Monday, September 14, 2009

Seven Attributes that Define Effective SMB Storage.

The storage challenges faced by small and medium sized companies are no different than those experienced by larger enterprises. While IT consumers in SMBs and larger enterprises have similar service levels expectations the SMB rarely has the specialized storage resources that larger businesses enjoy. SMB IT staff tend to be generalists with a broad portfolio of IT issues to manage and are unlikely to have the in-depth knowledge of any one specialization -- such as storage. Faced with the realities of limited staff, expertise and finances, an SMB is challenged with finding a storage solution that is cost effective, easy to implement, manage, maintain and one that will do the job So what is the SMB looking for in a storage solution? What are the attributes that would characterize an ideal solution for the SMB?
  1. Simplicity: The concern that regularly percolates to the top is ease of install, and ease of normal daily use. If the complexity exceeds the capabilities of the resources available then failure is unavoidable. This suggests that the elimination of operational complexity is a must.
  2. Affordability: Budget dollars are scarce so an affordable acquisition cost and low operational costs are critical. Flexibility and transparent upgradability directly impact operational and capital expenditures. If purchases can be delayed until needed, hence avoiding the costly practice of buying forward then significant savings can be realized.
  3. Scalability: Any solution must be readily scalability in capacity and performance to accommodate data growth. It must also be scalable in time meaning that an existing investment can be “transparently” upgraded with new technology as it becomes available.
  4. Flexibility: Flexibility protects the initial investment and is a key characteristic of a “buy as needed” solution.
  5. Reliability: The burden of maintainability should be on the shoulders of the “wan-a-be” SMB solution vendors. Self maintaining and self healing technologies are a key characteristic of the ideal SMB storage solution and are a must for any meaningful SMB solution.
  6. Data Integrity: While the value and criticality of business data is independent of enterprise size the severity of the consequences of data loss or corruption could be significantly different. Data protection technologies and methodologies that protect against data loss or compromised data integrity are a must for large and small enterprises but again operational simplicity for the SMB is key.
  7. Appropriate Performance: While SMB’s may not have the aggressive performance demands common in large enterprise tier 1 transactional environments, they do have data access and data delivery requirements (IOPS and bandwidth) that have to match their business needs. In other words what they are looking for is appropriate performance, however that may be measured.