I was reading the post Small Business Virtualization and that really got me thinking about Small to Medium Businesses and what part Cloud Computing will play in that market. There are plenty of small businesses in and around my area and I have a couple of friends that are the owners of a couple of these small businesses. A majority of these small businesses have a single or a couple of point of sale machines that feed to the accounting program. It is these businesses that I think of when I think of what a small business is. Would virtualization help these companies? Sure, I think so but would it really be worth the cost to setup and maintain?
VMware and Microsoft approach the Small to Medium companies quite differently, but which product to buy often depends on your business needs vs cost of the products. However, there needs to be at least one major distinction: SMB vs SME.
The Small to Medium Business (SMB) is quite a bit different than the growing number of Small to Medium Enterprises (SME), and VMware knows this does Microsoft or Citrix?
I wonder how many of us remember when VMware bought BlueLane and their technology, good things were promised, we saw the first part with the release of vSphere when they introduced vShield Zones. This was a “Free” product for those of you that had any version above Advanced vSphere and to be fair for a 1.0 release was a nice weapon to have in your armoury when dealing with the Security during a design and implementation phase.
At VMworld 2010 San Francisco VMware announced and released the expanded and improved vShield family of products. it however now a costed product, now the good news is that vShield Zones been not been removed from the vSphere suite, and are still “Free” the the correctly licensed level of vSphere.
The most recent Virtualization Security Podcast was on the subject of virtualization security for the SMB. Specifically cover the case where the customer wanting virtualization security could afford to purchase a hypervisor and perhaps one other security product. In the end the panelists came up with a list of suggestions for virtualization security for the SMB that are applicable to all levels of Virtualization. The panel looked at SMB security with an eye towards Availability, Integrity, and Confidentiality.
Whilst new SMBs may be dabbling with online application suites, the bulk of the established SMB workload, however, is done in desktop applications, typically Microsoft Office, running in various flavours of Windows with a Windows Server. This is definitely not in the cloud, and there are lots of very good reasons why it won’t be, and less radical solutions are likely to offer more benefit.
Small Businesses live by there online presence these days specifically during the holiday shopping season. Many small business also do not have the IT staff to maintain such a presence with the agility required when problems occur. In addition, they may also lack the basic management, networking, security, and storage knowledge to properly maintain this online presence internally, so they move their systems into hosting environments as virtual or physical machines or into the cloud. This begs the question of what service level such SMBs require?