A report into cloud services by hosting and services provider Parallels has today suggested that the UK SMB cloud services market opportunity could now be worth up to £660m, with up to 62% of businesses planning to switch to hosted servers.
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The SMB Cloud Insights survey concluded that the channel should focus on delivering profitable, value-added services that go above and betond basic hosting, such as web and social media presence apps, content management and CRM tools, backed up by cloud-based services such as hosted comms, backup and storage, among other things.
"The migration to cloud services continues to have a major impact on how small and medium businesses acquire and manage their IT services," said John Zanni, vice president of service provider marketing and alliances at Parallels.
"The challenge to service providers is to recognise that not all SMBs have the same priorities, so a tailored approach to delivering hosted services will need to be taken into consideration," he added.
The report revealed that 20% of firms with under 10 employees currently used in-house servers, and of those 42% planned to switch to hosted servers by 2015. Among firms with 10 to 49 seats, 50% ran their servers in-house and 62% were planning to switch.
Half of UK SMBs said they still designed their websites internally, and 28% said they were actively using Facebook for business purposes, opening up further channel opportunities around web design and e-commerce services.
The report's findings lend extra weight to talk around SMB cloud investment at VMware's VMworld show in Copenhagen last week.
VMware northern EMEA vice president Matt Piercey told MicroScope that resellers would benefit from a "driving need to talk to an expert" about transitioning to cloud.
Speaking at the show, Canalys analyst Alastair Edwards said that the next steps towards cloud still remained unclear for some channel players.
"Does cloud threaten the channel? No, its fundamental role remains the same, but a lot of companies will go out of business because they are taking an unsustainable approach to cloud," said Edwards.
The development of large scale public clouds, he argued, could leave those that weren't financially secure facing ruin, with Canalys suggesting that private clouds will be the better opportunity, because they will drive development of new skills within the reseller community, said Edwards.
Canalys data suggests that the private cloud market will be worth well over $123bn by 2015, whilst public cloud sales will be worth around $75bn. Furthermore, added Edwards, analysts now believe that the public cloud market is at far greater risk of commoditisation.