7 Small Business Storage Trends in 2011 - Page 2

By Drew Robb | Posted January 20, 2011
  • Print Article
  • Email Article

4. Network Storage

Small businesses are famous for having user files residing on PCs. As they get larger or more sophisticated, they might add a file server where everyone store files. But ever-expanding data requirements are leading more firms to consider networked storage which has traditionally been the province of larger enterprises. This approach offers a far greater amount of space that you can pack into a file server.

“The trend toward easily managed network storage will accelerate as smaller businesses begin leveraging the capabilities that centralized storage offers,” said Karp. “SMBs that want to keep their storage in-house will base storage-buying decisions on reliability, ease of management, and on finding the best pricing possible that meets those requirements.”

5. Decreased Storage Complexity

As enterprise-class storage filters down the food chain, it tends to be adopted first by tech-savvy firms who have enough internal IT resources to understand and properly configure systems. At a certain point in the adoption curve, though, the storage vendors start to comprehend the value of the SMB market and begin to redesign and simplify their products to suit a new set of customers.

Thus, what we see now is a big reduction in the management complexity that used to accompany networked storage and traditional storage processes.

“There is no room for cryptic storage jargon in SMB storage,” said Herzog. 

The latest batch of products, for example, is far easier to operate than their relatives from a couple of generations back. That doesn’t mean that the boss can use them -- unless he or she has some level of basic computer knowledge.

Typically, an IT generalist -- someone who perhaps looks after backup, networking and troubleshooting on a part-time basis -- should be able to operate modern small business storage tools.

6. Channel Partners and Value-added Resellers

While the products are simpler, SMBs might have trouble evaluating various competitive offerings and determining which one is right for their specific business. That is where value added resellers (VARs) and system integrators that sell and/or deploy computer systems from various manufacturers come in. Oftentimes, a reseller will focus on a particular vendor such as EMC, HP or Dell.

“As smaller companies lack IT resources, they rely on their channel partners to supplement and complement whatever IT resources they may have,” said Herzog. “Selecting the right reseller is important."

Karp concurs. He sees SMBs using the channel in greater numbers in order to make smarter technology investments. “Successful VARs will craft offerings that are reliable, easy-to-use, and aggressively priced,” said Karp.

7. All-in-One Small Business Storage

You'll find that all-in-one storage offerings, which are gaining in popularity, contain most of the trends we've mentioned so far. They're generally easy to use, harness virtualization technology; include some aspect of networked storage, and the storage vendors and VARS work together to get the products and solutions in place.

This approach unifies several aspects of storage and networking to reduce the number of systems that a small business needs to buy, operate and maintain -- a real value proposition. Many storage vendors now offer these unified storage systems.

Take the case of First State Bank & Trust in Kansas where file servers had multiplied to the point of being unmanageable. These servers ran all kinds of banking systems including applications, check imaging, remote deposits, customer inquiries and online banking.

The bank turned to Choice Solutions, a systems integrator, to deploy Axiom storage from Pillar Data. They virtualized multiple physical servers, which resulted in greater storage capacity at a much lower cost.

“Most competitors specified several boxes as opposed to the unified setup from Pillar Axiom,” Harry M. Wheeler, Jr., senior vice president at First State Bank & Trust. “We saw value in the concept of consolidating our storage onto a single platform to support our virtualized environment and to keep pace with rapid growth.”

The unified storage system meant that First State Bank & Trust didn’t have to hire a storage manager who understands the intricacies of networked storage. Instead another IT staffer oversees the system using its set-it-and-forget-it features.

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow's Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

Page 2 of 2

Previous Page
1 2

Get free tips, news and advice on how to make technology work harder for your business.

Learn more
You have successfully registered to
Enterprise Apps Daily Newsletter
Thanks for your registration