Look To Core Needs To Boost Small-Business Sales

Sometimes wading through those choices can only complicate things, but 66 percent of those solution providers polled have settled on Microsoft's Small Business Server 2003 as their primary platform. Linux-based solutions are a distant second with just 16 percent of the market.

Most small businesses require a mix of proven solutions and new technologies.

Small businesses tend to have specialized needs and focus on core services for business enablement. For example, 47 percent of solution providers polled say electronic communications—including e-mail, instant messaging and VoIP—are the primary driver for their small-business customers.

With external connectivity driving 80 percent of the market, the need for security becomes a major concern. Indeed, 58 percent of those polled secure their customers with a hardware firewall or security appliance, while 21 percent rely just on desktop software security solutions—such as antivirus, software firewalls—to protect their clients. Surprisingly, MSP-based security has not yet caught on in the small-business market, with just 1 percent of those polled offering that as an option.

One can't talk security without thinking about backup. The majority of solution providers—57 percent—are selecting tried-and-true traditional backup software, while 28 percent are relying on disk-to-disk-based solutions. Just 2 percent are going the MSP route when it comes to backup.

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When one takes into consideration the needs of the small-business market and looks at the results of this survey, it becomes clear that most of the solutions offered combine proven solutions with new technology. With networking handled by Microsoft's SBS 2003, security enabled with a firewall, and backup driven by traditional backup software, it becomes clear how solution providers are meeting their small-business customers' primary needs.

The additional opportunity for solution providers is to leverage MSP solutions, which can provide ongoing revenue for solution providers hawking those services.