Small and Medium businesses.  The SMB!  Why are they so important to the market we are in?  Because there are over 50 million of them worldwide.  Who services them and how much money is there to be made in this space?  Some say that the SMB will be the key to recovery from this worldwide recession.

SMBs are not so different from larger enterprises.  They have employees, products, and even computers and software applications.  Just like larger enterprises they have a top line (Revenue) and a bottom line (Profit).  They also have operations costs that come between their top and bottom lines.  Which is where they spend money on things like Information Technology. 

Most SMBs go through plateaus in their growth where they make major decisions about their operations and IT is no exception.  When a company reaches about 99 employees they begin to be faced with a major decision… What am I going to do about all of these information technology issues I have today? This ranges from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Communications (Email and VoIP) to plain old vanilla business productivity applications (Microsoft Office).  The problems begin to occur at this growth period because there are enough software application versions and data repository issues that day-to-day operations could be at risk with any and all disruption caused by IT.  And so, for the most part IT becomes a necessary evil that requires additional outlay of cash to keep it under control. 

But now there are products that come through the “Ether” and don’t require an entire staff of IT professionals to run them.  So when the guy who has to cut the check each month is looking at decreasing profits because he keeps paying for applications to be loaded (and they don’t seem to work together because of a lack of version control or service packs missing or O/S problems) it shouldn’t surprise anybody that he is looking for alternatives.  He keeps hearing about this thing called “Cloud Computing” but can’t quite get his head around how “The Cloud” is going to help him with his bottom line. 

Enter the Citrix Service Provider…  These companies are supplying services to the SMB so that they don’t have to worry about application version control and O/S service packs and additional IT staff.  It’s really kind of funny because I was on the phone with one of our large enterprise customers this week and he told me “what these Citrix Service Providers are doing is exactly how I run my IT group”.  In other words, the Citrix Service Provider is kind of like a co-op for the SMB so that they can get the same economy of scale that a large enterprise gets, only without the encumbrance of a full fledged IT staff.

There is a company in Manchester, U.K. that provides just these types of services… IT Farm.  They’ve got a nifty 90 second demo of just how easy it is to offload all of your IT issues and let someone else deal with it…  Just sign up and overnight you’ve got instant access to all of the applications you want without the worries of having to do-it-yourself.  And they are firm believers that Citrix is the only company on the planet that has the technology to fit their business model.  Dr. James Huntington, the Managing Director at IT Farm had this to say about it… “IT Farm has enjoyed a long lasting relationship with Citrix.  With the advent of the newly developed Citrix Service Provider program, we now have the ability to rapidly expand our base and provide our customers with the best technology on the market for the delivery of applications and desktops.”  With over a hundred SMBs serviced with their offering, thousands of desktops are no longer a problem for the guy who writes the check.

Would you believe that up to twenty percent of the 50 Million SMBs worldwide are at this stage of growth and trying to find companies who will offload their IT… that’s about 10 Million by my count.  So if you’re one of those companies who want to get in the game and become “the Cloud” for the millions of subscribers looking for an alternative, what’s stopping you?  We have the technology if you’ve got the desire!