Following analysis of a recent research project of 250 UK-based SMEs, and in light of wider market conditions and technical innovation, it is expected that the majority of UK small to mid-sized organisations will be adopting and maintaining a hybrid approach to their IT.

Sixty-nine percent of organisations claim to use at least one cloud service, however, only 12% of firms today believe they can put everything in the cloud, meaning the vast majority will remain in a hybrid state for the foreseeable future.

As a result of the assessment, I have outlined the top five considerations I believe that the SMB will face in 2014 when looking at upgrading or refreshing infrastructure or investing in new IT capabilities which are as follows:

  1.  Hybrid IT Will Increase As The Defacto Status

As such, a key consideration for any SMB is ensuring that they can manage their IT as a whole, and therefore, capabilities for monitoring and management of IT operations become more critical in delivering an end-to-end service and will encourage more organisations to adopt IT as a managed service.

  1.  Desktop Refresh Advances Cloud Productivity

The approaching end-of-life of desktop technologies such as Windows XP and Office 2003 will add impetus to the migration of traditional PC workloads to cloud services like Microsoft’s Office 365 where new economies of scale and collaboration can be achieved.

  1.  Server Refresh Still Supports Local IT Capability

The approaching end-of-life of older operating systems and solutions such as Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft’s Small Business Server will drive a review and refresh of IT server infrastructure in the SMB sector, with many opting to retain critical services like Credentials (e.g. Active Directory), Print Management and File Management on-premise as a central service.

  1.  Bandwidth Dictates Location Of Services

Whilst we see the sensitivity of data location easing slightly in the UK, it is the constraints on Internet bandwidth for many SMBs that will continue to dictate where application workloads will be run, i.e. where it is most optimal for the organisation. Those with primarily office based staff will continue core services on premise to gain LAN speed access, whilst those with more remote staff will favour cloud services (and the reality is a mix will be true in most cases).

  1.  Cloud Favours Delivery Of Managed Services

With cash flow pressure still on staffing levels and capital expenditure, and the increasing track record of cloud based service delivery models, the opportunity for an SMB to adopt IT solutions as a managed, OpEx priced, service are increasing and shaping the evolution of the supply chain with a new breed of IT Service Provider.

The UK has a fantastic technical heritage which has continued with the design, delivery and adoption of cloud-based services across all segments of the market. An important reality check that we see today is that cloud is not just a concept for remote hosting, but also needs to encompass the services still operated on-premise and, as such, hybrid IT is the new norm for the foreseeable future.

SMBs have an increased opportunity in the face of infrastructure refreshes to embrace change and drive further competitive advantage and operational efficiency by accessing managed cloud services both on-premise and remotely served.