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Spiceworks 2014 Predictions in the World of SMB Tech

VMblog 2014 Prediction Series

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2014.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed article by Peter Tsai of Spiceworks

SMBs are on a roll and account for half of all IT spending. When it comes to server virtualization, cloud services and software-defined networking (SDN) there’s still plenty of up-side for tech vendors

At Spiceworks, we have a thriving community of 4 million IT pros that provide one-of-a-kind visibility into the current and future tech challenges and opportunities for SMBs.  As such, my predictions here are based not just on my own perspective but also on the stories and observations of the Spiceworks community.

It might be "established" technology but server virtualization adoption hasn't peaked yet.

Continuing a trend we've seen year after year, adoption of server virtualization and migration of physical servers to virtual machines will continue unabated in 2014. 

While it's a given in the enterprise space, some small organizations are only now implementing server virtualization to gain more efficient usage of server resources, failover/redundancy, physical space-savings gained by consolidating servers on to fewer physical boxes, and power and cooling cost savings.

In fact, looking at the results of our 2013 1H State of SMB IT survey, 53% of companies with fewer than 20 employees had adopted server virtualization, compared to roughly three-quarters of all other businesses. In 2014, we're going to see server virtualization adoption among the smallest companies finally cross the 60% threshold while their larger SMB counterparts continue to move to a "virtualization-first" mentality. 

SMBs will continue to lead the charge into cloud services.

The smaller the company, the fewer people working in that company's IT department. In some cases, a single individual is responsible for all IT tasks. Therefore, it makes logical sense that the smallest businesses outsource as much of their tech to the cloud as they can, especially when they don't have the staff, resources or expertise necessary to maintain on-premises resources. 

According to the same State of IT in SMB survey  companies with fewer than 20 employees were using 5.3 cloud services on average. Compare that to the overall IT industry average of 4.2 cloud services per company. By the end of 2014, businesses with fewer than 20 employees will increase their dependence on cloud services even further, raising their average use to more than six cloud services.  And across businesses of all sizes, there will very likely be a 15% increase in the number of cloud services used per company.

In 2014, the most popular cloud services will include web hosting and email, online backup and recovery, spam filtering/anti-malware, application hosting, and file sharing. Adoption of all of these cloud services will increase across companies of every size.

Software-defined networking will continue to be a big buzzword in tech news (but critical mass for SDN adoption and widespread usage are still several years away) 

In 2014, there will no doubt be a substantial number of IT articles written about SDN, but with no dominant standard in place, typically cost-sensitive SMBs are unlikely to implement SDN until the tech is thoroughly proven and the cost benefits become crystal clear. 

In general, adoption of software-defined networking solutions will likely follow the same patterns of server virtualization and storage virtualization. That is, there will be large interest but low adoption in the early years (although IT pros will evaluate early SDN products and put them through the paces in test environments), followed by mass acceptance down the road.

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About the Author

Peter Tsai is the IT Content Guru for Spiceworks. He is a former System Administrator turned computer engineer, turned IT blogger and marketer. Peter has been in the IT industry for more than a decade.

Published Monday, December 30, 2013 1:19 PM by David Marshall
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