ISCSI, SAN, NAS – storage jargon can be too much for small businesses to handle when all they really want to know is how they can better manage their growing amounts of digital data. David Holmes, Enterprise Storage Marketing Manager, Dell UK & Ireland sets out to demystify storage for small businesses and provide advice on how adopting a data management strategy can help them better manage their dynamic storage needs.
There is no question that an increasing number of organisations are adopting various types of digital technologies to help them manage their business. As a result business-critical digital data now includes customer information, emails, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, spreadsheets as well as scanned images. What’s more, there are regulations in place which mean that organisations, regardless of size, face the possibility of legal action and financial penalties if they don’t find suitable storage solutions for their data.
All these issues may appear overwhelming to a small business but they can be easily addressed by putting in place a simple data management strategy. First, small businesses need to work out where key data is stored. Many small businesses may find that their inventory, customer details and other key business data is still paper-based. Others may find that it is electronically stored on PCs, flash disks or CDs. Knowing what you have and what format it is in is the first step to organising it.
Next, small businesses should back up all data. Companies should make electronic copies of key documents and remember to back up all new and existing digital data as well. For the system to be effective, data needs to be backed up as regularly as possible, in case of any virus attacks and data being deleted. Disk and tape back ups are popular options available today. However, as the amount of digital data created every day is increasing, it is important to prioritise data, consider what needs to be backed up and ensure quick and easy access to the most important information.
For those businesses that may be considering investing in new storage solutions, scalability and flexibility are key factors to bear in mind. Any new storage purchases should not only match a small business’ current needs but also accommodate a reasonable amount of expected growth. