Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

May 5, 2015

SMB Group talks to Atlantis Computing about HyperScale Appliance

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Here’s an edited transcript of my interview with Bob Davis, VP of Marketing for Atlantis Computing about their recently announced HyperScale Appliance.

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Sanjeev: Hi, this is Sanjeev Aggarwal from SMB group and in today’s SMB spotlight I’m talking to Bob Davis, who is Atlantis Computing’s Vice President of Marketing. Hi Bob, thanks for joining me in this discussion. To start it would be good to know what types of storage solutions Altantis provides.

Bob: Okay, well first of all thank you for the opportunity to be on the call today, Sanjeev. We are excited to be launching an all-flash hyper-converged appliance, which we call Atlantis HyperScale, that provides not only compute, networking and storage, but all together in one box for up to 90% less cost than competing alternatives.

Sanjeev: And why should mid-size companies care about this solution?

Bob: I think the focus here is that this is the first commercially viable choice that SMBs have had to really adopt such a powerful component for their compute needs or their data center needs. It takes all of that functionality that I just described and makes it affordable, really addressing the needs for performance, which all-flash addresses, but it’s very expensive. It also provides simplicity, which our hyper-converged architecture promises but which has been priced out of the market for most, if not all SMBs.

Sanjeev: How do you define a hyper-converged appliance? And what services does this appliance provide?

Bob: Well, obviously the appliance manifests itself as a hardware box, as a hardware server. On it we provide an all-flash architecture, with the ability to deploy on any of your favorite hardware. For example, Super Micro, Cisco, HP or Lenovo servers, which contain, as I mentioned, compute capabilities, state of the art X86 compute capabilities and networking capabilities. So it plugs right into your infrastructure, and obviously your storage, and the storage comes in 12 and 24 TB configurations. Upon that architecture, it can run really any workload, any application. So far, customers have used it for things like desktop virtualization, database acceleration, collaboration, storage, and applications like email and other virtualized server applications that are found typically in SMB and commercial environments.

Sanjeev: Thanks. Cost is an important consideration for the mid-sized company, so how does the price point of the Atlantis solution compare to the competitors that have similar solutions?

Bob: You’re absolutely right, Sanjeev, I think cost and simplicity or time-to-value are two of the primary drivers that were included in the evolution and the development of this product line. From a cost point of view, our product starts at a price of $80,000 for an all-flash 12 TB appliance. Compare that with other all-flash appliances and you can spend up to $800,000. So a factor of 10 more expensive, even against lower performance hybrid type converged boxes you’re looking at a price savings of greater than 50%. So again, really making it commercially viable for the first time.

Sanjeev: How easy is it to deploy this appliance, and does one need to be a storage expert to deploy it?

Bob: Yeah, that points to the second of our previous comments and that is the simplicity aspect. That was really important to us, so we developed it with the idea that the customer would have very little in terms of an IT staff, that the IT Staff would be generalists or perhaps even an external IT staff. We wanted it to be able to be very straightforward. It takes less than 20 minutes to install at a customer site. Answer a few questions and boom the volumes serve up, the virtual server comes alive, and it’s available on the network for high performance. It’s very straightforward and the time-to-value is like lightning. So it’s really an awesome product for that market.

Sanjeev: And does this appliance integrate some of the previous storage systems that SMBs and mid-market companies have?

Bob: Yes, it conforms to every standard on the planet, it comes complete with networking, so it’s a plug and play component from that point of view, and serves up the storage to the network so it’s visible through the network management application that might be present at the site through common APIs.

Sanjeev: Okay, can you give some examples of initial targets for the vertical solutions and also some examples of mid-market beta customers that have tested the solution?

Bob: Sure, I think that you know, we have historically at Atlantis computing, seen a lot of pickup in the healthcare and financial services area for Software-Defined Storage as a category as a whole, Atlantis HyperScale has seen some similar kind of attraction, so mid-sized banks, regional banks, healthcare organizations, pharmacy, these are all verticals that have been very, very prominent. Another is schools. We’ve had tremendous success, historically and with Atlantis Hypsercale in the area of schools. A lot of the things that are in common in these environments, are desktops that move around whether its doctors, or students for example, or tellers, where I have a desktop virtualization application which by the way are very inefficient relative to storage and require a lot of performance which makes a hyper-converged architecture in this case, Atlantis HyperScale, perfect for those environments. And that is indeed the environment where our beta customers have come from, in addition to that, some retail and manufacturing facilities. And our customers have been both North America as well as EMIA, in terms of their geography, so we see a very global presence with Atlantis HyperScale.

Sanjeev: How does Atlantis go to market with the solution, does it sell directly or through channel partners?

Bob: Great question Sanjeev, because that’s very central to our strategy. We are going to market exclusively through Value-Added-Resellers, solution providers and so forth. We have an Atlantis Channel Program where we are beginning this through to our gold partners, but we will be expanding it to those that service the SMB market, that deal in storage virtualization markets. But again key point, a hundred percent through the channel is the fulfillment strategy of Atlantis Hyerscale

Sanjeev: And can you help mid-market companies connect with these partners?

Bob: Yes, you are able to go to our website at Atlantiscomputing.com, the HyperScale sections on the website are clear and from that you’ll be able to find a partner and get a quote. You’ll obviously get more information and really learn anything you’d like about Atlantis HyperScale and in this particular point, especially about where to buy it.

Sanjeev: Okay, thank you. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. I look forward to seeing the progress this innovative and competitive solution makes in the market.

Bob: Thank you very much Sanjeev, we will be sure to keep you and your listeners and readers apprised of our progress.

November 27, 2012

Report Card: 2012 Top 10 SMB Technology Market Predictions

–by Laurie McCabe and Sanjeev Aggarwal, SMB Group

Before developing our 2013 predictions, we wanted to assess how we did on our 2012 Top 10 SMB Technology Predictions. Here’s our take–please let us know what grades you would have given us!

And stay tuned for our Top 10 SMB Technology Predictions for 2013, which we will post in a couple of weeks!

Note: On this grading scale, 5 means that we came closest to hitting the mark, and 1 means we missed it entirely.

Prediction Score

Comments

  1. Economic Anxiety Lowers SMB Revenue Expectations and Tightens Tech Wallets
4 Year-over-year data from our annual SMB Routes to Market Studies
indicated that more small and medium businesses (SMBs)* were forecasting flat or decreased IT spending heading into 2012 compared to 2011. Given SMB budget constraints and the plethora of solutions aimed at SMBs, vendors had to work harder to convince budget-constrained SMBs that their solutions would really help address top SMB business challenges to attract new customers, grow revenues and maintain profitability. More SMBs turned to lower-risk, pay-as-you-go cloud options, and several vendors (IBM, Dell and HP, to name a few) introduced new and/or enhanced financing options to help SMBs overcome financial hurdles.
  1. The SMB Progressive Class Gains Ground
5 We identified a distinct category of SMBs that we termed “Progressive SMBs,” who see technology as integral to achieving business goals and to gaining a competitive edge. Progressive SMBs invest more and purchase more sophisticated solutions than their counterparts. Trending analysis from our 2011 to 2012 Routes to Market Studies show that the percentage of SMBs in the Progressive category is growing. Furthermore, Progressive SMBs continue to gain ground over SMBs that skimp on technology in terms of expected business performance.
  1. The SMB Social Media Divide Grows
5 SMB adoption of social media did indeed jump, from 44% to 53% among small businesses (and from 52% to 63% among medium businesses from 2011 to 2012, based on trending analysis in our SMB Social Business Studies. The divide between social media haves and have-nots is also growing: our research reveals that 65% of SMBs that use social business tools anticipate revenue gains, while only 17% of “non-social” SMBs expect revenues to increase.
  1. Cloud Becomes the New Normal
4 SMBs haven’t swapped out all of their on-premises solutions in favor of the cloud–but the puck is clearly moving to the cloud in all application areas. The evolution is continuing at a steady pace, as evidenced by trending analysis in our annual SMB Routes to Market Studies. In some areas, cloud is poised to overtake on-premises solutions. For instance, over 30% of SMBs that purchased or upgraded collaboration, marketing automation, BI and data backup in the past 24 months chose cloud, and over 40% of SMBs planning to purchase solutions in those areas in the next month plan cloud deployments.
  1. Mobile Application Use Extends Beyond Email to Business Applications
5 SMBs significantly ramped up mobile business application use and plans in 2012, as evidenced by trending analysis from our annual SMB Mobile Solutions Studies. More SMBs are providing mobile business apps to employees in categories ranging from CRM to time management to expense reporting. In addition, adoption of external-facing (for customers, partners and suppliers) mobile apps and websites also rose considerably. For instance, SMB use of a mobile-friendly website is up 10% among small businesses and 23% among medium businesses.
  1. Increased SMB Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics Investments Are Sparked by the Social-Mobile-Cloud Triumvirate
3 The avalanche of data generated by cloud, social and mobile has certainly created the need for better analytics. However, year-over year trending data from our SMB Routes to Market Studies reveals a mixed bag in terms of adoption. Use of BI solutions among medium businesses spiked 24% in the past year, but adoption rose just 2% among small businesses. While vendors appear to be doing a good job of developing and marketing BI solutions tailored to the needs of medium businesses, they have not yet figured out the right formula for smaller ones.
  1. Managed Services Meet Mobile
5 We forecast that the explosion of mobile devices and apps, “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomenon and the increasing concerns about security would spark increased demand for and more solutions to manage mobile on the back-end. Our annual SMB Mobile Solutions Studies show that SMB adoption of mobile management services—from simple device management to comprehensive mobile management platforms—has accelerated rapidly. For instance, 16% of SMBs have already deployed an outsourced mobile management platform, and 30% plan to do so within a year.
  1. The Accidental Entrepreneur Spikes Demand for No-Employee Small Business Solutions
5 Small businesses without a payroll make up more than 70% of America’s 27 million companies. We hypothesized that the 2008 recession and subsequent layoffs generated a new and often “accidental” breed of entrepreneurs that would spike demand for—and growth of—applications targeted to meet the needs of these businesses. And they have. New and improved cloud-based and mobile apps from traditional small business powerhouses (Sage, Intuit, Microsoft, Google, etc.), SOHO pioneers (Freshbooks, Nimble, Dropbox, Zoho, etc.), and freelance talent sourcing solutions from companies such as Elance and oDesk are making it easier than ever for SOHOs to get their work done.
  1. Increased Adoption of Collaboration and Communication Services in Integrated Suites
4 Trending from our Routes to Market Study Medium businesses shows that overall, use and plans to deploy collaboration solutions is up year-over-year. Low-cost, low-risk, cloud-based collaboration and communications services have made it easier for SMBs to use integrated collaboration tools, while eliminating the inconvenience of using multiple sign-ons and interfaces.
The fact that vendors are integrating more into their offerings—such as Google integrating Google+ hangouts, IBM SmartCloud Engage adding social communities and Citrix adding video capabilities to GoToMeeting—doesn’t hurt either.
  1. The IT Channel Continues to Shape-Shift.
5 Cloud, social and mobile trends continue to reshape how channel partners must deliver value across the board. SMBs are increasingly choosing to purchase directly from software and cloud vendors in most areas. And Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have gained ground as a purchase channel over VARs in several solution areas, including security, BI and collaboration. The need for more specialized business and/or technology expertise has also made some types of channel players more relevant in each specific solution category than others.

*In SMB Group Syndicated Survey studies, we define small businesses as those with 1-99 employees, and medium businesses as having 100-999 employees.

For more information on our most recent SMB Mobile, Social Business and Routes to Market Studies, please visit our website, www.smb-gr.com, or contact Sanjeev Aggarwal, Sanjeev.aggarwal@smb-gr.com, 508-410-3562.


January 10, 2012

Cisco OnPlus: IT Infrastructure Advisory and Management Services Solution For Small Businesses

Last month, Cisco introduced a new IT Infrastructure advisory and management service solution designed for VARs  to provide to small businesses with less than 100 employees. Delivered via Cisco’s value-added reseller (VAR) channel, Cisco OnPlus enables VARs to offload the mundane, time consuming tasks of managing a network environment from small businesses, and provide them with higher value advisory services.  In addition to monitoring and managing network infrastructure devices, such as switches, wireless access points and routers, OnPlus also monitors devices that are connected to the network (including smartphones and tablets).  VARs can deploy a small OnPlus Network Agent appliance at the customer site, and remotely monitor and manage it through the cloud via a secure web portal or mobile application..

