Popular opinion holds that cloud computing is a technology area dominated by large enterprises, with a few brave SMBs dipping their toes in and the rest hanging back to see how things develop this year. However, at least one set of data contradicts this belief. Recent research from hosting and cloud services software provider Parallels indicates that SMBs are actually leading the way when it comes to cloud adoption.

According to Parallels data, the US SMB cloud market grew 25% during 2011, increasing to $15.1 billion USD. In addition, SMBs on the “small” end with fewer than 20 employees are at least three times more likely to choose cloud services than on-premise services, and SMBs plan to double the amount of paid cloud applications they purchase in the next three years, with size of SMB determining which applications are critical.

Specifically, micro and small SMBs seek cloud apps like backup, file sharing and accounting and e-mail achieving; while medium-sized businesses are seeking solutions like phone conferencing services. In other cloud-related news, SMBs are starting to move beyond basic web services, with 45% of US SMBs now managing a page on the cloud-based Facebook social network to promote their services.

MSPs Need to Get Cloudy

MSPs serving the SMB market need to “get cloudy” and move in front of this clear trend for SMBs to adopt cloud technology. Rather than adopting a wait and see approach as SMBs adopt cloud technologies, MSPs should proactively begin offering cloud-based services their customers want now. Parallel’s findings on size-based preferences give some good general direction depending on how big a particular MSP’s SMB clients are; and of course the cloud has always been used as a means of affordably increasing storage with an on-demand model and is also a popular way for a small business to expand its IT enterprise without investing in significant physical infrastructure.

Of course, Parallel has some skin in the SMB cloud game, as the company itself offers SMBs cloud services. To some extent, Parallel may be trying to create its own market. But there is undoubtedly a lot of truth within these findings, and MSPs serving an SMB clientele need to ask themselves if they want to leave the SMB cloud market, whatever its actual size and potential, to Parallel or if they want to carve a piece for themselves.