2022 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges


    Top SMB & Midmarket Predictions for 2022


    Top SMB & Midmarket Predictions for 2022




    Networked, Engaged, Extended, Hybrid


    Influence map & care-abouts


    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption


    Delivering Connected Business


    SMB & Midmarket Security Adoption Trends


    US SMB & Midmarket Managed Services Adoption


    Transformation or Consolidation


    SMB & Midmarket Analytics & Artificial Intelligence Adoption


    SMB Path to Digitalization - Prologue and Epilogue




    US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption
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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

VMware: Serious SMB Focus, Re-ignited SMB Strategy

A new and restructured VMware took the stage at VMworld 2012 amid major changes driven by commoditization of “must-have” virtualization technology within enterprises and a cultural change where mobility is driving many technology decisions. Although the most important announcements included the vCloud Suite, the software-defined datacenter and the death of vRAM pricing, there were several other pronouncements that were especially relevant to SMBs, most significantly vSphere 5.1.

VMware has always offered solutions that were appropriate for the SMB market, but have not been considered a priority as the enterprise business segment, without real competition, kept VMware busy, growing and profitable. However, over the past two years SMBs have begun to grow in importance for VMware driven by several factors:

  • The Enterprise segment has become increasingly virtualized (saturated) and starting to look more limited in growth prospects; the remaining high growth areas relegated  to emerging market countries and increasing penetration of workload yet to be virtualized within the mature economies

  • SMBs have overcome their initial hesitation with cloud-based services and become increasingly comfortable with using emerging Cloud technologies and Cloud Computing in general

  • Mobility and use of multiple devices anytime and from anywhere is becoming increasingly important within the SMB segment

  • Consultants and channel partners serving the SMB segment have evangelized the advantages of virtualization that enable SMBs to reduce IT management costs, provide better security and disaster recovery and improve application accessibility

  • After a slow start, Microsoft made a strong move into the virtualization space at low price points, expanding the awareness of virtualization within their SMB base

  • Microsoft’s huge base of channel partners found it easy to market Microsoft’s virtualization solutions to their customers

As a result of the above factors, SMB market segment began to appear like a growing and untapped opportunity deserving serious consideration and potentially aggressive investment.

SMB Virtualization Opportunity

Our research shows that this consideration has plenty of merit: a recent Techaisle survey of 3,300 SMBs in US, UK, Germany clearly shows that virtualization is now among the top 3 relevant technologies for small and mid-market businesses (SMBs) and rapid growth is expected to continue. Typically, SMBs begin their virtualization journey with either desktop or server virtualization and based on that success, move to other virtualization technologies. This relatively newfound interest among SMBs bodes extremely well for VMware and its channel partners.

 There is no doubt that SMB Server Virtualization is a huge opportunity. Techaisle survey of 3,300 SMBs in US, UK, Germany clearly shows that opportunity is real. If VMware does not move aggressively, others will move in rapidly.

Important VMware SMB Announcements

vSphere 5.1 (there are two versions) with vSphere Essentials Kits for SMBs for up to 250 employees on a single site or vSphere 5.1 with vSphere Acceleration Kits for SMBs with 250+ employees across two or more sites were by far the most significant product announcements for small and mid-market businesses as they are targeted directly at the mid-market space in terms of functionality, price, ease of installation and deployment.

Pricing starts at US$495 for vSphere Essentials and goes up to US$4,495 for vSphere Essential Plus that includes  vMotion (for live migration of virtual machines, no shared storage), endpoint security, high availability and fault tolerance, data protection and replication features , vSphere Storage Appliance. With this new version, VMware has simplified the installation of storage appliance and a one-to-one relationship between vCenter and vSphere Storage Appliance is no longer a requirement.

vSphere Acceleration Kits includes everything that is available in vSphere Essentials plus IT operations management, application inventory and patching, powerful and efficient resource management, and policy-based automation. The pricing starts at US$6,995 per 6-CPU license.  And a new solution, vSphere Standard with Operations Management, includes all the enhanced features of vSphere Standard plus vCenter Operations Manager and vCenter Protect for operations management, application inventory and patching in one bundle for $10,000 per 6 CPU license.

For those SMBs that are tip-toeing into the virtualization arena, there is VMware Go Pro (first announced in January 2011) which is a web-based service to deploy, manage and maintain virtualized environments, and lowering barriers to entry. It offers the ability to convert physical servers to virtual servers through a browser. In fact cloud-based virtual machine capability is a new feature. Incidentally, 30 free endpoint licenses of VMware Go Pro is included in every new purchase for vSphere Essentials or Essentials Plus Kit purchases until December 15, 2012.

VMware View is VMware’s VDI solution and its upcoming Horizon Suite beta is the answer for centralized application and data management addressing the needs of SMBs that are using VDI as a fast-path to mobility.

Techaisle Takeaway

Right Direction by VMware in Addressing the Needs of SMBs

With these virtualization solutions VMware is potentially addressing important needs of SMBs considering virtualization including simplified management, backup and recovery, and security.  The solutions allow SMBs to take advantage of existing investments by relying on the same management interfaces used to secure physical environments. These are the types of characteristics that SMBs have embraced wholeheartedly in other areas of Cloud-based Services, which led to rapid adoption and overthrow of the expensive and overly-complex Client-Server approach to IT.

Included in the offering is a backup and recovery solution for complete data protection for virtual machines and virtual machine level replication. In addition the storage appliance (now included in vSphere Essentials Plus and all vSphere Acceleration Kits) allows SMBs to easily and cost-effectively deploy shared storage even in remote and branch offices. VMware vShield Endpoint helps in strengthening security for virtual machines while delegating antivirus and anti-malware agent processing to a dedicated secure virtual appliance.

There were other solutions that were announced by VMware, primarily targeted at the enterprise segment, but we believe, with some modifications are equally relevant for the SMBs. These are software-defined datacenters and Cloud Operations Services.

Enterprise Targeted Solutions Equally Relevant for SMBs

Software defined datacenters: While relatively unknown to SMBs at this stage, this future mainstay will become highly relevant within the next 3 – 5 years. It is therefore essential for VMware to keep in mind the specific design points and requirements of SMBs in addition to the larger accounts as it develops its product and strategy for software-defined-datacenters. SMBs continue to be concerned about the increasing complexity of IT and 77% have expressed the concern in a recent survey. While provisioning VMs (virtual machines) may only take a few minutes, when storage and networking components are added, the proposition begins to become more complex, requiring more time and resources.  Based on how SMBs are adopting cloud-based services and looking at some of the new, innovative services platform technologies that are gaining quick acceptance in the market, there seems to be some space in the market for a plug-and-play “base datacenter package” that would be appropriate for SMBs in this area.  In a nutshell, this base package should allow rapid provisioning of the key components of the environment (compute, storage, and network) as a virtual datacenter. As SMBs expand operations and grow regionally, the ability to quickly re-configure new and existing locations by shrinking, extending or moving virtual machines along with networking to meet elastic demand requirements would be a very valuable proposition.

Tools for the SMB Trusted Advisor

VMware Cloud Operations Services:  currently positioned as a trusted advisor for CIOs of enterprises on a cloud journey.  It also seems the market is in real need of a simplified and cost-effective version of the services that will be equally relevant for the SMB segment. Techaisle surveys have found that in the rush to implement Cloud Services, users especially among Small Businesses, are beginning to rely much more on independent IT Consultants as their new source of advice. Also, based on the ability of vendors to market, sell and deliver these services completely through a digital channel, SMBs are turning directly to vendors for their advice. As discussed in a previous post, the critical issue, now more than ever, is to be the trusted advisor early in the SMB’s lifecycle and establish the relationship. VMware will also have to empower its channel partners with new training modules, competencies and financial incentive to offer advisory services, and come in and get these new offers up and running fast and right on the first try - the sure fire way to start a long term relationship with the SMB customer.

vRAM Pricing Still Ruling for Service Providers

Finally, it is not out of place to say that although vRAM pricing is dead, it is still the licensing metric for the VSPP (channel program). vRAM pricing for service providers is a different model - whereas vRAM for perpetual was a limitation on the entitlement, in VSPP it is the metric. Although the model allows service providers to offer their customers the benefits of opex-based “pay-as-you-go” service it may leave some smaller-sized service providers wanting more.  These service providers should work closely with VMware to determine possibles solution for their SMB customer needs. For example, in cases where,

  1. SMB customers on a perpetual license wanting to move from an on-premise to a hosted solution specially if they would be operating below the RAM caps

  2. SMB customers electing to use a mixed virtualization environment in a hosted model

As SMBs continue to adopt cloud services and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) becomes mainstream for SMBs, VMware needs to develop a strategy that encourages the hosting providers to address the SMB segment by having same consistent pricing, that is, per processor for both on-premise and hosted models. Until that happens, VMware is potentially opening the doors wider to competing products.

