Smart storage for emerging SMEs

How well a company manages and protects its digital assets can go a long way towards determining its success or failure. According to SME Toolkit South Africa – a project of the SME Department of the World Bank Group – small and medium sized enterprises are breaking ground and getting noticed as evidenced by the influx of investments last year.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) has further noted that the SME sector can play a pivotal role in achieving the success of SACCI’s latest nine-point economic growth plan.

Given the limited budgets that most local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are challenged with, setting up a robust IT infrastructure that supports and protects a company’s data is often an uphill task. Nonetheless, managing servers, connecting different platforms, making sure data is secure, and doing it without dedicated IT professionals on call can be a serious headache for a small business.

But there is a solution that makes sense, and it is called network-attached storage.

Making the leap
What is network-attached storage (NAS)? It’s essentially just shared storage. NAS devices are able to save and share data for multiple computers, whether they are Macs or PCs, allowing users to access that data whether they are sitting in the same room with the network or securely when they are on the go, over the Internet. Gone are the days where local SMEs have to shoulder the full costs of setting up their own IT infrastructure to host their data.

Organisations can now tap into the benefits and scale of enterprise level IT systems while easily backing up all the computers in their home or office to the NAS device, and then access that data from each computer.
One of the barriers that some companies face in adopting NAS is that there are a grand variety of options out there which can quickly overwhelm a non IT-expert. So how does an emerging SME choose what setup is right for their business needs? I would advise three important factors to consider.

Cloud combined with NAS
There are numerous cloud service providers in the region today who offer storage-as-a-service. One of the key advantages of cloud storage is that it provides notably easy access to your data from any place where there is an Internet connection.

In light of this, an increasing number of SMEs are adopting a mixed approach to their storage needs. While leveraging on the benefits of what the cloud has to offer, they also integrate a NAS solution into their cloud environment. The key advantage of this approach is that it allows SMEs to establish their own cloud storage without giving up possession and control of sensitive, mission-critical data. Additionally, it offers a method of data access that remains consistent whether you’re on the company network or somewhere outside the confines of the office.

Custom solutions for SMEs
Today there are special HDDs built for small business servers, backup servers, and central storage systems, which are rigorously tested to provide industry-leading capabilities for small 1-4 bay NAS systems. Engineered for high performance even when several applications are open at the same time, these drives can also support multiple HD video streams and user profiles. Additionally, they have near silent-acoustics, ensuring that the office environment is not affected by loud noises whenever the NAS system is in operational mode.
The implementation of a NAS system is also made easier with support software that goes a long way in simplifying installations, customising error recovery controls, improving power management, and fine-tuning vibration tolerance.

High-capacity storage requirements
Many of the cutting-edge NAS hard disk drives consist of up to 4Tb worth of storage. That is equivalent to having the capacity to store over 819 000 photos, 1-million songs or nearly 500 hours of HD video content. The top drives today also offer a capacity improvement of over 30% in comparison to other competitor products. So what does all that mean?

Well, it’s really about finding that ideal combination of always-on performance, reliability and expandability. If you put that 4Tb worth of storage into a 4-bay NAS array, you get four times that capacity, which we have found to be ideal for many small businesses which require enough capacity to store CAD files, medical images, high-resolution graphic art, or large customer databases.

Keeping these three factors in mind will ultimately help SMEs maintain peace of mind when it comes to their storage needs.

By Ayman Al-Ajous, sales manager of the MEA region for Seagate

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