Smaller businesses deserve better than “good enough” data storage

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My all-time favorite comment on rising expectations in technology was from stand-up comedian Louis C.K., I think it was on the Conan O’Brien show, talking about the fact that no matter how amazing technology gets, people still don’t think it’s good enough. So Louis’ story was: he’s sitting next to a guy who’s getting all huffy and impatient about a couple of seconds delay on his smart phone connection. Louis’ comment: “Hey man, give it a second – it’s going to space!”

Well, for sure, as consumers we’re all sometimes guilty of taking for granted the incredible technologies that have utterly transformed our lives in less than a generation. But here’s something I’ve noticed in the business technology arena, and especially in smaller and midsize businesses with entry-level storage needs: sometimes their expectations of storage technology are not rising as quickly as they should be. As consumers, we’ll line up around the block for the latest smart phone. But SMBs are often content to plod along with outdated, “good enough” storage because it’s what they know and how they’ve always done business.

And that’s a pity, because the datacenter is changing fast, and with it the data storage technology landscape. There are all kinds of new options out there that can put some real muscle into the ability of both small and midsize companies to grow and out-compete. For years, smaller companies had to compromise on their business and application requirements because of cost and complexity barriers. That’s no longer the case.

Why should the big guys have all the muscle?

Take flash storage, for example. Flash has very quickly gone from a high-end, enterprise-class play to the mainstream, de facto standard for larger organizations in their production environments. Now it's becoming a requisite starting point for companies with more limited budgets.

Flash is enabling innovative use cases and often delivering totally unexpected benefits, as Bruce Trevarthen, Group CEO of cloud services company theCloud Ltd., pointed out in an interview that he and I did with SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE in December - check out the video for some some great insights into how companies are leveraging flash storage now. As we discussed, flash can help companies create better customer experiences, enhance end-user productivity, and respond more quickly to opportunities, regardless of size. Why shouldn’t smaller and mid-sized organizations have access to that kind of business acceleration?

You see the same trends in software-defined storage and hyperconvergence. High-end features and capabilities that started in the upper price bands have moved well within the range of SMB budgets, giving smaller environments access to really unprecedented IT capabilities.

Why “good enough” … isn’t

In fact, in a world where businesses can go from zero to industry-toppling in just a couple of years, “good enough” storage doesn’t really cut it any more. And it’s not just the sharing-economy phenoms – the Ubers and the Airbnbs – that I’m thinking of here when I talk about industry disruption. What about Square coming out of nowhere to shake up the credit card reader industry? Or here’s one I came across recently: a start-up that’s using the Internet of Things (always a storage-intensive space) to build better luggage. Sensors in your suitcase are paired to your smartphone app – when your luggage gets within 200 feet of your phone, you get an alert!

Look around any industry and you’ll see areas where companies are leap-frogging others. Look at your own sector and you’ll find ways that your organization can get equally creative. Or you may find places where your competitors are already on the move because the right technology can help maintain your edge.

Can your vendor help you grow?

Small companies don’t necessarily want to make it into the Fortune 100 overnight. But they don’t usually want to stay small, either. Most want to grow, to earn more customers and better serve their existing ones. They want to be confident that their core IT assets can handle that growth. IT leaders at SMBs should be pressing their storage vendors to show how their products can help them achieve those goals. Vendors should be ready to demonstrate a range of solutions that can:

  • affordably accelerate applications in today’s digital environments
  • deliver the utmost management simplicity
  • provide end-to-end data protection by protecting access to data as well as data integrity
  • scale in a modular fashion as the business grows.

Vendors should be able to offer small to midsize businesses a set of modern storage technologies like flash, de-duplicated backups, snapshots, replication and different scaling options – all at a price point that doesn’t break the bank.

To learn how HPE is innovating in this space, check out the new HPE StoreVirtual 3200 Storage system – an extremely affordable virtualized infrastructure solution that’s fast, simple, resilient and scalable.

We’ve taken the HPE MSA SAN Storage platform and supercharged it with flash for an incredibly low starting price to help more small and midsize businesses move beyond “good-enough” storage so they can compete big and win.

Also visit our HPE 3PAR StoreServ Storage page to learn about Tier 1 all-flash arrays that can scale from midsize to the largest enterprise and service provider environments.

Watch this short video to see what HPE Entry Storage Solutions can do for your business.

The march toward exascale computers
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