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How SMBs can save money by consolidating data

SMBs face a vast number of IT challenges, including spiralling hardware costs, under-utilisation of hardware, overworked employees, widening security vulnerabilities and decreasing storage space. Add to this the fact that most SMBs have limited bandwidth for dealing with challenges like these, and it is clear that they need special help in coping with data management.

This whitepaper is designed to help SMBs meet the challenges they face in data management, focusing specifically on data consolidation, with the added benefit of showing them how to save money too.

Server and storage virtualisation

When it comes to consolidating data, a central focus should be on server and storage hardware virtualisation.

Decreasing the number of servers used in an organisation as a result of server consolidation means reduced power and cooling costs, and much less space requirements to host the systems.

In addition, software costs can also often be slashed by closely redesigning the configuration of virtualised systems and being able to select more applicable software licensing regimes.

On top of this, low-cost data storage solutions can be built around storage protocols such as NAS, iSCSI and SAN, which allow distributed business locations to share data at much more cheaply.

As virtualisation allows more than one operating system to be run on a single server, and many more applications to boot, the utilisation of SMBs' hardware is rapidly increased, which also means that staff utilisation is optimised, as there are less servers and other hardware to maintain.

Staff can therefore be left free to spend more time on supporting IT business objectives for the organisation as a whole, rather than IT system demands.

Business continuity benefits

On the business continuity side, there are also significant operational benefits to be had from virtualisation and data consolidation. With multiple virtual machines operating on a single server, if one becomes infected by a virus or other piece of malware, or develops some sort of fault, then that virtual machine can be rectified in isolation from the others on that physical server - the whole piece of hardware will not crippled or taken out of action.

There are also financial advantages to be gained from data consolidation in the disaster recovery area. Buying the hardware necessary to set up disaster recovery and business continuity processes using data back-up and data replication can be very costly.

However, as server and storage virtualisation can free up large amounts of existing server and storage hardware, that spare hardware can be used to deliver and support the disaster recovery systems SMBs need, to address increasing business continuity threats, whether they are weather-, security- or industry compliance-related.

Saving through deduplication

Data deduplication is another way to consolidate data and save money. As SMBs constantly save data and move to data backup systems, they often automatically save more than one copy of each file - a real problem when it comes to batched emails sent to multiple recipients containing large attachments, for instance. This means storage systems get used up more quickly, leading to more hardware outlays.

Storage data backup costs can be reduced by adopting data deduplication or "dedupe" technologies to tackle the problem. A dedupe system will make sure that only one copy of a batched email is saved on the SMB storage system, freeing up many megabytes or gigabytes of space.

Cloud-based backups

Another way to save cash from data consolidation is through cloud-based data backup. SMBs can choose an external cloud data hosting system to store and backup their data.

As the cloud hosting provider is providing the hardware to store that data, SMBs can save on their hardware, software and management costs, with the added incentive that many cloud data hosting providers throw in a number of free data storage allowances before they charge for their service.

For a cloud-based data backup service, SMBs can pay a monthly fee and see their data backed-up automatically, without having to worry about storage drives being mislaid or permanently lost. Such mishaps can potentially put SMBs in peril from large fines being levied by governmental data compliance authorities.

However, if the cloud is not deemed suitable for data backups or other business data requirements, SMBs can also consider a dedicated backup appliance, that will provide an on-premise backup of data that can also deliver shared remote access across the organisation.

Data appliances and VSAs

A purpose-built backup appliance (PBBA) combines the software and disk space needed for data backups and data backup management. A PBBA can make it easier for SMBs to backup their data, as the appliance follows SMB-set rules to "auto-discover" items on the network that need to be automatically backed-up. In addition, the appliance usually includes deduplication software, to minimise the disk space being used.

Virtual storage appliances (VSAs) are another solution to cut storage costs by being an alternative to traditional and more expensive storage disk arrays. VSA software runs in a virtual machine and creates a shared-storage environment, using the space on the physical server it runs on. VSAs include both general-purpose offerings and software designed for specific functions such as backup and disaster recovery.

All these areas can be addressed and supported by HP Simply StoreIT, a package of solutions focused on helping SMBs with virtualisation, file sharing, Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, and backup and data protection.

How HP Simply StoreIT can help SMBs save money

HP Simply StoreIT is a collection of solution-oriented products designed to take the stress out of storage by helping you solve the challenges you face today, taking into account your current growth stage and future needs.

Working with HP's network of over 200,000 channel partners worldwide, you can cut through the noise, find the right solutions to fit your immediate needs, and be assured that those solutions will be easy to manage, affordable to own and reliable to operate. HP Simply StoreIT can support the virtualisation of servers and the applications that run on them to support growth, reduce wasted capacity, and enable higher levels of application availability.

It can also enable storage for growing file shares, efficiently supporting more files, more users and more devices through careful planning.

Among many other areas, HP Simply StoreIT can also support data protection for critical business data, including data backups that reduce the risk of data loss from unforeseen events, such as disasters, human errors and malicious attacks.

To learn more, download the following whitepapers: