What SMEs need to consider when shopping for storage

The following post is from Simon Marrion, channel development manager at Scale Computing

It is evident from today’s economic climate that SMEs need to be extremely cautious and careful when it comes to spending money. With SMEs on the rise and battling in a competitive environment, they are having to make financial and efficiency savings to continue to survive.

Choosing the correct storage for your business is not always a straightforward decision, but spending the time to ensure that businesses make the right investment will be a rewarding decision in the long term. With storage demands growing at a rapid rate and the expectation that everything can be stored including every email, document and image, the pressure to accommodate this is rising.

Industry analysts Gartner predicted 800 per cent data growth by 2015 and businesses need to look at ways to accommodate these growing storage needs, protect data and assets as well as be financially smart.

Shopping for storage can be a complex process, so here are some points to consider helping you make the right choice:

•    Do an in-depth Business Impact Analysis: how much storage does my business really need? Is this storage solution flexible with my business growth?
•    Embrace virtualistion: virtual servers and virtualised desktops are now a fiscal reality as the cost of some storage solutions is low enough to make implementing virtual technologies feasible
•    Gap analysis: focus on what the business is doing now and what it expects to do in the future
•    Make informed business decisions: making IT decisions is not just up to the infrastructure manager, it is important to get involved and make an effort to understand the options available
•    Be aware of hidden costs: SMEs need to understand the potential hidden costs which usually include contracts, software upgrades, installations and warranty
•    Features vs. Functionality: SANs (Storage Area Networks) are not all the same, and not all data is created equal and neither are storage systems. When reviewing proposals, quotes and configurations, SMEs need to make sure that apples-to-apples comparisons are being made
•    Complete a comprehensive Operational Cost Analysis: understand the system from an operational point of view – costs vs. time and performance vs. business continuance
•    Cheaper is not always better: SMEs need to buy storage that suits their needs and growth.

Although storage options may seem cheaper in the short term, this is not always the case in the long term. There are sometimes additional feature costs such as purchasing extra licenses as you grow and necessary software upgrades

Future success depends on making the right decisions about storage architecture at a very early stage. SMEs need to understand that they are not just buying a simple storage solution, but are investing in the right storage solution for them. It needs to be affordable, flexible and scalable to take into account the changing requirements and demands on SMEs.

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