Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

No staff? No problem! How to optimize your IT infrastructure with limited internal resources

Limited IT resources are a major constraint for SMBs, and there's no one-size-fits-all strategy that can help. Here's how you can take IT off your plate and dynamically extend the resources you have.

Infrastructure for SMBs_social.jpgIf you run a small-to-midsize business (SMB), you may not have a dedicated IT staff. Or perhaps you have a single, stressed staffer whose plate is brimming with too many responsibilities to adequately maintain, scale, and secure your IT infrastructure.

Maintaining current IT infrastructure is among the top IT concerns facing SMBs, which also include IT budget constraints and finding qualified and trained people, according to analyst firm Techaisle. Identifying solutions to these challenges is difficult enough, but there also seems to be no one-size-fits-all solution for today's workloads—you must discern what to run on-premises or in the cloud. With vendors pushing a bewildering number of options, there's a lot to think about—but there are ways to optimize your investments on a limited budget.

To the cloud? Not so fast

Whether you're a startup rolling out your IT infrastructure for the first time or are further along in your venture and looking to update existing systems, the cloud can seem like an attractive option. Low cost, fast processing speeds, scalability, and ease of management are just some of the apparent benefits. If you're already running SaaS applications in the cloud or thinking of moving some of your infrastructure services (servers, storage, data archiving, etc.) there, too, then you likely have lots of questions.

For example, which application and data workloads should you move? How do you ensure those workloads are optimized and supporting the business as a whole? What about those legacy applications and IT infrastructures that you already have in place that weren't built with the cloud in mind? Older applications are hard to integrate with the cloud and require costly recoding or more processing power to work in cloud environments. While the cloud offers substantial benefits for SMBs to reap, it's not a solution you should automatically feel comfortable relying on alone.

Is staying on-premises safer?

The cloud may not be the perfect home for your workloads, but then again, your on-premises server may not either. For example, for many SMBs it makes sense to store data in the cloud; for others, such as those in the health care and financial industries, keeping sensitive transactional data on-premises is required to comply with data governance laws.

A huge consideration for SMBs—a vulnerable target for cybercriminals—is securing their systems and data. Many businesses feel more comfortable housing their critical systems in their own server closet rather than in a third-party cloud. But the cloud often provides higher levels of security thanks to huge investments by cloud services providers.

Don't forget your network

A further consideration is your network. If you're hosting all your servers on-site, then you have direct network access to those resources. Move workloads to the cloud, and you're dependent on a third party for your connections, which can introduce performance and latency issues. In fact, worries about network connections are one of the main reasons businesses opt to stay on-premises.

It's also critical that your network infrastructure positions you to capitalize on the rising popularity of edge computing—or data sources (applications and IoT) that reside closest to your customers, employees, and users. This intelligent edge is where data is increasingly being captured, analyzed, and aggregated; it could be on a mobile device or a sensor located on a vehicle in your fleet.

How you use the intelligent edge has important ramifications for your network infrastructure. Your platform strategy needs to go beyond reliable and secure connections—the traditional must-have prerequisites for any network—to encompass built-in data collection and analytics capabilities that will provide context and insights.

With all of these operational challenges and disparate data sources, how do you bring all of your priorities together under one cohesive strategy? The answer: hybrid IT.

Going hybrid with IT infrastructure

With few resources and many decisions to be made, it's time to acknowledge that an all-in approach rarely makes sense for SMBs. In fact, most SMBs operate in both cloud and on-premises worlds. The challenge lies in analyzing your workloads to determine the best place for each one—the cloud or on-premises—then finding the right hardware and software combination that makes sense for your budget and skillset.

For example, if you have easily supported workloads that don't need much customization and don't struggle with latency problems, then the public cloud is worth considering. For all other workloads, an on-premises infrastructure is still a viable option. This is the hybrid IT world in which today's businesses often operate.

The trick is to bring it all together under one strategy and make the right IT investments, so your business can operate successfully and seamlessly.

HPE offers small-business IT solutions that can help you achieve the proper alignment of your workloads and infrastructure needs by simplifying hybrid IT. Whatever your infrastructure needs are—compute, storage, or networking—you can just choose the solutions you need. When combined, they provide you with an on-premises workload environment that meets your budgetary and staffing constraints—with full support for your demanding applications.

Further extend your IT staff and budget

Creating a hybrid IT environment may sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Do you need help deciding where those workloads go? HPE Pointnext services can augment your team with everything from advice to project-based engagements.

Setting up the technology is only part of the equation, however. If your IT budgets are stretched, HPE Financial Services give you the flexibility to cost-efficiently procure the right infrastructure. With HPE, you can run applications where they best serve your business, without breaking the bank.

As you try to figure out how to operate in both the cloud and on-premises worlds—and bring the two together in a successful way—you may face some challenges, but you'll also unlock opportunities. For example, accelerating time to value across a hybrid IT infrastructure is a key challenge and priority. Taking advantage of new compute innovations, storage data services, and latency-friendly networks is also a critical part of a hybrid IT foundation. Whichever direction you go, remember that you aren't alone—you have access to affordable services that take the headache out of choosing, managing, and financing each element of your IT ecosystem.

For more tips and insights on optimizing your IT infrastructure with limited resources, download the eBook SMB Hybrid IT for Dummies .

Caron Beesley Headshot.jpgMeet Server Expert blogger Caron Beesley, Technology Advocate from Small Businesses to the EnterpriseCaron Beesley advocates for the advancement of technology adoption in enterprises and small businesses alike. She is a contributing author at the Small Business Administration (SBA), among other organizations, and writes frequently on cloud, cybersecurity, big data, and other innovative technologies.


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