Colin Smith posted a blog of the same title as this one on Tech Republic today. You can view the post HERE. As it relates to small business, Mr. Smith got one thing absolutely right - cloud computing provides a small business affordable access to IT resources on a scale unimaginable in the past. From the aspect of a small business managed service provider, I would like to point out a couple of cloud computing truths that he missed.
First of all, the small business managed service provider's value-add does not necessarily become eroded. The managed service provider must, however, transform him or herself into a "performance improvement" strategist as well as an IT guru. The managed service provider must provide value-add by assessing the IT needs of the small business and implementing cloud services to meet those needs. And, this process should be ongoing. Most of us who have spent any time supporting the IT needs of small business know they can benefit greatly from the new scale of IT services at their disposal. In addition (and I know my fellow small business managed service providers can relate to this), small business owners and decision makers must be gently led, by the hand, into the new "cloud paradigm" and the new paradigm must be simple.
Second - Simplicity is key! Mr. Smith cites the Microsoft BPOS/Office365 example in his post, but when it comes to simple Google Apps for Business is king. Google Apps provides all of the large scale IT resources the vast majority of small businesses need. Granted there are some small businesses whose processes might require the complexity of Sharepoint but, from my experience, those are few and far between. Google Sites and Docs usually meet collaboration and work flow requirements with a much greater degree of simplicity.
My Geeks On Call franchise in Charleston SC is both a Google Apps and Microsoft Online services reseller. When we assess the IT/performance needs of a small business, we find Google Apps is very hard to beat when it comes to features and the simplicity it provides.