Out with the old and in with the new. That works great for some New Year’s resolutions, but it’s not especially wise for a small business IT strategy.
For most businesses, the process to upgrade or replace legacy applications and infrastructure needs to evolve at a manageable pace. Luckily, the technologies available to drive businesses forward are plenty. To help, here are three IT solution areas for small businesses to focus on in 2016.
1. Converged Infrastructure
As an alternative to traditional, often innovation-resistant data centers, small businesses should consider a converged infrastructure solution as a platform on which to build their data center. CI integrates multiple technologies, such as servers, storage, networking equipment and software — along with service and support — into a single solution.
According to an Infiniti Research study, the global market for converged infrastructure products is projected to grow by more than 31 percent a year from 2014 to 2019. One CI delivery model involves preconfigured hardware and software bundles. Here, the vendor supplies an organization with specific storage, network, server and related technologies. The components are integrated and standardized to help achieve timely, repeatable, consistent deployments.
Another delivery model involves a reference architecture, a system design developed by a provider or an independent party. The RA specifies which components to buy and how to connect and configure them for maximum performance. An RA allows organizations to mix and match hardware and software that meet the architecture’s specifications.
2. Software as a Service
Software as a Service has spread across departments and lines of business within small and medium-sized businesses. But SaaS delivers more than just the features of the applications themselves.
Combine the applications in productivity suites, such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps or Cisco WebEx, with the cloud’s availability, accessibility and collaboration characteristics — plus mobile computing’s anytime, anywhere access — and SaaS deployments become critical to attaining next-level productivity.
The cloud is a flourishing software delivery vehicle. The global SaaS market is projected to grow from $49 billion in 2015 to $67 billion in 2018, according to analysts at Technology Business Research. And IDC estimates SaaS public cloud spending will reach $82.7 billion by 2018. SaaS models run the gamut, from cloud-native solutions to client/server software relocated to a cloud platform. Commercial on-premises applications are now available as a service, and an increasing number of new applications are being created in the cloud.
Productivity often drives SaaS adoption. Because the cloud provider performs support and maintenance as part of the subscription fee, IT staff aren’t burdened with overseeing SaaS servers.
3. Infrastructure as a Service
One of the cloud’s greatest areas of opportunity lies in Infrastructure as a Service. With IaaS, such as Microsoft Azure or VMware’s vCloud Air, vendors offer infrastructure components such as computing, storage, networking and databases as a commodity.
Businesses adopting IaaS have three options to choose from, including public cloud, which uses offsite services shared among multiple customers; private cloud, which builds a cloud environment dedicated to a single customer; and hybrid cloud, which blends elements of public and private.
IaaS enables a pay-as-you-go computing model. Cloud also allows companies to build technology environments that withstand disasters. Research firm MarketsandMarkets projects that spending on Disaster Recovery as a Service will climb to $11.92 billion in 2020, up from $1.42 billion in 2015.
But perhaps the most valuable cloud benefit to business lies in the cloud’s ability to provide immediate access to the computing resources needed to fuel growth. The cloud allows IT staff to take advantage of scalable infrastructures that grow automatically as the needs of the business increase.