Cloud technologies offer today’s SMB crucial opportunities to scale and grow ahead of the competition and have become critical in today’s environment. The Odin 2015 Global SMB Cloud Insights report confirms that SMBs from a variety of sectors are embracing technology by moving business functions into the cloud.
The business applications market valued at $24.2B in 2015 is forecasted to reach $48.3B by 2018. Business applications such as IaaS, web presence and web applications, unified communications are becoming more common and useful to SMBs due to their low initial costs and ability to scale.
Our Odin SMB Cloud Insights research also shows that some SMBs are unclear which IT services and applications would best serve their business. Instead, they might receive advice from a colleague or other trusted advisors. Maybe a legacy system is in need of a fix so they search the internet or hire a local IT professional for a solution.
However, the combination of uncertainty and individuals adding different cloud services means your cloud may quickly grow out of control if not managed. An out of control cloud can spread like wildfire as cloud programs spread out across a business, and can be a big headache for IT. For instance, an IT department may have signed up to one content relationship management program, while an executive signed up to another. Both are being utilized, but not in any coordinated fashion.
One way to avoid this situation is to ensure the various cloud applications are coordinated and held to similar security and integrity standards, especially as the business’s infrastructure continues to grow. This is where a service provider can help by guiding their SMB customers in understanding the risks of cloud sprawl. They can also use their market insight and trusted relationship to provide a more unified experience by crafting offers that fulfill their customers’ needs above and beyond what the customer is asking for. This could look like a bundle of broadband, business voice, and productivity apps that scales per user and is billed by the seat – one that lessens cloud growing pains, while still allowing the SMB to increase revenue and productivity.
Managing cloud instances, so as to avoid cloud sprawl and the costs associated with cloud misuse, is a sought after IT goal. It requires the combination of best-in-breed technologies and services to enable provisioning, billing automation, and enabling the monetization of many disparate services. While some of these services are core to the service provider, others can be syndicated from a third-party and may reside in either the service provider’s or a third-party’s data center (e.g., Microsoft Office 365).
Service providers can help overcome some of the hurdles associated with taming cloud sprawl. They can do this by not only enabling and automating solutions from channel-friendly partners while continuing to participate in the bigger IT market with their own services or value-adds, but also utilizing automation and management tools that:
- Provide a single point of reference for managing and automating internal activities like cloud provisioning, monitoring, and billing users and services to keep everything in one place for auditing.
- Centralize control via one central unified control panel for access to multiple cloud providers and geographies. Enabling IT to deploy applications across multiple clouds used within their business, while seeing what cloud services are being used and by how much.
- Streamline processes and efficiency to create scale by providing cloud enablement for a broad range of services and cloud-ready applications. The ability to offer and manage these side-by-side across a wide range of cloud management platforms and virtualization technologies enables IT to quickly expand service offerings, scale capacity, replace legacy systems that are inhibiting growth, and serve more customers regardless of their technology preferences.
- Aggregate and organize the appropriate services and functions enabled for each user type and their use cases. The ability to set different levels of permission enables IT admins to manage users and application subscriptions to prevent unregulated access and usage. Avoiding the issues associated with having multiple versions of similar applications purchased and used, but not in any coordinated fashion.
The need to manage the cloud and avoid an increasing sprawl of disconnected services has never been greater. Service providers can be a trusted advisor, simplifying the complexity of the cloud as SMBs move to an even bigger cloud model, by not only providing the best-in-breed cloud services and bundles, but the tools to transform cloud computing utilization and management.