SMBs have been exposed to the risk of unwanted intrusions due to increased utilization of the Internet as a business and e-commerce tool. AMI studies reveal that total spending on security solutions among SMBs is expected to grow 25 to 30 percent annually in developed countries worldwide.
The traditional SMB focus on anti-virus solutions is beginning to expand toward other security measures such as intrusion detection, VPNs, firewalls, remote data backup, remote network security management and spam control. AMI estimates a healthy 41 percent increase in the number of SMBs worldwide deploying VPNs over the next 12 months.
5) Availability of scaled-down storage solutions will prompt investments among SMBs
Interestingly, SMBs account for only 20 percent of all storage spending while representing 40 percent of all IT spending. The slower adoption and lower spending is primarily due to the high costs and complexity involved with implementing storage solutions. However, with increased security needs, compliance regulations and archiving needs, this is poised to change in 2004.
There has always been a need for storage in the SMB space, but the availability of cost-effective solutions has been fairly scarce. With the emergence of iSCSI or IP SAN protocols, SMBs have been taking advantage of storage solutions, thanks to lower costs and fewer internal resources required for these technologies. AMI expects storage spending to increase approximately 18 to 20 percent in the SMB space over the next few years.
6) SMBs liberated by wireless solutions
Wireless usage is exploding in the SMB arena, resulting from an increased need for businesses to stay connected with a growing number of remote sites and mobile employees. According to AMI research, 1.21 million U.S. SMBs have branch offices. Data and communication must flow effectively within and among these offices.
Furthermore, with one-half of U.S. SMBs having mobile employees, these businesses are recognizing the inherent need for wireless technology to facilitate staff connectivity with the home office. Wireless technology enables businesses to keep in contact with remote locations while simplifying the management of inter-office moves and aiding smooth employee relocations.
With the drastic fixed-cost savings of wireless over Ethernet Cabling, coupled with the proliferation of wireless hotspots and thriving Wi-Fi adoption, AMI predicts that the number of U.S. SMBs with a wireless LAN will increase 28 percent in 2004.
7) VoIP gaining ground among SMBs worldwide
Due to the increase in globalization, SMBs are engaging in more offshore activities and, consequently, spending more time and money on international calls. AMI-Partners estimates that 36 percent of total Telecom spending for U.S. SMBs goes toward long-distance charges.
Despite the steady rise in international calling activity, the new millennium has seen a decrease in total long-distance spending among SMBs from $29.9 billion to $25.9 billion. Part of that decline reflects SMBs embracing IP telephony. In efforts to reduce variable costs, without impacting organizational efficiencies, 130,000 U.S. SMBs adopted VoIP and another 110,000 SMBs plan to do so in the next 12 months. As equipment prices continue to fall, VoIP adoption and usage will gain momentum in the SMB space.
8) LINUX is making strides in the SMB space
The price-sensitive SMB market will make a significant move toward embracing LINUX, not only because of the low total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits that can be realized, but also because of its reliability and stability, an area that SMBs attach utmost importance to due to the lack of internal IT resources, AMI said.
In the United States alone, more than 165,000 SMBs have already embraced LINUX and AMI studies reveal an adoption rate increase over the next 12 months. Moreover, widespread LINUX acceptance by large enterprises and government agencies, in countries such as Germany, France, China, India, Brazil and Mexico, gives smaller firms added assurance that the open-source platform offers more benefits than risks.
SMBs can take heart from the likes of major industry players such as IBM, HP and Computer Associates, in addition to e-commerce companies like Amazon who have declared large savings and overall benefits by adopting LINUX.