How cloud is impacting vendors, the channel and the enterprise

It’s hard to imagine that 30 years ago, in offices big and small, data storage was at best a filing cabinet, but actually more likely to be an ever-growing pile of papers topped off with a smouldering ashtray.

A fire hazard you say? Better back up then, with carbon copies made using actual carbon paper. More paper to add to the bulging suspension files (another relic from the past).

Many businesses then adopted technologies such as tape backup, which provided more storage and more reliability but also came with limitations and challenges.

A far cry from the virtual workplaces of today, where, thanks to software and cloud technology’s ease-of-use, organisations of all sizes are benefitting from some of the most sophisticated IT, storage and backup technologies to date. No more sifting through decades of files: instead, data can be accessed from across the organisation at the touch of a button.

Of course it’s not always been such an even playing field. Until the development of levelling technologies like cloud, the enterprise charged ahead with IT refreshes and tech overhauls, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with their more limited budgets seemed to be left behind.

>See also: Are companies right to finally trust public cloud?

Often without a dedicated IT expert, let alone an IT team, SMBs were charged with making the unenviable choice between tapes or external hard drives for storage and backup. Neither as flexible, nor as useful, as the more expensive and large-scale kit the enterprise was gobbling up.

Success in business doesn’t just depend on having a good idea. It relies on having the infrastructure to nurture that idea and help it to grow.

Without the right IT infrastructure, SMBs, no matter how innovative, simply couldn’t begin to compete. Today’s infrastructure has become hybrid, meaning that it will combine some forms of local data protection (with an appliance or traditional software deployments) with cloud technology.

Cloud-based backup and storage has changed that. With no physical kit for users to maintain, it’s more affordable than more traditional solutions. It’s also easier to manage and doesn’t take up valuable office space that’s at a premium for most SMBs.

Suddenly, in terms of tech, smaller organisations are on a more equal footing with their larger competitors. And that’s set to have a profound impact, not just on SMBs and the enterprise, but on storage vendors and the channel landscapes too.

While backing up directly to the cloud may sound attractive at first, it is a best practice to have backup data on premise for speedier recoveries. It can be done through pre-packaged appliances, for example.

Replicating backup data to the cloud with the ability to recover in the cloud is the second line of defence. This means that SMBs can now benefit from much improved disaster recovery capabilities.

Don’t forget, SMBs work in a very different way to the enterprise. On a very practical level, with fewer staff and less bureaucracy, they are much more agile than their larger counterparts.

This means their sales cycle is much shorter than some of the big guys whose procurement decisions travel all the way up the line to the CFO.

Last year, a British Chambers of Commerce survey found that 69% of SMBs in the UK had adopted the technology, and as more start to choose cloud, that quicker turnaround could have a profound effect on the way the channel, in particular, manages its sales process.

That speedier decision-making is good news: deals won’t be hanging around for months on end. But sales to SMBs tend to be much smaller in scale than those multi-million pound enterprise wins.

So channel partners working on software or appliances combined with cloud sales could be handling multiple low yield sales with all the admin that comes with them. This puts a strain not only on the workforce, but on cash flow – particularly as SMBs have tighter budgets which depend on others paying them. This can have a knock-on effect, slowing down payments to the channel.

Gear change

For the channel and for vendors, there’ll also be a technology shift. SMBs need different things from their storage and backup. Without a dedicated specialist, they need a product that is easy to manage and does only what is required. And because SMBs tend to buy products as and when they need them, it’s unlikely they’re going to buy all their IT kit from the same vendor.

This means any cloud solution needs to work well with other technology without too much interference. Does the software or backup appliance offer a cloud service? Does it support public cloud vendors? These are critical questions to ask.

>See also: How cloud is bolstering business and impacting lives in the UK

SMBs are more flexible – they can turn things around more quickly and they are often more innovative. They’re more likely to take risks. They’re more fluid and are happier to adapt products after they’ve gone to market. Tough competition for some of the bigger, clunkier organisations, where product approval can drag on for months and structures are rigid.

Opening the prism more broadly, when SMBs adopt cloud as a technology (for storage, backup, applications), the things that have been holding them back – lack of infrastructure, slow IT facilities and time spent wrestling with storage and backup – are no longer a factor.

They suddenly have the time and ability to access new markets. In fact, research by Deloitte found that SMBs using cloud grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable than their non-cloud counterparts.

Sourced from Christophe Bertrand, VP of product marketing, Arcserve

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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