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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grow Your SMB with Cloud Storage

The basic principle of growing the business is finding the best person to get the job done, with reasonable cost. That is why the payroll is outsourced to ADP; In-house Email Server replaced by Google Apps Premier; Business contacts are managed by Salesforce.com.

Your in-house data storage will grow as your business grow. Over time, it will become expensive. For example, it may take a couple of days to backup 50G data to a FTP server. It will take 200 days to do the same thing for 5 Terabytes of data.  Your business premise usually is the slowest link to the Internet. It will not be a good idea to have local storage grow to a level that it is difficult to transfer to a different location over Internet.

1. Move Your Email Server Out First

People don’t typically think of email as storage but it is with all the messages and attachments. If you keep it local, over time you will have to upgrade the email servers. It is best to move it out early.  Google Apps or Microsoft Windows Live could be good choices.

2. Leverage Online Storage Suites

If you don’t use an online storage suite, employees typically will just send email attachments around for sharing and collaboration. You may have a Sharepoint server in house for that purpose but over time, you will run into storage problems again. There are plenty online storage suites around, such as Google Docs, Windows Live SkyDrive, Box.net. You can easily share files with your co-workers with these online services. All that you need is a quick and easy desktop access tool to Google Docs, SkyDrive or Box.net.

3. Use Cloud Storage As a Backup Target

If you are using a local PC, you can’t stop local storage from growing. However, you can backup important data to cloud storage. There are plenty cloud storage services around, such as Amazon S3, AT&T Synaptic Storage and so on. You will need to find a cloud backup solution with your cloud storage service.

4. Use Cloud Storage As Tier 2 Storage

You may have a local file server shared by everyone in the office. Over time, the file server will grow old and run our of disk space. You need to be prepared to replace it every 2-3 years. One of the best practice is to have cloud storage attached to it as tier 2 storage. After you take care of the email storage, collaboration storage and backup storage, the file server storage will not grow as fast so it will last longer. With cloud storage attached as tier2, you now have a second copy of the data in case anything goes wrong with the file server. It is more of a business continuity and disaster recovery solution.

5. Look into the Future

The best could be that there is no local storage where your desktop is in the cloud too. Everything else is online application delivered through a web browser. This way, instead of having a physical IT infrastructure, you have a virtual infrastructure. Cloud storage will still be around, the only difference is the access point changed from local desktop to cloud desktop and online applications.

1 comment:

jodie said...

Why not take a look at Microsoft BPOS suite for your e-mail provider and document storage? You’ll get antivirus/anti-spam, back up continuity for e-mail and document storage through SharePoint Online. There’s also instant messaging and web conferencing. Here’s a link with more info: http://smb.ms/OutreachajqfSp

Regards,
Jodi E.
Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
msftoft@microsoft.com