Microsoft is highlighting new markets for hosting and communications service providers as adoption of cloud services among small and midsize businesses continues to rise.
According to Worldwide Hosting communications sector general manager John Zanni, Microsoft sees service providers becoming more important as the cloud becomes more predominant.
"Given their experience in deploying and selling infrastructure and software as a service, businesses will depend on them for IT as a service,” says Zanni.
“The next step for service providers is to look beyond their current hosted offerings to become full-service IT providers and trusted advisors to businesses.”
According to Microsoft’s global SMB IT and Hosted IT Index which surveyed nearly 3,200 SMBs across 14 countries, awareness of hosted services is increasing with 65 percent of SMBs using hosted software to some extent, while 73 percent of the remainder have considered it, compared with only 44 percent in the 2008 index.
Of those respondents currently using hosted services, the business advantage attracted them. Almost 36 percent wanted to find ways to improve business productivity, while 31 percent did not have the resources to manage their IT. Only 25 percent of respondents said cost was a factor. Three out of four respondents had considered using hosting for IT tools.
“For instance, SMBs in China, one of the fastest-growing markets, are the most likely to have considered using hosted services for four different IT tools: backup, file-sharing and collaboration, e-commerce, and customer relationship management,” says Zanni.
He says in terms of the IT currently used by SMBs, e-mail is the most pervasive IT tool worldwide (95.6 percent), followed by backup tools (92.4 percent).
“However, this does not mean that these tools are used by every company worldwide, as the research shows that even in a heavily regulated industry, more than 7 percent of financial services companies worldwide do not have any backup tools. This represents an enormous opportunity for service providers to provide hosted IT services to SMBs.”