Perspective

 Cisco’s OnPlus IT infrastructure advisory and management service solution is designed to meet the needs of small businesses. SMB Group’s 2011 SMB Routes to Market study indicates that small businesses’ top technology related challenges include: Gaining ‘peace of mind’ that IT is under control (40%), Containing IT costs (38%), Finding/hiring qualified IT staff(35%), Upgrading IT infrastructure(34%), Protecting business from IT related failures(32%), Getting more done with fewer/flat IT resources (26%). As illustrated in Figure 1, Cisco’s OnPlus with Assess, Manage, Advise, Maintain features helps directly address several of these technology challenges.

Several IT infrastructure monitoring and management solutions are available for small and medium businesses (SMBs) ,  but they are often cost-prohibitive for many small businesses. Cisco’s hybrid solution, consisting of an agent embedded in a small network appliance and a secure cloud service, is aimed squarely at VARs that provide managed services to small businesses. These companies often lack dedicated IT staff and tend to depend on part-time IT people or external contractors to manage IT. With scarce resources typically stretched thin, small businesses are often unable to keep up with the demands of routine technology management–let alone support growth goals with new technology solutions.

At the same time, many VARs are looking for ways to quickly and efficiently offer remote management services to their small business customers, and the ability to provide more proactive guidance and management advice.

Figure 1: Cisco OnPlus – Comprehensive IT Infrastructure Management for Small Businesses

Source: SMB Group, January 2012

 Cisco OnPlus gives VARs an efficient way to expand their managed service offerings through remote management and visibility into the customer  network and the devices attached to the network. VARs simply plug the OnPlus Network Agent appliance into a switch or router on the customer’s network, and the OnPlus Agent then transmits information about the customer’s network and all connected devices to a secure data center for access by the VAR (see figure 2). Native apps for Apple and Android mobile devices are available for free from those companies’ app stores. The VARs have the flexibility to define their own business model for using OnPlus.  Some  will add additional fees based on their coverage and response times. Others will use OnPlus to enhance their service capabilities without additional charges to their customers.  In addition, VARs can use OnPlus as a tool to accelerate pre-sale assessments with prospective customers.

Figure 2: Cisco OnPlus Solution Service Data and Communications Flow

Source: Cisco, 2011

Cisco OnPlus appliance discovers Cisco and third-party devices with an IP address connected to the network and displays them in topology and inventory views. Partners can access a real-time view of customer networks from anywhere, through a highly secure portal using a PC, tablet, or mobile device. VARs work with small businesses to define and customize alert thresholds. Through OnPlus, VARs can also provide small businesses with automated reports of all the activity and tasks performed on the network.

Pricing is $250 (approx.  $7 per month, after typical discounts), which includes a three-year OnPlus subscription and the network agent appliance that is installed at the customer site. The OnPlus service from Cisco is available now in U.S. and Canada, with a rollout in Europe and Asia planned for 2012.

Quick Take

Cisco OnPlus delivers cost-efficient scalable IT management and peace of mind that small businesses need without sacrificing the local VAR that many SMBs want to do business with. On the VAR side, it provides a fast, efficient way to onboard customers into a managed service practice, provide more proactive services, and provide more efficient service to more small businesses customers.  With the advantages, Cisco OnPlus should be very attractive to Cisco VARs and enable Cisco to make significant inroads in the small business segment.

That said, Cisco OnPlus can significantly strengthen its story by:

  • Offering additional functionality in the areas of IT asset utilization and management (both hardware and software) to support compliance
  • Providing additional performance management solutions
  • Making it an extensible solution so that VARs can easily add additional value-added solutions like remote backup, Infrastructure on-demand, and business continuity services
  • Help VARs position and demonstrate the value of OnPlus as a comprehensive IT infrastructure management solutions vs. a network management solution
  • Demand generation marketing to educate small businesses about the benefits of managed services

However, Cisco continues to invest in and develop solutions for small business, and OnPlus provides strong evidence that Cisco understands both small business pain points and how to create solutions that provide clear benefits to its partners. Cisco’s OnPlus should be a big step forward in helping Cisco VARs to move beyond the role of network product suppliers to become more strategic managed service providers.

