Previously thought of as a large enterprise issue, hosted services are becoming an SME concern

"I THINK ANY COMPANY, regardless of size, should be benefiting from managed services," says , MD of Xepa Consulting.

He says although it has the reputation of being a large enterprise arena only, SMEs can derive a lot of benefit from managed and hosted services.

"I believe that regardless of the size, a managed service can add lots of value. Larger corporations have been benefiting from these services, and SMEs can too." Sometimes, he explains, SMEs can benefit even more, because they can gain access to technologies that were previously prohibitively expensive.


In the arena of hosted services, Francis says Xepa is seeing an upsurge in hosted e-mail. "Companies are looking at outsourcing e-mail, rather than having on-premise servers." People are also doing it to take advantage of cloud computing, he explains.

To provide mail services, Xepa uses Google Apps. "All the services are sitting out in the cloud," he says.

Not only are companies outsourcing their e-mail services, but also their e-mail archiving. "We`ve been speaking to a number of customers where they are finding it more expensive and difficult to manage the escalation of storage capacity for e-mail."

He says: "I had a meeting with a large company recently, talking about how e-mail traffic has increased over the past few years. That company is dealing with 14 000 messages a day, and there is an increase in attachments sent and received. They can`t keep up with the need for storage capacity."

He mentions that e-mail archiving is important for legal purposes. "It`s become law for government departments to retain e-mails for a number of years."

Another aspect of outsourcing, explains Francis, is IT infrastructure. "A lot of companies are looking at outsourced infrastructure. It`s very important to manage that service." SMEs consider this because many don`t have the money to invest in their infrastructures, or the IT experience to maintain it. There is an increase in SMEs that choose to outsource all aspects of their IT, he says. "I`m seeing a lot more SMEs going that route...

"SMEs require total outsourcing. For them it`s about outsourcing the entire IT service, from high level of consulting or strategy, all the way down to service/desktop support. SMEs look at technology in its entirety and outsource that. Large corporations would rather just outsource components of these."


For one client, Xepa even fulfils the CIO role. "We would sit in on board meetings," he explains, and help the company strategise IT.

"Small companies are realising that using technology is important if they want to reach their business goals. Making a big investment in it is quite important, but they don`t want to go to the extent of hiring somebody because the company is not all that big. It makes more sense to them to outsource that service."

Xepa has a team of 12 users, Francis says. "We are an SME ourselves. We also use cloud and hosted services."

And is there anything out of reach? Anything that cannot be scaled down to the SME level?

"I can`t think of anything that would not be scalable. So, quick answer: no."

Tags: Leadership