Defining What the Terms 'Midmarket' and 'Midsize Business' Mean

If you think the word “midmarket” might apply to your company, read on, as we explore the elusive meaning of this widely used (and perhaps misused) term.

As a midmarket marketing guy at Avaya, a major technology company, I’ve found that the definition of midmarket–or even midsize business for that matter–seems to depend on who you talk to and where in the world you live.

Related article: Five Unique Ways that Midsize Firms Deploy Unified Communications

So why should you care? We believe there are several real attributes that are common to midmarket companies. If your technology provider knows how these affect your business, they are likely to recommend solutions that will really meet your needs.

The $10 million+ club

Let’s look at what those who follow the industry space have to say about the midmarket.

In the U.S., The National Center for the Middle Market–a collaboration between Ohio State University and GE Capital–produces a quarterly performance update and economic outlook for companies with annual revenues between $10MM and $1B.

They say that the 197,000 or so businesses that fit this description employ 43 million people and represent one-third of private sector GDP. So, if you fit their description, congratulations! Your company matters to the world economy.

Our next step is to consult the industry analysts, who note that the term ‘SMB’ has an accepted definition.

In Europe, the term SME has been formally defined by the European Union to guide investments, lending, government programs and the like. But when we ask about midmarket, we find varying descriptions – between 250 and 1,000 employees, less than 2,500 employees, and so on. And even if they did agree, what does company size say about how your requirements differ from those of a large enterprise?

One of the analysts we spoke to last fall referred to the midmarket as a “tweener” market–that is, a company-size segment that sits between, on the one end, the SMB, or small to medium-size business market, and the enterprise market.

Just when it seemed like his definition was just like everyone else’s, he continued, saying it was best to think of the market not by company size, but by companies’ technology adoption and support characteristics. Maybe we’re on to something useful…

The analyst then stated that midmarket companies think about technology strategically, much like a large enterprise, and that they have a distributed multi-office profile, much like a large enterprise. Unlike most SMBs, midmarket companies have an IT department, albeit one that is deficient in staff in some areas.

Big staff, small budget

So: Enterprise aspirations, limited IT resources. As I thought about IT resources, I landed on this post in the Spiceworks community

“I am the sole IT Admin for a medium-sized construction contracting business. However, I handle everything from networking, security, help desk, application support, server administration dealing with virtual and non-virtual boxes, managing exchange servers, Website and FTP development, print services, pretty much anything you can think of. I am having trouble putting a label on myself.”

The post generated a flurry of responses. Among several commonly accepted titles, many suggested that rather than calling himself an IT Admin, the writer should refer to himself as a “magician,” “the Doctor,” or “the Maestro.”

Another comment put the entire thread in perspective by saying, “I think most IT people in an environment of 1,000 or so users are probably in your shoes. If it has a plug and people don’t understand it, somehow you are in charge of it.”

For a technology company like Avaya, these perspectives have to inform our development decisions. As we build solutions specifically for the midmarket, they must address enterprise aspirations on a limited budget. More importantly, our solutions must be powerful, yet still fit within a highly complex IT environment simply enough that we don’t cause “the Maestro” to lose sleep… or hair. What do you think?

Related Articles:

Data Center Automation: Why Are We Still Sending Humans to Do a Machine's Job?

Robots are on the rise. One forecaster, the Freedonia Group, predicts that the use of robots in manufacturing globally will grow nearly 11 percent annually for the next three years. Robots are growing 15 percent in the U.S., says Freedonia, and 17 percent in China.

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photo credit: avramc via photopin cc

What do robots have to do with the Data Center? Well, in the same way the manufacturing sector has transitioned from a manual, human-driven industry to one that is automated and controlled by intelligent machines, the Data Center is poised to go through a similar transformation (albeit without the mechanical arms).

(This is a guest post by Camille Campbell, a senior product marketing manager at Avaya Networking).

The Software-Defined Data Center is a new paradigm in application delivery in which compute, storage and networking components are virtualized and delivered as a service. Software will be able to intelligently combine, customize, and commission resources from the server, storage and networking pools to ensure that applications remain available and responsive. This takes us humans, with our slow, expensive and error-prone ways, out of the equation.  

(Read this Q&A with Avaya Networking’s Chief Architect Paul Unbehagen to learn more).

Deploying applications are not easy today. A series of independent provisioning tasks must occur across different silos. Virtual machines, server adapters, storage partitions and network appliances must all be provisioned and then interconnected to build an end-to-end service. This is typically done across different management systems requiring coordinated effort across multiple teams. No wonder it typically takes weeks or even longer – and why – according to a Gartner 2012 whitepaper – 40% of IT operational expenses (OPEX) go towards labor! 

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Additionally, components within Data Centers have evolved at different rates. Some are virtualized. Some are not. Also, networks lag behind servers and storage in power and ease of use. Turning on network services still requires painstaking, error-prone provisioning processes.   

Avaya is addressing the evolution to the Software-Defined Data Center through a combination of its Fabric Connect technology (based on enhanced Shortest Path Bridging) and OpenStack cloud orchestration software. A project co-founded by NASA and Rackspace, OpenStack enables companies to build cloud-based networks by providing a control layer that sits above the compute, networking and storage devices in the data center. This enables IT managers to easily control those resources as a service through a set of APIs and a common dashboard. Turning on applications becomes simple and automated. Avaya Fabric Connect enhances the current OpenStack environment by eliminating the constraints of traditional Ethernet to bring more design flexibility, agility and scale to networks.


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Provisioning Virtual LANs on a port is a great example of a task we should leave up to machines! And with Avaya Fabric Connect, provisioning VLANs through the core of your network is completely eliminated. Services are deployed at the edge only – and you can even automate that provisioning through intelligent systems like OpenStack (Avaya joined the OpenStack consortium in May). You also have much better scale (16 million services as opposed to 4,000) and the freedom to move VMs anywhere that you need them to go whether it’s across the data center or across the country. And even automate the network and storage provisioning to follow the VMs as they migrate across and between Data Centers.

Update: Here is a screenshot of the Management Suite we have built with OpenStack integration. This specific shot shows the creation of an Avaya Aura virtual machine running over an Avaya Fabric Connect virtualized Layer 2 service. As the Virtual Machine is created, we can automate the provisioning of the network service through Fabric Connect integration into the Neutron module of OpenStack.


What does automation mean for the network engineers performing these tasks today? Liberation from today’s drudgery and menial tasks! This gives them time to focus on moving the business forward. Rather than trying to troubleshoot an issue across three separate teams, or configuring Spanning Tree Groups device by device across the network, IT can engineer better applications or roll out new ones that enhance productivity or maximize efficiency. Plan for the future. The possibilities are endless. 

Granted, we won’t see the likes of WALL-E in our Data Centers anytime soon. However, there will be intelligent software systems – virtual robots – making the job of changing and turning up new services a whole lot easier and a whole lot faster. 

Learn more about Avaya’s Software Defined Data Center Framework:  

SDDC Whitepaper from ZK Research:  The Software-Defined Data Center as Key to IT-as-a-Service

Packet Pushers Podcast: Software Defined Data Center and Fabric Connect

Software Defined Data Center on

Avaya Fabric Connect video 

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Camille Campbell is a Senior Product Marketing Manager within the Avaya Networking Business Unit, focusing on Network and Data Center Virtualization.  She has over 10 years of experience in different networking technologies and has held a variety of sales and marketing roles throughout her career.