April 16, 2010

Highlights from Iron Mountain Digital 2.0 Industry Analyst Meeting

Highlights: The overall annual growth in data volumes is beings driven by an increase in unstructured data created by social media and collaboration solutions, mobile solutions and rich media which is leading to much higher costs for information storage and management. This problem is further exasperated as the information creation moves from customer on-premises sources, to now include mobile edge devices and the cloud. SMBs and mid-market enterprises now need to take a much more holistic approach to information management. Driven by the need to support compliance, litigation, business continuity and disaster recovery requirements – SMBs need to carefully consider who they partner with as their trusted guardian of their information considering their need to store, protect, manage and retrieve this information in a virtual world anytime, anywhere, and anyplace.

Quick Take: I’ve been following Iron Mountain for a while, and this was their 3rd. analyst event that I attended. Everyone recognizes Salesforce.com as a cloud solution market leader; I would venture to say that the 2nd biggest cloud solution and services provider is Iron Mountain Digital. Key insights from the conference are:

  • Shift in company focus from Storage-as-a-Service to ‘Integrated Information Management Solutions‘ that is based on a location agnostic strategy – from on-premise to edge to cloud

  • Key Value Propositions to address the customers Total Cost of Ownership/Total Cost of Management of Information include:
    • Help customers reduce their spend and risk in owning / storing their rapidly growing information through policy-based intelligent information storage and access
    • Help customers improve operational efficiencies and reduce their spend in managing their information for use
    • Trusted partner in information management for both physical and electronic records and information, and in bridging from one to the other in terms of document conversion, data restoration, scanning, etc. 

What makes Iron Mountain different?

  • Information management platform with intelligence-driven and policy-enabled applications. This has been enabled through internal development and innovation (Digital Record Center for Compliant Messaging, for example), partnering (Total Email Management Suite, powered by Mimecast), and a carefully crafted acquisition strategy that started with Connected® and LiveVault® for backup to recent acquisitions that include Stratify® for eDiscovery and Mimosa for archiving.
  • Unique capabilities
    to “look into” and “look across” information
    . This will help with categorization of data – even at the point of creation – to enable intelligent access, compliance (including risk management), discovery, recovery, destruction and other potential use cases

  • Trusted partner who is financially strong. There are several companies offering remote backup solutions, and hosted email archiving, including you local VAR. But will these companies be around when you need the information 10-20 years from now for compliance purposes or to support litigation?
     What is still missing? Iron Mountain is accumulating a good war chest for location-agnostic information management solutions. They do have global relationships with large enterprise and upper mid-market companies – developed as the dominant leader in the physical information management services business that includes the storage of paper documents and magnetic tape storage media for backup and archiving purposes. They serve the SMB market through some core services, through direct and indirect channels. However, in my opinion, there is a larger opportunity in the SMB and core mid-market that includes:

    • Backup and archiving to support daily operations for desktops, servers and mobile devices
    • Backup and archiving to support business continuity and disaster recovery
    • Information management to support risk and compliance management
    • Virtualization of servers and desktops, and cloud computing is creating new and unique information creation and management opportunities which need to be addressed. The vendors that address these solutions (on public clouds based solutions) will be in the unique position to provide the services that Iron Mountain Digital 2.0 is seeking to provide. 

The first mover vendors will gain tremendous benefits, as these solution partnerships are now easy to replace – Iron Mountain can attest to this with their decade-long relationships with a large percentage of their customers. Iron Mountain needs to craft an SMB and core mid-market strategy with a more aggressive go-to-market plan than what I see at present.


