The cost benefits of hyper-converged data centers in a small business environment
Data storage and virtualisation have become an increasingly important topic in IT departments across industries. How can you manage an increasingly expansive data environment while still allowing for scalability and efficiency improvements in the long term?
The answer increasingly is hyper-convergence. By combining your storage, virtualisation, and networking techniques within a single data centre, you can make decision making agiler and improve the flexibility and power of your solutions.
Especially in a small business environment, this type of flexibility is absolutely vital. Decision-making has to be near instant, allowing the fluidity you need to scale and improve your business.
Understanding the Low Costs of Hyper Convergence
At the same time, costs matter just as much. Even as IT budgets across Asia are on the rise, the argument can be made that needs are outgrowing financial capabilities. The search for more effective data solution is a major reason for the recent rise of hyper-converged data centres. While a transition to this type of virtualisation model may require an investment, that investment is bound to pay off in the long run.
Drew Robb, an expert on the subject, sums up the potential cost savings of this type of digital infrastructure thusly:
The disruption being caused by hyper-convergence is due to its ability to reduce costs as well as complexity, hence its initial penetration at the lower end of the market. This has caused many small and mid-sized organisations to abandon typical storage area network (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) models in favor of a more streamlined and less expensive approach.
Scalability takes care of the rest. The more organisations are taking up the concept, the faster the industry is evolving. The faster the evolution, the more competition, and the more customised and cost-effective solutions on for small business. What might have seemed unaffordable just a couple of years ago now becomes a realistic data opportunity.
It all starts with a low cost of entry. Research shows that within the next two years, cloud-based services that range from IaaS to PaaS and IT SaaS will account for almost one-third of the entire $134 billion global hosting and cloud services market. Businesses across industries are flocking to hyper-convergence specifically because it allows them to gain an entry point into an otherwise difficult to unlock area. The more businesses enter the space, the more directly the cost point decreases.
The Indirect Cost Savings of Hyper Convergence
Low cost to enter represents a very direct and immediate cost savings for businesses of any size. But in reality, moving to hyper-converged data centre structures offers long-term benefits, as well.
To start, indirect cost savings are directly related to IT personnel. In a traditional business environment, your technical knowledge and expertise will have to grow as your business grow. As operations become more complex, your IT team needs to expand and specialise in the various areas related to your business operations and outreach.
Compare that to a hyper-converged infrastructure approach, which is much more flexible. You will not need an ever-increasing number of professionals managing increasingly complex structures; instead, the environment scales dynamically alongside your business to offer more direct benefits.
IT professionals, of course, will always be necessary within the organisation. A centralised, virtualised infrastructure will still need a team that can manage, maintain, and expand it as needed. At the same time, moving your infrastructure to a hyper-converged data centre allows your team to focus their efforts in this area, rather than the manual operation of your data and virtual environments.
The Opportunity Costs of Data Security
Another indirect cost saving is directly related to your data security. Naturally, this area has become a focus and priority even for smaller businesses in the APAC region in recent years. A data breach, accidental or purposeful, has the potential to cause significant damage at best and shut down your business at worst. Prevention measures have to be proactive and effective.
In a traditional, on-premise IT environment, this type of centralised and proactive protection can be difficult to impossible. As a result, especially small businesses tend to leave themselves woefully exposed to vulnerabilities that could damage or sink their operations. Moving to the cloud results in some benefits, but leaves open the possibility of becoming collateral damage on an attack to data that shares a server.
Most modern hyper-converged infrastructure systems and data centres include built-in data security measures. Integration is seamless, rather than happening after the fact. As a result, backup and data recovery efforts happen more quickly and efficiently, and building a disaster recovery plan becomes part of the setup rather than an afterthought.
Potential Challenges When Switching to a Hyper-Converged Data Center
Of course, hyper-convergence is not a magic potion. It doesn’t fix all of your small business IT problems. To stand even a small chance of implementation success, you have to make sure that you prioritise your technology, data, and virtualisation capabilities before starting. Without that first step, your efforts at saving costs and improving security are bound to fail.
In addition, the transition to this new type of virtualised infrastructure can seem difficult. It might appear to be cost-prohibitive, or you might feel like you lack the in-house power to successfully leverage the full benefits of hyper-convergence. Each of these are valid concerns, and best discussed directly with your team or external consultant.
However, even valid concerns typically do not make this type of transition impossible. The key to success, instead, is finding the right time to make the switch and take advantage of the potential that hyper-convergence has to offer.
The two key use cases for (Hyper Converged Infrastructure) are small organisations that are due for a hardware refresh and those that are launching specialised projects. And the best part is that with a modular infrastructure, organisations can start small and easily add modules as requirements scale, usually with limited in-house technical staff, or none at all.
In other words, the benefits of this type of convergence are obvious for large-scale enterprises. But the cost benefits are driving small businesses to the same technology at an increasing rate, especially in scenarios where costs would be incurred either way. Given the above-mentioned advantages, this trend is not surprising.
Could your business benefit from consolidating its infrastructure in hyper-converged infrastructure? Ultimately, the answer to that question depends on your individual situation. That said, as its use increases, this development is undoubtedly one to watch in the world of small business IT in the near future.
Costs benefits can be direct and indirect. There are undoubtedly challenges, but they are increasingly manageable. The result is a modern IT infrastructure system that is agiler, scales with your business, and keeps your data safe. In other words, now might be the time to embrace hyper-convergence and close the gap to your competition.