Concluding Remarks

It is quite apparent that VMware is committed to serving the needs of the SMB segment clearly demonstrated by its well thought out product enhancements, packaging and roadmap.  Centralized management and control, ability to “plug in” branch offices, keeping costs manageable and allowing existing IT staff to focus on measurable value are huge value propositions to SMBs. It is also a new service that SMB focused service providers can offer by leveraging these centralized management tools and better support their customers.  It is an excellent opportunity for the channel, which is being rapidly disintermediated by the rise of vendor direct online marketing, new consulting competitors and redeployed internal IT resources, which we have covered in depth in another post. A recent Techaisle study of over 1600 Channel Partners shows many of these partners are struggling for lack of serious value-added opportunities and could benefit from VMware’s new SMB offers.

Anurag Agrawal


Dell Executes on its plan for end-to-end Desktop Virtualization

In a small gathering of analysts and media , Dell showcased and unveiled its latest end-to-end desktop virtualization capabilities. The announcement was carefully crafted to time with the VMworld event being held in San Francisco next week. During the entire two hour “Chalk Talk” by Dell team, SMB was mentioned only three times and mid-market design point (Dell’s new mantra unfolded at its analyst event earlier in the year) was never mentioned at all. However, the importance, urgency, messaging and relevancy were clear and precise.

The announcements included Dell EqualLogic intelligent datacenter storage arrays with SSD tier & spinning media, Dell Wyse zero clients, and Dell DVS Enterprise reference architectures including vStart for VDI Reference Architecture – VMware View, Dell Mobile Clinical Computing - VMware AlwaysOn Point of Care™ Reference Architecture and New Dell DVS Enterprise –VMware Mobile Secure Desktop Reference Architecture.

Simplified, Manageable, Secure End-to-End Desktop Virtualization solution that SMBs will appreciate

Kicking off the discussions, Rafael Colorado, Marketing Director, Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions, said, “Customers have to face complexity and try to implement desktop virtualization themselves and get stuck. Dell is trying to isolate components that create complexity”. The statement summarizes the technology pain-point being experienced by SMBs in adopting emerging technologies. Techaisle’s July 2012 survey of 3300 SMBs in US, UK, Germany found that 72 percent of SMBs want vendors to simplify technology and 61 percent are ignoring some technologies because they are finding the decision making to be too complex.

Hence, simplification in any form will be a step in the right direction. The same survey also showed that Virtualization is among the Top 5 relevant technologies for SMBs but is also among the Top 5 technologies most complex to understand. Dell is serving up simplification in the form of single SKU, an end-to-end virtualization solution that is manageable, secure, innovative, and intelligent and with one contact phone number. vStart for VDI Reference Architecture – VMware View runs as a workload on top of the Dell vStart stack, offering flexibility and efficiency enabling the organization to focus on driving enhanced business agility and delivering IT assets – rather than building an infrastructure. vStart for VDI 50 is already available from Dell for no-stress SMB deployments. The vStart for VDI 50, is a pre-configured solution for SMBs scaling from sub-100 up to 250 users per system and vStart for VDI 1000 for businesses that scales from 1000 up to 1,000 – 4, 000 users per system. In fact, Techaisle’s SMB VDI Adoption and Trends study shows that of all the SMBs planning to deploy VDI, 37 percent will have between 20 to 50 users.

Drivers of SMB Desktop Virtualization adoption and Dell’s solution components

The drivers of desktop virtualization are many, but the top five as mentioned in recent Techaisle survey of 1200 SMBs in the US are:

SMBs are planning to use VDI to reduce costs, better disaster recovery, and access of applications from anywhere and on any device in a secure infrastructure. Reduction in costs and better disaster recovery are considered to be inherent outcomes of virtualization deployments.

Dell EqualLogic Intelligent Data Center Storage Solution

Dell EqualLogic new storage arrays (available in Q4) are its densest hybrid storage arrays for tiered I/O in a single appliance. Through built-in auto-tiering algorithms, it creates automatic load balancing and puts out the most frequently used data on SSDs thereby “providing 360 percent improvement in array access and 75 percent reduction in latency lowering the manageability for desktop virtualization deployments”.  For a mid-market business, and specifically for verticals such as healthcare, financial services and even manufacturing these would be of great advantage. The solution component helps in cost reduction and application availability (1 and 2 above in chart).

Dell Wyse Zero Clients

Dell Wyse zero clients P25 and P45 designed specifically for VMware View implementations provides better manageability, security and mobile access to data and applications. The P25 uses Tera 2 processor and can move 50 million pixels to the screen. It supports Ethernet, wireless and fiber unlike other zero clients. The P25 can support 1920 x 1280-pxiel resolution for two displays or 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution for one display. The P45 can be used to support up to four displays. The solution component helps in application availability, mobile access and secure data (3, 4 and 5 above in chart).