 

March 18, 2010

Dell’s New Vostro 3000 Laptops: Designed for Small Businesses

Filed under: Blogs - Sanjeev Aggarwal, Channels, Infrastructure, mid-market, Small Business, SMB — Tags: , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 5:04 pm

The realities of a lingering recession and a do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos continue to frame today’s economic climate. As entrepreneurs and small businesses went into financial shock beginning in mid-2008, they hunkered down and made do with older laptops (the dominant computing platform for these businesses) and other hardware instead of spending precious cash on new equipment. But with hints of a slow recovery in the offing, these older, over-extended laptops may not be up to the task of helping to support these businesses as they prepare for new business opportunities,

Consequently, Dell’s introduction of its new Vostro 3000 family could not be more timely. As credit markets begin to thaw, and business prospects look more encouraging, small business interest in taking advantage of the power of Microsoft Windows 7 and Intel’s next generation i5 and i7 processors is growing. With the 3000 series, Dell has put a lot of energy into meeting the needs of small businesses.

The Dell’s Vostro 3000 line offers:

  • Affordable pricing. Prices for smaller-sized systems begin under $649, while the larger 17″ systems start at $798, making them affordable for small businesses on tight budgets.
  • Flexible service and support
    options. Small businesses lack the IT resources to service and support these systems. If even one key executive’s laptop is down, the business suffers. Dell provides a range of service solutions, from phone support to ProSupport, which includes a dedicated, single point of contact, and next day onsite support in most instances. Based on my own personal experience with Dell ProSupport service, I would rate it as an industry best and would not hesitate to recommend it to small businesses for mission critical executive and power user laptops.
  • Data and access security. Freefall sensors are standard on all Vostro laptops. These sensors detect if the laptop is in a state of free fall, and park the head of the disk drive to prevent a head crash and resulting data loss upon impact on the ground. Businesses can also select optional features such as fingerprint readers and hard drive encryption for added protection. These security features help protect loss of business critical data in the event of accidents, loss, theft or unauthorized system access.
  • Data backup. When was the last time you backed-up your laptop? Though many of us are loathe to admit it, most small businesses fail to back up their laptops consistently and regularly. Viruses, accidental file deletion, disk crashes, etc. can irreparably compromise data. Dell’s DataSafe online backup is an easy way to ensure mission critical laptops will get backed up.
  • Connectivity. Many very small businesses only use a wireless network in the office and home office. The Vostro 3000 family laptops support a full range of connectivity options, including 802.11g/n wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and mobile broadband.
  • Fresh design and features. The Vostro 3000 series offers entrepreneurs sleek yet rugged styling, with aluminum shells in an updated choice of colors. The line-up also features webcams and microphones for videoconferencing in all models, and strong graphics capabilities.

Summary

Overall, Dell’s Vostro 3000 family provides a stylish, sturdy and affordable choice of laptops that address key small business requirements, affordability, service and support, security, data backup and connectivity.

However, Vostro 3000 products are currently available only from the Dell.com website. While Dell regularly emails and snail mails Dell Small Business newsletters and product brochures, and Internet research can provide a lot of good information, this doesn’t meet the needs of small business owners that like to physically see and touch products before they buy them. These customers—and there are many of them–are more comfortable shopping at retail stores like BestBuy and Staples, where Dell’s consumer laptops are available—but no Vostros.

To reach a broader small business market, Dell needs to supplement its direct model with a strong presence for its small business solutions at the retail outlets that small business owners and office managers frequent.

January 20, 2010

Intuit and Microsoft – two SMB market leaders partnering on cloud platform strategies to deliver web applications

This agreement provides an end-to-end applications development environment and marketing/sales channels for application developers to develop and market application solutions to small businesses. Key elements of the agreement include:

  • Broadening the applications developer community to develop SMB focused applicationsIntuit to provide a SDK to help developers build applications on Microsoft Windows Azure Platform (and Visual Studio) and federate these web applications into Intuit Partner Platform (IPP) and launch these applications through the Intuit App Center (IAC).
  • Expand channel for application developers to promote and market their applications – Business Productivity Online Suite into Intuit Partner Platform (IPP) by year-end – Salesforce.com’s Force.com PaaS platform. Microsoft and Intuit will join forces to expand channels for application developers by introducing them to IAC. With capabilities to buy and access these cloud-based applications from the IAC and support for single sign-on will make it easier for SMBs to use these applications.
  • Microsoft to integrate Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) is a set of messaging and collaboration solutions hosted by Microsoft, and consists of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online. SMBs that use BPOS will have access to Intuit’s SMB focused business applications like QuickBooks and additional applications available through the IAC.

