PCs, servers and tools for SMBs

PCs, servers, other hardware and software change by the minute, and keeping up with them or just maintaining the status quo isn't easy. This IT Management Guide will help SMBs make smart choices.

PCs, servers and other hardware change by the minute, and keeping up with them or just maintaining the status quo isn't easy. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to make careful decisions with any purchases or upgrades, because as with any size company, you want to get the most for your dollar.

But smaller companies can also be at an advantage. You might be able to take more risks on new technology than larger enterprises. It all comes down to research and knowledge. The more questions you ask, the more you know, and the better your decisions will be.

This month's IT Management Guide focuses on hardware advice, news and trends as they relate to SMBs.

For free advice and resources on more IT and business topics, visit our main SMB IT Management Guide section.

Table of contents

      HP unites on SMB strategy
      SMBs rarely use laptop-tracking technology
      Blade servers: Check IT List
      Storage: More than cheap hardware
      More resources

  HP unites on SMB strategy  Table of Contents

[Kate Evans-Correia, Senior Director, News]

BOSTON -- Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) foray into the SMB market is hardly a secret. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is already a dominant player in that space, with its Proliant servers and its line of printers. But the SMB market is practically sizzling in terms of vendor opportunity, and like all other major server vendors, HP is setting an aggressive strategy to get a bigger piece of that SMB pie.

It's basically getting its act together in terms of putting out a unified message, said Mary Johnston Turner, an analyst at Ovum Summit in Winchester, Mass. HP has always had products for the midmarket, but now it has to pull that all together and solidify a strategy it can bring to customers. "They're getting the word out."

HP faces stiff competition from the likes of EMC Corp., IBM and even Dell Inc., all of which have been coveting this market for some time. But with IDC predicting the market will reach $5.7 billion by 2010, the market is ripe for the taking.

   Learn more in "HP unites on SMB strategy." Also:

  SMBs rarely use laptop-tracking technology  Table of Contents

[Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer]

Laptops get ripped off all the time. Just ask officials from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district. Earlier this month, CPS reported that two of the district's laptops, which contained the names and Social Security numbers of about 40,000 current and former employees, were stolen from one of its downtown administrative offices. The school district is ready to pony up a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or the recovery of the computers.

It's almost epidemic. The average business loses about 5% of its laptop inventory to theft. Top law enforcement agencies aren't even immune. The FBI reportedly experiences three to four laptop thefts a month.

Even more alarming: From 2005 to 2006 there was an 81% increase in the number of companies reporting stolen laptops containing sensitive information, according to Ponemon Institute LLC, a research think tank dedicated to advancing privacy and data protection practices.

Given that experts contend laptop thieves are opportunists after hardware rather than the sensitive data found on them, wouldn't a technology that can track that stolen hardware be helpful? Oh, wait -- there is one, and it's most likely installed on your laptop. It's probably just not activated.

   Learn more in "Laptop-tracking technology rarely used among SMBs." Also:

  • CIO disillusioned with Windows PCs, tests Macintosh computers (SearchCIO.com)
    Fed up with the inflexibility of a Microsoft-centric shop, one CIO is tossing around the idea of swapping out his PCs for Macs. It isn't necessarily a great idea, say some experts, but it isn't entirely unreasonable.

  • Startup debuts safer notebook battery (CNET News.com)
    Boston-Power Inc. plans to show off a battery Tuesday that it claims is a lot like conventional lithium ion batteries but with a difference: It is less likely to blow up.

  Blade servers: Check IT List  Table of Contents

[Greg Schulz, Contributor]

Blade servers are increasingly finding their way into small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as cost and space-saving benefits are realized. Whether you need to consolidate servers for more physical space, save energy or both, blades have a lot to offer -- if you know what to look for.

SMBs most commonly use blades for packaging multiple servers into smaller, denser enclosures while sharing some common infrastructure items such as power, cooling and a keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) switch to take up less space.

Blade servers are beneficial to SMBs because of their modularity, which allows growth and flexibility without compromising processing capabilities. With the growing focus and awareness around power and cooling, blade servers can also provide advantages for physical server consolidation to reduce your energy footprint.

   Learn more in "Blade servers: Check IT List." Also:

  • VMware coaxes SMBs with low-cost management tool (SearchSMB.com)
    SMBs that have downloaded VMware Server for free now have the option of buying a low-cost virtualization management product from VMware.

  • Virtualization: SMBs go all the way (SearchSMB.com)
    Research shows larger companies are more willing to experiment with virtualization. But smaller companies, if they give it a chance, are more likely to take full advantage of it. Once SMBs give in, they go all the way.

  Storage: More than cheap hardware  Table of Contents

[Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer]

SMBs risk being caught without the means to manage their storage if they let themselves be lured by enterprise-class products with entry-level price points.

Nearly 45% of SMBs recently surveyed by Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. named storage as a top hardware purchase initiative in 2007. Many will buy high-end systems in an attempt to get a handle on their exploding storage demands. But experts warn that a high-end system alone, without services support, can leave some businesses with systems they can't afford to manage.

"If you look at the volume of information that companies are storing -- and it's been growing by 30% to 50% per year the last seven or eight years -- even small businesses are acquiring amounts of information that would have been difficult for a large organization to deal with just a few years ago," said Charles King, principal analyst at Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research.

King said SMBs just don't have the resources or IT skills to manage their data storage needs.

As a result, King sees an explosion of the IT services business as more SMBs demand products that will "take the management burden off deploying all this stuff."

   Learn more in "Storage: SMBs need more than cheap hardware." Also:

  • SMBs reject tape for online backup (SearchSMB.com)
    SMBs looking for fewer server backup headaches are turning to remote services instead of tape.

  • HP renews SMB storage campaign (SearchStorage.com)
    With the launch of the new All-in-One 1200 and the shifting of executives to a new SMB business unit, HP is focused on its low-end products in an effort to boost growth.

  More resources Table of Contents

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