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Talking about SMB’s, cheapseats, club class and enterprise grade

Thinking of VMware’s dominance in server virtualization made me wonder how the company approaches small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and it occurred to me that the focus is really on enterprises. Are SMBs an afterthought for VMware? No, says VMware but yes, say analysts and SMBs. Given that VMware has only begun to focus in this broad area, with any serious effort, in the past year or so, it makes one wonder. My best guess is that VMware has begun to feel pressure from Microsoft and Citrix to make a server virtualization product lineup available that fits better into the SMB market than its standard vSphere products do. It’s about time.

An interesting article talking about VMware needing to focus on the SMB space. What we’re finding with cloud, with the internet is the disintermediary effect of transparency. I’m now working in a world where a google search for web design puts me instantly in touch with everyone from the world class design ageny through to Terrance who’s good, not brilliant but crucially good enough with wordpress to get me online, looking industrial grade and functional using appropriate technologies to drive my business.

There are enough service providers, open networks and communities offering a vast range of services and solutions to your business, increasingly therefore there are three demographics

  • Cheapseats – where we compete on price, or go open source and pay for the support or service we need
  • Club class – where my cost of doing business mandates an industry standard solution to deliver my business goals
  • Enterprise grade – where what matters is always on, never-fail, seemless, zero data loss, all the buzz words to indicate that my ATM never stops serving cash (the G4 van delivers the cash, the ATM line is on, the application is up), through to the Point-Of-Sale thing scanning and submitting my payment request through my intermediaries to transfer cash or seek payment approval.

What’s changing is two-fold, increasingly the cheapseats and club class are integrating, what the cheapseats can offer is actually good enough, with gmail, free email I get 10GB of email space. Enterprise grade might be 150MB, or 500MB, is it therefore Enterprise grade email I need or something that is good enough. Interestingly in the Enterprise level the business and the engaged IT teams are looking at how we do IT and asking the question is that what we need, is this good enough? If we take the simple level do I need teamed network card – in my life how many network cards have failed, I can remember about 7 events, in 13 years – so what therefore is the marginal cost of a network card failure to my business? Are we investing on two of every switch, two network cables end to end, and two network cards for a 7 in 13 year event issue being an issue? Crucially as start-ups come along that can do everything we need at a price point we need without the baggage, enterprises need to have one foot in keeping the lights on, living by the olden days infrastructure and applications whilst launching new applications for new and existing markets to keep connected to their consumers, most importantly, relevant and integral to their lifestyles.

When it comes to VMware and the SMB, just like it does to Dell to HP or any other service or hardware provider. Your first product, the first server, the first download is that customers’ gateway to your business. That MicroServer is your gateway to the cloud, the device which can cache your data locally and then link you to the cloud for new and exciting enterprise grade services, an online store, a SharePoint or wiki, the accounts or human resources products you need. Increasingly it’s not about virtualization, what hardware you use as so much as it is about how your business can be the broker to me achieving my business outcomes, more revenue, more sales, more stuff to allow me to target consumers and opportunities across regions, sectors and markets. I want the VMware, HP and Dell’s of this world to be not only my technology provider, but my business partner, my IT, the broker and innovator that comes along and says hey you know your client database shall we shove that through our analytics tool and see how we can derive or identify more opportunities for your business. Not selling tin. Not selling services, but helping me reach my business goals and helping me run my IT as I would run my business, this combined from a range of cheapseats, club class and enterprise grade tools and services.

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