This relationship is focused on the U.S., the region where Intuit has majority of its presence. Microsoft and Intuit will support joint marketing programs targeted at the applications developers, channels and SMB companies.

In today’s fast-paced and volatile business climate, SMB need cloud-based application as they provide much better total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to on-premise installed applications. This relationship will provide significant benefits to SMBs that have shown increasing appetite to adopt cloud based solutions. The key benefits to the SMB community from this relationship are:

  • For Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform service (PaaS), the Intuit relationship is a key endorsement of Microsoft as a key player in the SMB segment and of a company that has a good understanding of how to work with application developers. This combination will provide good competition to the
  • With Microsoft withdrawing from the small business accounting application area, creates a much more favorable partnership environment between the two companies to collaborate on the applications and channels front. A cooperative relationship between these two SMB focused companies will yield tremendous benefits to the SMB community.
  • With more than four million Intuit’s QuickBooks customers, the Inuit App Center will present a very attractive opportunity for applications developers to showcase their applications to the QuickBooks user community.

October 4, 2009

Could Video Conferencing become the SMB segment ‘Killer App’ ? At least Cisco thinks so with the Tandberg acquisition!

Good move by Cisco. The key beneficiary of Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg will be the SMB and mid-market. Cisco already has video Telepresence solutions. However, these Telepresence solutions are primarily enterprise solutions – way beyond the affordability of the SMB (1-499 employees) or the mid-market enterprises (500-1000 employees). Both segments together are referred to as SMB in this blog.

The SMBs and vendors (that service this segment) are rapidly comprehending the business value and short-term ROI that Video Conferencing solutions offer. The global SMB video conferencing solutions and services market opportunity is around $150M in 2010 and forecasted to grow at an annual rate of around 9%. The SMB segment purpose built, cost effective, standards based solutions (from vendors like Tandberg and Polycom) coupled with rapidly declining prices of high throughput network bandwidth are now making the SMB video conferencing market very interesting.

In my 2 previous blogs, I have addresses the market opportunity for these solutions and vendors that provide solutions: Video Conferencing Solution – Now Affordable by the SMBs, SMB’s turning to Conferencing Solutions in tough economic times

Tandberg has an extensive video conferencing solutions family purpose built for the SMB market. With the introduction of the Quick Set C20 solutions, they have priced these solutions more in-line with what the SMB market can afford. What Tandberg lacked was a channel that could sell and service the SMB market – hence, not much of a installed base.

What does Tandberg bring to the Cisco-Tandberg party?

  • A complete set of video conferencing solutions for the SMB market that are standards based
    • Personal, desktop to conference room based video conferencing solutions
    • Desktop video conferencing phone with E20 and the MPX desktop solutions
    • PC based video conferencing with Movi
    • Conference room based solutions from standard def. to HD with the Quick Set C20
  • Almost no product overlap between Cisco and Tandberg in the SMB segment
  • The recent acquisition of Nortel Enterprise Div. by Avaya makes them the market leader in the SMB IP Communications segment. Cisco’s differentiation for these products was diminishing. Adding video conferencing to the Cisco product portfolio will provide the required differentiation.

What does Cisco bring to the Cisco-Tandberg party?

The Cisco/Tandberg pairing will open-up opportunities for Polycom to work with vendors such as Avaya, Nortel, HP (a Tandberg partners) – as they compete with Cisco in the SMB segment.

Cisco’s strength in integrating some of the SMB segment based acquisitions has been less than stellar, especially in the collaboration area. Acquisition such as WebEx, Jabber, PostPath have lost the momentum they once possessed before the Cisco acquisition. Hopefully Cisco will do a better job integrating Tandberg.

One private company (which is a partner of Tandberg) that will make a good acquisition target for Cisco is Broadsoft. They could provide Cisco the push and presence with the global service providers for hosted VoIP and Unified Communications solutions that Cisco currently lacks or are not much of a competitor.

