2Affordable Tools With Simple Licensing
SMB environments are complex, often made up of cobbled-together IT solutions that are overpriced and overly complicated for SMBs limited needs. But they don’t have to be; much of this complexity comes from a series of bad or ill-advised IT purchasing decisions largely due to immaturity. More important than selecting flexible, fast, extensible or scalable solutions for their IT environments, SMBs need affordable tools with simple licensing agreements that make sense and don’t unnecessarily confuse IT decision makers.
3Concierge Service From Vendors
SMBs run on thin margins and often don’t have the time or resources to quickly and effectively solve hardware or software problems. They’ve got bigger fish to fry, so they expect vendors to step in and provide fast, efficient help when something in their IT environment goes wrong. Pre- and post-sales support can act as strong differentiators when SMBs are evaluating vendors. In 2014, this core need of SMBs will create more competition from vendors trying to stand out from their peers.
4Offsite Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery
Today, no good solutions exist for offsite cloud-based disaster recovery (DR). SMBs have demanded this for years; they understand the business case for offsite DR, but only excessively complex and expensive solutions have hit the market. The first vendor to provide a simple, affordable and integrated cloud-based DR solution for the SMB market will win.
5Competitive Software Renewals
Because they are smaller, SMBs have the flexibility to change IT solutions whenever refresh cycles hit. They don’t necessarily want to do so, but when they discover a tool that’s less expensive, they will make the change. SMBs in 2014 will be looking for competitive software renewals from their existing vendors, which will encourage them to stick with what’s working and not push them to cheaper alternatives on the market.
6Fully Virtualized Environments
This year, we’ll see most SMBs fully, or nearly fully, virtualize their IT environments. Full virtualization is a strategic business move for SMBs; having a single platform simplifies IT. In the backup world, some SMBs are already deploying a single solution, which simplifies an inherently complex process. Full virtualization promises similar benefits on an infrastructure level.
7A Truly Secure BYOD Environment
The bring-your-own-device trend has been going on for a few years, especially at SMBs, where work-issued devices are rarer. However, companies have largely overlooked the security measures needed to ensure the data on these vulnerable devices is secure. It’s a headache: There are numerous models, numerous operating systems and lots of security protocols to take into consideration. In 2014, more than ever, SMBs will require a BYOD environment that securely backs up critical company data stored on these devices and one that enables remote wiping when a mobile device is lost or stolen.
8Seamless Data Synchronization
Companies working in the cloud have recognized the importance—and the challenge—of synchronizing data across platforms. In 2014, we’re seeing even more remote workers and telecommuters, which means that not only should company data be accessible from anywhere at any time, but it also needs to remain secure. Synchronization features should be fast, automated and complete to help employees go from their desks to the road to home, each time picking up right where they left off.
Every year, natural disasters disrupt IT systems and entire enterprise operations. Because disasters can strike at any moment, preparation is essential, particularly for SMBs, which perhaps have only one office, or at most a few locations. If a storm takes down that building, it could spell the end of the business if its data is not properly backed up. IT professionals at SMBs need to have tools that can prevent them from losing massive amounts of valuable data.
10Holistic Centralized Support for Multiple Hypervisors
According to Enterprise Storage Group, 52 percent of midsize businesses currently use multiple hypervisors, with VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V the dominant players. The IT solutions SMBs purchase—including those for virtualization management, storage, backup and disaster recovery—should include holistic cross-platform support for multiple hypervisors.
SMBs operate on varied and multiple IT platforms. In this multi-platform environment—ones that include legacy physical servers, multiple hypervisors and rapidly growing cloud infrastructure as a service—SMBs need a simple way to migrate their workloads from any and all platforms (P2V, V2V, V2C). The most effective approach is to integrate new IT into the unified suite of products that performs multiple tasks seamlessly, such as storage management or backup.