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IT storage has become a critical decision point for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Without the right storage solutions, SMBs run the risk of being overwhelmed by spiraling data growth, which can negatively impact IT costs, complexity, security and availability. At the same time, SMBs face the same pressures as larger companies to use data strategically to drive business operations, improve the customer experience and support digital transformation.
SMBs typically have the added challenge of tighter IT budgets and less IT personnel resources than enterprise companies. Therefore, the importance of managing return on investment (ROI) and delivering measurable business benefits can be even greater for IT decision-makers in SMB environments. Storage is a particularly important investment because data has become the lifeblood of most businesses and is growing significantly in volume, velocity and variety.
To address these issues, many SMBs have turned to public cloud storage options. However, using just the public cloud can be a challenge because IT has less control over costs, performance, security and compliance. In addition, if the public cloud storage is not centrally managed, the organisation can face additional risks caused by shadow IT. For those reasons and others, approximately 80% of midmarket customers are looking at how to integrate cloud-based storage with on-premises storage.
The hybrid cloud storage environment created by the mix of public cloud and on-premises storage allows SMBs to maximise ROI while delivering the performance, capacity, scalability and flexibility required by developers, users and line-of-business managers throughout their organisations. The top five benefits of hybrid cloud storage for SMBs are:
- Improved ROI: With hybrid cloud storage, IT teams can manage costs more strategically, using the strengths of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure to their best advantage. For example, public cloud can be used to support seasonal spikes in demand and new infrastructure for DevOps, while on-premises storage can be used for applications where IT needs to maintain strict control over security and data protection. Both environments can be centrally managed from the same platform.
- Increased agility: With the right solution, IT organisations can use the storage platform of their choice, including all-flash storage or hybrid flash/spinning disk. They can also leverage features such as intelligent tiering and hybrid cloud object storage to maximise their investment. When IT is more agile, businesses benefit in a number of ways, including increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, improved quality assurance and a greater ability to strategically leverage data analytics to meet the needs of employees, partners and customers.
- Reduced risk: SMBs can take more control over security, compliance and disaster recovery in a hybrid cloud storage environment. Hybrid cloud gives IT teams more options to support best practices in backup and reduce recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. With disaster recovery as a service and backup as a service, IT teams can reduce overall storage costs and improve performance of production storage environments.
- Reduced complexity: With a software-defined model, IT teams can use automation and orchestration features in the management platform to streamline deployments, leverage shared resources and utilise the self-service capabilities of cloud environments. Software-defined hybrid storage solutions make scaling much simpler, and overall management is much less of a strain on IT resources—SMBs can have a single person managing the entire storage infrastructure from a single pane of glass.
- Ability to future-proof the business: SMBs are subject to the same volatility as larger organisations. Initiatives such as the Internet of Things, big data analytics and digital transformation are disrupting business processes across many industries. By leveraging a hybrid cloud storage platform, SMBs give themselves the best opportunity to maximise their storage investment over the next five years and beyond. The key to maximising hybrid cloud storage is to use a software-defined architecture. As noted by Neuralytix, “SDS provides a flexibility and consistency to span different deployment models with a consistent operational experience.”
SMBs need to focus on the bottom line. They must invest in technologies that help them make more money now, while supporting the business through the unanticipated changes—and challenges—looming on the horizon. Software-defined hybrid cloud storage enables SMBs to improve ROI today with a platform that also prepares them for the future. It’s time to take the next step forward.