designed for next-generation hosting and cloud environments, Parallels Plesk Panel 11 includes advanced features such as mobile management client for hosting service providers, whose customers who can now access the Plesk panel through BlackBerry, Android and iPhone apps.

The software is expected to help hosting companies maximise revenue through built-in business intelligence and active monitoring, as well as suggest upsell paths for end users.

It will also integrate Microsoft Web Matrix, business metrics, WebStat and SEO indicators to help SMBs maximise their web presence and social media effectiveness.

According to IDC, Parallels Plesk currently commands 50 per cent of the web hosting control panel market.

In addition, Parallels also introduced Parallels Plesk Automation Preview, a multi-server automation software for hosting companies that are using Parallels Plesk Panel. With the software, web hosting companies can centrally manage their customers and servers, and seamlessly launch a wide range of new services.

Parallels Automation for Hosted PBX
With Parallels Automation for Hosted PBX, service providers can now provide SMBs with enterprise communications services,  whether they are replacing legacy PBX systems or moving to their first PBX service.

Partners can integrate with their own BroadSoft Broadworks telephony application, or use wholesale services provided by Apptix, Alteva and Sipcom.

Parallels Automation partners can also choose to base their hosted PBX services on APS (Application Packaging Standard)-certified software from Infratel, and Solgari.

APS is an open format that lets hosting companies package software as services that can be delivered over the cloud, complete with billing and support services.  Other APS certified applications include Google Apps, WordPress and Joomla.

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