Clustered IT solutions – The hidden benefits for SMEs

With a staggering £27 billion due to be added to the British economy in small business wages alone in 2014, it is clear to see why small and medium-sized companies have been earmarked as the lifeblood of the UK economy.

Britain’s small businesses are set to create 1.9 million new jobs this year, and to ensure this success and vital economy support continues, businesses need to future-proof themselves using clustered IT solutions.

For a small business, a vital part of ensuring ongoing success, is understanding the importance of a robust and efficient IT infrastructure. In order to remain competitive and meet changing customer demands, like their enterprise counterparts, SMEs need to avoid extended downtime that could cause a direct and measurable impact on their businesses.

Viewing IT infrastructure as a growth tool rather than an often troublesome necessity is the first step in this journey.

As a business grows so do its IT demands, moving towards virtualisation, increased storage, larger networks and additional servers are just some of the changes that will be required. Making the smart move to embracing and investing in your businesses IT infrastructure should be straight forward and head-ache free.

There are common pain points to be aware of when deploying initial or upgrading internal systems, whether that’s scaling up or integrating virtual environments. These mainly stem from integrating several separate aspects such as servers, storage, network and software together. This is no simple task, building these physical or virtual IT environments is a complex task which requires the right configuration, installation and ongoing maintenance. Addressing the different components is hard enough in itself; however, it is often made tougher by the influx of new solutions and mixed marketing messages flying around the IT space.

Working out the right solution for your business is key to business continuity. To do this, businesses do not need to invest in the wheel again – condensed solutions including pre-installed necessary software such as Microsoft Windows Server 2012 are accessible to businesses as highly available virtualised clustered solutions. These clustered solutions offer a combination of server, storage and network components in one compact enclosure, perfectly suited to virtualisation. This single box option is ideally suited to small businesses in three main ways:

  1. Simplicity – Pre-packaged integrated cluster solutions often take only minutes to start-up. There are solutions available provide an installation wizard which helps to get the businesses up and running quickly, without extensive knowledge. Making the system upgrade or move to virtual environments a simple task. Small businesses often do not have the time to dedicate members of the team to IT and this option means that a lack of expertise will not hinder IT development.
  1. Cost – Sourcing and maintaining individual components which work together can prove costly. Often small businesses are limited to expensive options due to existing systems only being compatible with certain brands or configurations. Out of the box clustered systems provide an affordable initial purchase costs and also enable businesses to budget for the future as they are flexible and easy to expand as required. This makes anticipating for tomorrow a less stressful task.
  1. Risk – It is important for small businesses to manage the risk involved in the initial deployment and also long term lifespan of its IT system. It has been identified that the average cost of downtime (across small, mid-sized and large enterprises) is around £138,000 per hour, a figure which would devastate a small businesses using managed IT services can do that for you.

As technology evolves, so should every business. This doesn’t mean being at the forefront of innovation for a small business but rather, embracing innovation and selecting a tailored solution which can grow with the organisation. Smaller businesses are seeing the same issues as their enterprise counterparts when it comes to growing their business, now is the time to take action and reap the dividends of the clustered solutions available. IDC believes that clustered solutions which combine server hardware, virtualization, redundancy, and resource monitoring, including fault prevention mechanisms, provide substantial value for organizations across verticals and business sizes. Embracing a fit for purpose clustered solution which avoids the common time, money and expertise barriers by integrating components will allow businesses to drive value and ultimately gain a larger share of the market.

Daniel Pieters, enterprise product marketing manager, Fujitsu

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