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In my weekly column this week, “Managing the Mass of Clouds,” I speculated on a new role for solution providers in the cloud computing era; that of manager and advisor on cloud-based applications and services. The premise is simple: small and midsized businesses will come to rely on SAAS and cloud-based services, but won’t have the bandwidth or expertise to manage those relationships. Solution providers could step into the breach and provide SMBs with expert management and advisory services for cloud applications.

The feedback on this column, so far, has been interesting. While solution providers are in agreement that cloud services are becoming increasingly important, there’s a division over whether SMBs will adopt cloud services.

Alex Zaltsman, CEO of TourSport and former partner of Exgient Technologies, writes:

“In my mind there is no reason for a very small business (under 50 employees) to buy and maintain servers. We’re not at the point where on-site servers can be eliminated entirely yet, but I do see the trend – starting with Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint hosting – to reduce servers at these small businesses. VARs who service this market could continue to be “MSPs” – but providing more of a support role and advisory role rather than monitoring IT systems.

Conversely, Chris Smith, president of The Tech Dcotors in Illionis, disagreed with the need for cloud services by SMBs. In feedback he provided, Smith states:

“I think the industry is in for a shock when the SMB space doesn’t go for this! Think about I’m a small business – struggling – not thinking about “Cloud Services” just thinking about making ends meet. They will go to their trusted advisor and find out what is the best way to go.”

So which is it? Is cloud computing the next wave to take over the SMB market or will SMBs continue to rely (and invest in) on-premise solutions?