Few IT Solutions for SMB/SME market

Despite the number of people in a company from business perspective, SMB and Enterprise have similar requirements & request from the Information Technology. They all expect the service continuity, anywhere access and low cost! During this time period every company dream is to get maximum out of the IT investment and still reduce the cost without loosing the functionality. Business continuity is a key factor for survival of any business. Service disruption for few minutes to few days impact can be devastating depend on the business nature. So how can SMB market segment overcome these limitations with fraction of the cost where Enterprise companies invest on?

To make things simple in this article I’ll focus on Microsoft products and the features offered by them. But as usual hints will be provided for the similar feature products as well 🙂

1. Which Operating Systems to invest on by SMB customers – My 2 cents advise goes for SBS 2008 or EBS 2008. There are significant advantages on these operating systems once properly configured and used. Less attention is been given due to the nature of the product names. Small business Server itself is not a product to be taken lightly, the solution is far more complex than the out of the box. If you’re company fallen under SME segment then consider the scale out product like Essential Business Server which can be spanned into 3 physical servers or virtual servers. Again these are Enterprise class ready product which has been limited only be the CALS and not by reducing any FEATURES. (Period)

2. Cost cutting on Hardware and software purchases – Consider HYPER-V for server virtualization. It will be ideal if you can consider few of your legacy applications to run in their own OS environment to make them less conflict with the latest operating system. Believe me Virtualization will be the ideal solution for this.

What ever your next purchase make sure it is 64bit and Virtualization capable. Always make sure you have enough hardware expansion room. (Eg: Buy 2 processor socket system with one physical processor, buy RAM with enough RAM slots.) Make sure your existing hardware can be utilized as Storage systems. There are easy ways to convert your existing servers into cost effective SAN storage and make maximum out of it. Microsoft offering of SAN software will be coming on OEM so you can consider a product like StarWind iSCSI storage. (more information about how-to articles in future)

3. Backup and Protect you data – This is part of your service continuity and availability plan. If you’re going to have HYPER-V as your virtualization option consider how to backup the virtualized environments as well. From Microsoft point of view DPM 2007 (Data Protection Manager) will be the ideal solution to protect your physical and virtual environments. DPM 2010 can be expected around Q2 in year 2010 with lots of new improvements along with desktop backup and offline laptop backup as well.
when it comes to DR solution and high availability options SMB market has been backed away by the pricy hardware devices and software. Thanks for various replication technologies and offline backup options this is becoming reality to SMB market as well. Microsoft is working closely with ISV partners to make sure software solutions exist for data replication with DR sites. As I mention StarWind is a very popular company coming up with these solutions. Best of all these solutions are costing a fraction of price of DAS or Hardware SAN with HBA adapters.

4. Consider managed services or hosted solutions when you don’t have the necessary skills in house. hosting your E-mail accounts under your company domain name is no longer a dream. You can have your own Exchange server e-mail accounts, access your mails from mobile (OWA, OMA) with a fraction of the cost of having in-house. The key question is to indentify the margin of in-house vs hosting solutions. For few SMB markets in-house might not be the ideal and much more preferred way of controlling how things happen. But that comes with additional price tag of hardware and maintenance model.

So as you can see SMB / SME market having so many options when it comes to cost reduction and still balance their business requirements. It’s all about taking the right moves knowing their business requirements and limitations. Let me know if anyone interested on these solutions and would be glad to provide more information.

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