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Small Medium Business (SMB) IT Continues to Gain Respect, What About SOHO?

I assert that SOHO today is getting the same lack of respect that SMB in general received a decade ago.

Note that in Information Technology (IT) conversations there are multiple meanings for SMB including Server Message Block aka Microsoft Windows CIFS (Common Internet File System) along with its SAMBA implementation, however for this piece the context is Small Medium Business.

A decade or so ago, mention SMB (Small Medium Business) to many vendors, particular those who were either established or focused on the big game enterprise space and you might have gotten a condescending look or answer if not worse.

In other words, a decade ago the SMB did not get much respect from some vendors and those who followed or covered them.

Fast forward to today and many of those same vendors along with their pundits and media followers have now gotten their SMB grove, lingo, swagger or social media footsteps, granted for some that might be at the higher end of SMB also known as SME (Small Medium Enterprise).

Rodney Dangerfield - No Respect via Amazon.com

Today in general the SMB is finally getting respect and in some circles its down right cool and trendy vs. being perceived as old school, stodgy large enterprise. Likewise the Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO) gained more awareness and coverage a few years back which while the ROBO buzz has subsided, the market and opportunities are certainly there.

What about Small Office Home Office (SOHO) today?

I assert that SOHO today is getting the same lack of respect that SMB in general received a decade ago.

IMHO the SOHO environment and market today is being treated with a similar lack of respect that the larger SMB received a decade ago.

Granted there are some vendors and their followings who are seeing the value and opportunity, not to mention market size potential of expanding their portfolios, not to mention routes to markets to meet their different needs of the SOHO.

relative enterprise sme smb soho positioning

What is the SOHO market or environment

One of the challenges with SMB, SOHO among other classifications are just that, the classifications.

Some classificaitons are based on number of employees, others on number of servers or workstations, while others are based on revenue or even physical location.

Meanwhile some are based on types of products, technologies or tools while others are tied to IT or general technology spending.

Some confuse the SOHO space with the consumer market space or sector which should not be a surprise if you view market segments as enterprise, SMB and consumer. However if you take a more pragmatic approach, between true consumer and SMB space, there lies the SOHO space. For some the definitions of what is consumer, SOHO, SMB, SME and enterprise (among others) will be based on number of employees, or revenue amount. Yet for others the categories may be tied to IT spending (e.g. price bands), number of workstations, servers, storage space capacity or some other metric. On the other hand some definitions of what is consumer vs. SOHO vs. SMB vs. SME or enterprise will be based on product capabilities, size, feature function and cost among other attributes.

Storage I/O trends

Understanding the SOHO

Keep in mind that SOHO can also overlap with Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO), not to mention blend with high-end consumer (prosumer) or lower bounds of SMB.

Part of the challenge (or problem) is that many confuse the Home Office or HO aspect of SOHO as being consumer.

Likewise many also confuse the Small Office or SO part of SOHO as being just the small home office or the virtual office of a mobile worker.

The reality is that just as the SMB space has expanded, there is also a growing area just above where consumer markets exist and where many place the lower-end of SMB (e.g. the bottom limits of where the solutions fit).

First keep in mind that many put too much focus and mistakenly believe that the HO or Home Office part of SOHO means that this is just a consumer focused space.

The reality is that while the HO gets included as part of SOHO, there is also the SO or Small Office which is actually the low-end of the SMB space.

Keep in mind that there are more:
SOHO than SMB
SMB than SME
SME than enterprise
F500 (Fortune 500) than F100
F100 than F10 and so forth.

Here is my point

SOHO does not have to be the Rodney Dangerfield of IT (e.g., gets no respect)!

If you jumped on the SMB bandwagon a decade ago, start paying attention to what's going on with the SOHO or lower-end SMB sector. The reasons are simple, just as SMBs can grow up to be larger SMBs or SME or enterprise, SOHOs can also evolve to become SMBs either in business size, or in IT and data infrastructure needs, requirements.

For those who prefer (at least for now) look down upon or ignore the SOHO similar to what was done with SMB before converting to SMBism, do so at your own risk.

However let me be clear, this does not mean ignore or shift focus and thus disrupt or lose coverage of other areas, rather, extend, expand and at least become aware of what is going on in the SOHO space.

Ok, nuff said (for now)

Cheers
Gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.