Dell DVS Enterprise - VMware Mobile Secure Desktop and Dell Mobile Clinical Computing - VMware AlwaysOn Point of Care™ Reference Architectures

Dell and VMware have also jointly validated the Dell Mobile Clinical Computing for VMware AlwaysOn Point of Care™ offering with VMware View. Powered by Dell’s Mobile Clinical Computing solution, this architectural design incorporates a number of features to ensure data integrity as well as minimal disruption in computing service to the caregiver, including: constant monitoring, secure rapid access, single sign on and constant data replication across sites. With this validated architectural design, healthcare organizations now have unparalleled desktop and application reliability and availability – and secure rapid access from virtually any device.


SMBs are quickly recognizing the need to adopt virtualization within their businesses, however, they also find it complex to understand and implement. Complexity comes from inherent questions SMBs ask themselves and their advisors: What can virtualization do for us? Which virtualization technology is best for us? How should we implement it so that we get the most benefits in the shortest period of time? Who can help us implement it? Nevertheless as per Techaisle research, VDI market in the US alone will be US$588 million in 2016 growing at 41 percent CAGR.

Most SMBs rely on their local channel partners for maintenance & management of their IT infrastructure as well as for advice on new IT purchases. Therefore, Dell created a new Desktop Virtualization Solution competency based on feedback from  its network of 100,000 channel partners to provide them appropriate training and skills to sell and manage VDI for their local SMB customers.

In the meantime, with its latest desktop virtualization offerings Dell is continuing to execute on its vision of an end-to-end, best-of-breed solutions company.

Anurag Agrawal

VMware SMB Strategy: Products to address Small Business Virtualization Needs

VMware just announced two new and updated cloud offerings for the SMBs - VMware Go Pro and VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus. VMware Go Pro is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product designed to make it easy for SMBs to manage, monitor, and secure both physical and virtual machines through a single console. VMware vCenter Protects Essentials Plus is an on-premise IT management system including asset discovery, configuration, power management, antivirus and endpoint security designed for use in both physical and virtual environments.

VMware Go Pro
While VMware Go Pro was introduced in January 2011, the latest release has some new important capabilities such as - “IT Advisor,” which scans and assesses an SMB’s physical and virtual infrastructure and then provides recommendations, guidance, alerts and actions to help the small and mid-market businesses optimize their environments, streamline management processes, improve security and expand their virtualized infrastructure. Each time the IT Advisor scans the environment, it provides new alerts to quickly identify and solve problems.  The latest release also includes updated asset and patch management capabilities that allow users to create and label groups of machines and then schedule patch scans and deployment for these groups.

VMware Go Pro with a starting price of $12 per managed system/per year will become available for download in Q4 2011. However, it will take some time for the product to be widely available through VMware’s global partner network of nearly 25,000 channels.

VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus
New features within VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus include – new scripting capabilities to drive increased efficiency by allowing SMBs to manage and execute scripts across machine groups or the entire network.  It will also allow users to execute Remote Desktop Protocol from the vCenter Protect Essentials Plus “Machine View,” allowing IT admins’ remote access to a target machine. While not a typical scenario for a small business, nevertheless, vCenter Protect Essentials Plus console will also allow multiple administrators to simultaneously perform different tasks at the same time in IT-intensive mid-sized organizations that offer hosting and other cloud-based services including social media services.

Similar to VMware Go Pro, VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus will be offered through VMware’s global network of channel partners in Q4 2011. It is expected to be available as an annual subscription at $57 per server/per year and $36 per workstation/per year.

Techaisle Take
As per Techaisle’s research, Worldwide SMB Virtualization spend is expected to be US$952 million in 2011. However, the spending is heavily driven by medium businesses (100-999 employees), in fact, 95 percent will come from this segment. US represents nearly three-fourths of that spend. Thus far, most virtualization vendors like VMware have focused their efforts on the mid-market businesses that have in-house IT staff and large IT infrastructure. On the other hand small businesses can also benefit from virtualization if vendors actively market their offerings to service providers that can provide aggregated offerings for smaller businesses. But with its new offerings available in 28 languages, VMware is making a bold attempt at broadening its SMB customer base on a worldwide basis.

The messaging used by Mark Shavlik, Vice president and General Manager, SMB Management Solutions, VMware seems quite right as he addressed virtualization as solving a business issue and not a technology product.  He said, “We continue to innovate to bring SMBs advanced solutions tailored to their needs so that they can increase efficiency and reduce costs regardless of the size or sophistication of their IT organization”.