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July 31, 2009

Prognosis on SAP’s Business ByDesign – SaaS based ERP solution for the core mid-market

Filed under: Blogs - Sanjeev Aggarwal, Business Applications, Channels, Cloud Computing, Cloud Computing Platform, mid-market, SaaS, salesforce.com, SMB, SMB strategy, TCO — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 6:03 pm

I came across a good analysis on some aspects of SaaS vs. on-premise vendors and solutions in the smoothspan post Why Do SaaS Companies Lose Money Hand Over Fist?

After reading through the post and various responses, I have some comments that could shed more light on the SaaS vs. on-premise topic and how this relates to SAP’s continued focus on Business ByDesign.

Reviewing the above, including good reviews from the current customers of Business ByDesign, it would be prudent for SAP not to scale back efforts on the roll-out of Business ByDesign – as strategy they have consistently communicating to the market.

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July 22, 2009

Avaya-Nortel will prove to be a formidable competitor for Cisco in the SMB Voice & Unified Communications Market

Filed under: avaya, Blogs - Sanjeev Aggarwal, Channels, Cisco, IP Communications, mid-market, nortel, SMB, SMB strategy, UC, unified communications, Voice Communications, VoIP — Tags: , , , , , , , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 10:56 pm

Avaya will be runaway market share leader in the SMB and Mid-Market Voice Communications Segment with the purchase of Nortel Enterpriser Solution business

Avaya has been in heavy competition with Cisco for the SMB and Mid-Market Unified Communications market, with Cisco steadily gaining market share in the SMB IP-communication segment. However, the combined Avaya-Nortel will position them with roughly twice the market share in the worldwide SMB market – close to 30%, almost 2X of Cisco.

Sure there is product overlap between Avaya and Nortel SMB and mid-market products on the TDM and IP telephony side. However, the Nortel BCM product line is very strong and appealing to the SMB sector. Avaya has no products on the data networking side.

Avaya has been facing problems competing with Cisco on the IP-Telephony side, as Cisco can address both the IP-telephony side and the data networking product requirements of this market segment. Now that Nortel enterprise solutions include a strong data network portfolio – WLAN, secure routers, wireless access points, firewalls, etc.; Avaya will be able to offer a much more complete and competitive solution to the SMB market.

In addition to the products, Nortel will bring Avaya:

The current tough economic conditions have prompted SMB to somewhat slow-down the rate of migration from TDM to IP based voice communications and unified communication solutions. As the economy improves in 2010 and SMB’s again start to review their migration to IP-based solutions – the Avaya-Nortel combination will present a much stronger competitive front to Cisco.

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June 10, 2009

Video Conferencing Solution – Now Affordable by the SMBs

Filed under: Channels, Collaboration, Conferencing, mid-market, SMB strategy, video — Tags: , , , , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 10:06 pm

As the on-premise systems now support reservationless On-demand conferencing, they let employees hold impromptu meeting, without pre-scheduling these meetings – allowing them to collaborate when they need to, with whomever they need to, provided both parties have access to compatible video conferencing systems.

Vendors are recognizing the market opportunity and value of video conferencing solutions for the SMB market and are making available systems that are affordable and easy-to-install/ use/manage because SMBs typically don’t have the IT staff to support these solution. In some instances these solutions can be managed remotely by VARs and service providers. However, they are still a ways away from a price that will explode mainstream adoption in the global SMB markets.

Video conferencing solutions fall in three broad categories:

Video conferencing solutions vendors are now developing products and solutions designed specifically for the SMB and mid-market. These systems are easy-to-use and priced appropriately for this market segment. Polycom’s QDX6000 system is now available for under $4,000. The QDX6000 is a full featured SMB product that offers high resolution DVD quality video room-based video conferencing solution that has low-bandwidth requirements. A these price points, SMBs can pay for the systems by reducing travel expenses – reduction of 2-3 business trips can now pay for these solutions providing short-term ROI.

Video conferencing solutions are leading to more frequent meetings between distributed workers (and in several cases with outsourcing partners), and providing improved productivity by speeding product development by helping teams triage and resolve problems faster. This is especially true for SMBs that sales and development office in the U.S., outsourced software development locations in India, and outsourced manufacturing in China and Latin America.

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