SMBs may lack the internal resources their larger competitors can afford, but in the Darwinian world of business, this does not exempt them from having to compete with bigger companies. Especially in this age of constant buyouts and mergers, SMBs often find themselves having to stay competitive with much larger and wealthier rivals (or divisions of much larger and wealthier rivals), regardless of how specialized their vertical may be. MSPs serving an SMB clientele can use cloud services to provide small businesses with the enterprise-class services they need to survive in an increasingly hostile business environment.
Andy Jaquith, a former Forrester analyst who is now CTO at Perimeter E-Security, a provider of hosted cloud-based security solutions for mid-market customers, recently took time to discuss exactly how MSPs can take advantage of cloud convenience and value to offer SMBs a wider range of applications with deeper enterprise functionality than the SMB sector has typically used in the past. Given his company’s specialties, Jaquith mainly discussed hosted cloud security and email services, but his general commentary can be applied to cloud services of most any type.
“We tend to think cloud security solutions are primarily for customers who don’t care about where the solutions are located,” said Jaquith. “That to us is the cloud.” For example, Jaquith said this means unified threat management (UTM) network security services cannot really be based in the cloud, since they provide an onsite gateway to client IT systems.
Jaquith said that hosted cloud services are ideal for helping clients utilize “big, gnarly applications that need to integrate with many other systems,” such as email. “A lot of SMBs are using Microsoft Exchange 2010, because of features like mobile support and Sharepoint support. But they have to do a forklift upgrade on a big part of their infrastructure,” which he said is leading many SMBs using Exchange 2010 to seek cloud hosting of the solution.
Keeping Mobile Devices SecureIn addition, Jaquith said that mobile security services are ideally suited for cloud hosting, since by definition they cannot be situated on-premise. “MSP customers aren’t shackled to their desks anymore,” he stated. “They’re doing business on the road, having meetings in Starbucks.”
Thus, SMBs now need hosted security services that perform tasks such as regulating what websites employees can visit and guarding against accidental malware downloads, wherever employees are located and whatever devices they are using. Cloud services can provide this type of mobile coverage, said Jaquith. He added that log management is also ideally suited to the cloud, as SMBs can leverage hosted cloud services rather than invest in “lots of disks.”
And for MSPs that do not currently have access to a cloud platform for hosting SMB services and solutions, Jaquith recommended partnering with a larger cloud services provider. He said Perimeter offers some cloud security cloud services through smaller resellers, and that other cloud services providers partner with smaller MSPs, as well.