This week, we look at research from IBM that indicates SMBs will be spending on their cloud and business analytics this year, EMC adds fuel to the data storage market, Intermedia offers SMBs encrypted email while MediaFeedia is looking for some SMB attention with a new social media management tool for Facebook.

IBM Predicts Spending on Cloud, Analytics

According to an IBM (news, site) global study of more than 2,000 midsized companies across 20 countries, more than half of mid-sized companies are planning to increase their information technology (IT) budgets over the next 12 to 18 months.

The research identified analytics, cloud computing, collaboration, mobility and customer relationship solutions as the areas in which these companies will be pumping their money.

Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective -- commissioned by and conducted independently by KS&R -- found that 70% of midsized companies are actively pursuing analytics technology to better understand their customers, make better decisions and become more efficient.

The study also shows growing adoption of cloud computing among mid-size firms with two-thirds either planning or currently deploying cloud-based technologies to improve IT systems management while lowering costs.

Even better again for the IT market -- 53% of respondents expect their IT budgets to increase over the next 12 to 18 months, 31% expect they will remain unchanged and 16% think they will decrease or are unsure. If you’re dealing in the mid-market this is worth downloading.

EMC Launches SMB Data Storage Products

This week, EMC (news, site)  has made further inroads into the SMB market, with the release of a new set of products that includes an economical data storage system that comes in at prices below US$ 10,000.

EMC introduced multiple new storage systems and software features with more than 40 new technologies and products, including new arrays for SMBs, unified systems for the mid-sized enterprises, as well as disk-based backup and recovery and archiving systems.

It has also launched a new Authorized Reseller program for partners of any size -- providing training and resources focused on the new systems labeled VNXe. EMC says that by using its QuickStart training, partners will gain the skills necessary for basic implementation and support services for the VNXe within three hours.

And to prove how simple the systems are to service, EMC brought out a fourth-grader with an iPad to perform maintenance on one of the systems. Nice touch -- maybe -- but are SMBs going to go for it?

RSA Launches Authentication Manager

Meanwhile, RSA (news, site), the security division of EMC, has also been busy with the launch of its announced Authentication Manager Express (AME), its newest authentication solution designed to meet the cost and convenience requirements of SMBs.

RSA has taken the technology used to protect online transactions and adapted it to suit businesses of all sizes including SMBs, who we know from previous reports, can be a little lax when it comes to security.

AME is a risk-based and on-demand authentication system for companies with up to 2,500 employees who want to secure their data and applications and enable access to those systems using SSL Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and online portals.

Using an intelligent risk engine that is virtually invisible to users, security is beefed-up when the engine detects odd behavior that requires users to authenticate their identity before requested actions can take place.

With the spread of cloud computing, you really can’t have enough security, and with more SMBs looking at cloud computing as a real possibility, there‘s a lot of business to be made out of security.

Mediafeedia's New Social Media Mgt Tool

Maybe you missed it during the week, but Mediafeedia (news, site) is looking to lure SMBs with the release of their new social media management tool designed exclusively for Facebook. The free offering enables businesses to manage and publish content on their Facebook pages from one central Web-based location --no downloading necessary.

Here's how it works: Import the Facebook business pages that you currently administer. These pages will then be added to your Mediafeedia dashboard and synchronized with Facebook.

Mediafeedia claims they found social media management tools to be lacking when it comes to Facebook, and though we're inclined to disagree (see MediaFunnel, Apptraq, Webtrends, Sendible, Shoutlet, etc.), there's always room for another free offering -- especially for SMBs. Want to find out more?

LibreOffice’s Full v3.3 Release Offers Office Alternative

And for those with document creation needs, the first full stable release of the Document Foundation’s LibreOffice (news, site) -- a competitor to OpenOffice and Microsoft Office -- has been released as version 3.3 and already looks set to cause a stir.

The release comes after only four months -- and a number of beta editions -- and has seen the number of hackers joining the project grow from less than 20 in September, when the Document Foundation announced the OpenOffice fork, to over 100 as of this week.

Because of the high number of new contributors, the source code for LibreOffice can be cleaned up very quickly so as to build a better foundation for future versions.

The Windows installer has been integrated into a single build, containing all language versions and cutting the download size from 75GBs to 11GBs.

Support for the project is also growing from open source fellow-travelers like Red Hat and Novell, while Ubuntu has announced that in its upcoming release of v11.04 of “Natty Narwhal” it will replace OpenOffice with LibreOffice as its office suite. Check it out here.

Intermedia’s New Email Encryption Product

Microsoft Exchange provider Intermedia (news, site) has launched policy-based Encrypted Email. Encrypted email is available at a click to individual employees looking to secure a specific email -- as well as organizations looking to set and enforce standard encryption policies for email communication.

Intermedia offers two choices in email encryption:

  • Policy-based Encrypted Email: Encrypts emails based on company-wide rules and policies the customer sets up and manages -- all without disrupting day-to-day workflow. With outgoing content filtering, all email content and attachments are automatically scanned to detect whether the message warrants encryption before being sent. No additional software or plug-ins are required.
  • User-level Encrypted Email: Provides end-to-end encryption and enables users to give certain employees or groups additional layers of encryption. Users compose email messages, add any attachments, click the “Secure” button on the plug-in toolbar, set their encryption password and hit “send.”

Both Encrypted Mail solutions are backed by a globally-recognized Certificate of Authority, which ensures the SSL certificate is secure and trusted. All encrypted messages are digitally signed and can be validated to prove compliance as required. Intermedia Encrypted Mail encrypts any MS Office document, .PDF file, image file and almost any other popular file format.