Did you know that essentially what we call the ‘cloud’ has actually been on the market for about 15-20 years now? It’s evolved somewhat but really is not that different from what it first was.

It’s become a buzz word over the past few years but when you break it down, the ‘cloud’ is simply a model of providing services from a centralised location, from a shared platform, to look after the IT needs of small and medium sized businesses and enterprises. The interesting thing is that we’ll now start to see a big shift in the understanding of the true cloud architecture.

In the next 12-18 months we’ll see a strong trend toward creating a true cloud architecture, which will become the foundation of the cloud industry. A true cloud architecture is very different from just provisioning individual services to individual customers. There are the actual commodity cloud services and then there’s the management and service delivery layer that sits on top of that. This layer is what it’s all about.

2018 will bring in a lot of new business from small-to medium sized businesses. However, cloud vendors will need to be prepared and on par with their offerings and services. The top cloud vendors will offer white-labelled, multi-tiered, multi-tenant, securely separated, and management-delegated solutions.

Any who can’t keep up will miss out on new business. Service providers and small to medium-sized business customers will be looking for a solution that allows them to select their own distributors and sub-distributors, resellers and sub-resellers, and has a capacity to create multiple user roles for multiple user departments. This functionality will be a critical service differentiation in the cloud space, especially in the coming months.

These types of developments in the cloud space will create unprecedented opportunities for service providers and small to medium-sized business customers. Service providers will be able to grow their business by packaging and reselling ISV hosted services through existing channel ecosystems, without any capital investment.

Small to medium-sized business customers will continue replacing in-house IT infrastructure with cloud-based services, seizing new opportunities and taking advantage of this type of service consumption.