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Parallels is staging an unashamedly strategic assault on the SMB cloud market with a series of updated offerings designed to help service providers create, deliver and manage bundled cloud services for small businesses.
Joining what is described as a “major update” to the open (but Parallels originated) Application Packaging Standard at version 2.0, are parallel updates (no pun intended) to the Parallels Automation 5.5 product alongside the firm’s Cloud Storage and Cloud Server products; all of which plug into the firm’s Plesk control panel to form a toolset for service providers to produce differentiated bundles of cloud services.
What typifies and characterises small to medium sized business/enterprise usage of cloud technologies.
Speaking at the Parallels Summit in Las Vegas, Parallels CEO Birgir Steen says SMBs will generally gravitate towards certain streams of cloud application. "Collaboration services are hugely popular with the SMB market," he said. "Hosted voice PBX is also a key deployment. Think about it, why would an SMB opt for a physical phone option when you can instead create a virtual VP of sales, a virtual VP of service and support (and so on) when it fact it's really just a couple of guys running the show."
So that’s collaboration and PBX for SMBs in the cloud. Right alongside these virtualised functions we also find cloud backup consistently ranked in the “top 3” services purchased at this level says Parallels. Fourth (although not necessarily in that order and we will get to that issue) is anti-virus, anti-intrusion and all manner of Internet security protection services. So we see that the SMB cloud ecosystem starts to build.
But what in order of ranking should the small business approach and adopt the basic core elements of their new cloud existence? Parallels own research points to four million SMBs using cloud in 2012 rising to as many as seven million by 2015. Surely these firms are going to need some kind of life methodology to guide them in their adoption of the various layers of cloud services?
The hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ specifies that we humans need air, food, water, sex and other bodily functions at the base level. SMBs then surely need data creation and storage elements as the foundation layer of their own cloud existence.
Security comes next in both the human as well as cloud SMB model and this seems fairly logical i.e. once we exist, we need to protect ourselves. Further layers bring in the concepts of family and friendship, so logically here of course we will suggest that cloud-based collaboration services must exist for SMEs from two person operations and upwards.
Higher human levels in Maslow’s model start to bring in notions of self-esteem and respect by others. Although this is harder to translate to the cloud model as a direct metaphor, we can probably suggest that services such as business dashboards and/or accounting services might exist here i.e. that which sits on top of the business to solidify its position.
Where Parallels goes with its concepts of cloud enablement technology now may indeed be fuelled by the SMB growth predictions that CEO Steen has pointed to. Whether there is an analogy for the final “self-actualisation” phase that sits at the top of Maslow’s pyramid is hard to guess.
Problem solving, creativity and spontaneity (from Maslow) almost seem to point to advanced business analytics, autonomic self-healing computer systems and artificial intelligence. Does cloud imitate life? It might be happening.