cloud computing Global spending on cloud computing topped US$110 billion in 2012

The model of tapping software (and even hardware) over the Internet for a fee rather than buying and storing it on your own machines is quickly taking hold. As more companies make the shift, opportunities will abound for entrepreneurs offering to ease that process, especially in these four areas:

1. Private cloud hosting

: One of the main worries about the cloud is security. Xinfosystems, a Toronto IT company that offers private cloud services to clients requiring ultra-secure transactions and storage, has tapped into those concerns. One of its selling points is that, being based in Canada, it isn't subject to the U.S. Patriot Act. "If your company is using a U.S.-based [cloud services] provider, the U.S. govern- ment has the authority to look at anything that is stored on its servers," says president Martin Adler.

2. Infrastructure support

: Using cloud services lowers a company's need for internal tech support, but cloud providers themselves require round-the- clock support, as well as secure facilities for storing their servers.

3. SaaS consulting

: With an ever-expanding array of SaaS options, companies need assistance in making the right choices. This creates opportunities for companies like SaaS Markets of California, which in November launched Appclick Canada. "We help [SMEs] find the app that does what they want within their budget," says CEO Ferdi Roberts.

4. Mentoring

: Once a client has made the switch, ongoing tracking of usage— which apps and how much—is key for maximizing ROI.

Read more from PROFIT's 2013 Opportunity Guide

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