As part of a series of interviews I did looking back at 2012 and ahead at 2013 and beyond, I had a chance to sit down with Ed Abrams, IBM's VP of marketing and strategy for SMB. Ed and I spoke about what IBM's 2012 Tech Trends Report shows. Our full conversation (about 18 minutes long) is available to listen to below.
For me there were several highlights in my conversation with Ed and the trends shown in the report. Perhaps the biggest was the findings that at least for the midmarket and SMB space, security is no longer a significant deterrent in moving to the cloud. For almost as long as we have heard about the cloud, we have heard that security is the single biggest factor that is preventing companies from moving to the cloud. The "cloud bogeyman" as I have called it, to me at least was always more FUD then truth. The fact is most cloud providers have better security then many organizations; especially better than midmarket and SMBs can afford to implement themselves. The fact that security is no longer a significant barrier is welcome news. I am not sure if it is because people realized that security in the cloud is not that bad or if people just don't care though. In any event I was glad to hear of these findings from Abrams.
Another trend that IBM found was that midmarket and SMBs are planning on moving mission critical applications to the cloud this year. Several reports last year showed that while many organizations were experimenting with the cloud, for the most part they were doing development projects in the cloud, but were not migrating mission critical functions and applications to the cloud. Abrams says that the IBM research shows this is changing. Companies are now moving more and more of their entire IT functionality to the cloud. This includes their mission critical functions. Ed says that we are going to see this trend accelerate.
I asked Abrams how midmarket and SMBs would master the skills and resources necessary to accomplish this. Abrams gave me a one word answer, MSPs. IBM believes that managed service providers will be the key to moving to the cloud. Many organizations are never going to internally have the resources to manage their IT in the cloud or on premises. It is an MSP future according to Abrams and IBM. As such IBM is investing heavily in both their own MSP business, as well as IBM business partners who offer MSP services.
I asked Abrams if the cloud would really save money for organizations using it. Ed said that IBM's research showed that utilizing the cloud could save organizations from 25% to 30% or more. I have heard from others that utilizing the cloud and MSPs would actually not necessarily be any cheaper than doing it yourself, on premises. Ed was very clear that IBM's research showed exactly the opposite.
Finally Abrams mentioned that by moving to the cloud, Big Data analytics will have a huge impact on the SMB and midmarket in 2013 and beyond. Abrams says that IBM's Big Data analytics, as well as their cloud portfolio leverage open source technologies throughout. Harnessing big data to give companies greater insight into their business will of course be valuable. I just don't know if it will really come to the midmarket quite yet.
Ed Abrams has more to say about IBM's research and what it means for the midmarket. Have a listen to our conversation to hear more and download the trends report for yourself.