VMware has being doing well because it has established itself as the default Virtualization vendor for large enterprises. However, with its new initiatives, it is increasing its focus on its messaging specifically for SMBs. This would allow global SMBs to enjoy the benefits of virtualization and improve their asset utilization and reduce management costs while at the same time increasing business flexibility and security.

The cacophony surrounding virtualization has led to confusing generalizations. VMware would do well to guide SMBs better in this regard. While the virtualization market has developed, systems management tool vendors have continued to enhance capabilities of their products as well. It would be useful for VMware and its channels to provide better case studies and ROIs to SMBs underscoring when it would or would not be useful to deploy virtualization.

VMware has three major advantages: its portfolio of products, ecosystem to implement and support, VMware's environments and brand recognition. It is time to start capitalizing on these advantages to target the SMB market segment. Microsoft and Citrix are not far behind.

Tavishi Agrawal


SMBs Unmistakable March to Virtualization

The entire IT industry is on an unmistakable path to virtualization with certain segments adopting it faster than others (e.g. financial sector, hosting companies, etc.) Server virtualization is still the primary driver of virtualization although, in the last couple of years, VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), which helps virtualize all client devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones has also shown remarkable growth. Storage virtualization is limited to the larger companies with vast amounts of storage although it will be an integral part of cloud delivery centers as well as integrated/converged data centers. These trends will make virtualization a growth market for several years.

While large companies are adopting virtualization on their in-house infrastructure, only certain SMBs are likely to adopt in-house virtualization. Most will be delivered virtualized solutions (especially VDI) via virtual infrastructures by hosters.

The largest share of Virtualization adoption by SMBs comes from North America, however, Asia/Pacific is the place to be. Asia/Pacific right now shows two distinct trends. On one hand, we see a number of smaller companies adopting in-house IT infrastructures. On the other hand, businesses with somewhat larger IT needs have started to adopt virtualization and the trend is expected to gain momentum in the near future. Armed with latest information about latest technologies and driven by rapid business growth (and corresponding growth of their IT infrastructures), Asia/Pacific businesses have shown a high openness towards, and willingness to adopt virtualization. In many cases, virtualization is an integral part of the discussions while designing and implementing new IT infrastructures among Asia/Pacific businesses.

The growth rate of Virtualization in Asia/Pacific is a little over 28 percent from 2010.

Virtualization reaching the Consumer Market
Virtualization is already being used by consumers and small businesses widely. The most common example of this is Parallels, which allows consumers to run Windows operating systems on their Apple machines. (Other vendors also have comparable products to help consumers run multiple OS’ on their machines.

Microsoft has also made virtual machines integral to its Windows 7 OS that allows users to run their Windows XP applications on their new Windows 7 operating systems.

In the near term, this trend of using multiple OS’ on a single machine will accelerate. Further down the road, it is entirely possible that increasing reliance on cloud-delivered services may reduce the users' need for on-site virtualization. But that is still further down the road and the exact trend is still an open question.

Market Leader in Virtualization
VMware is still the dominant leader with over two-thirds to three-fourths of the market for server virtualization. What contributed to its leadership position is that it has the benefit of an early start, a broad range of supporting products for managing virtual environments, a strong channel and partnerships with most leading vendors for the resale of its products.

Challenging VMware's Market Dominance
VMware has three major advantages: its portfolio of products, ecosystem to implement and support VMware's environments and brand recognition. Any competitor who hopes to compete with VMware head on will need to at least match VMware's strengths in these areas. Citrix is gaining traction, especially with its VDI initiatives. Microsoft has the potential to compete with VMware but will need to focus more. Other competitors are still in early phases and unlikely to pose a major threat to VMware in the short term.
Various attempts at open source solutions that would reduce or potentially eliminate the reliance on the underlying virtualization platform are still in very initial stages. Theoretically, adoption of open solutions will avoid a vendor lock-in by customers as they would be able to move applications easily. Even if the efforts take off, it'll take a few years to have any material impact on VMware's dominance. A greater source of threat for VMware is competition from other vendors like Citrix, Microsoft and other smaller vendors (including potentially Oracle).

VCE's vision of integrated data centers needs to be supplemented by tangible products for its eventual success. It might take some time before such integrated data centers are designed and developed and gain customer acceptance. However, short-term ups and downs aside, the industry will move towards such integrated products coming from various vendors (e.g. HP's converged infrastructure). These integrated modular data centers will make it much easier for companies to install them and reduce their costs for designing, installing and maintaining these data centers.

Tavishi Agrawal


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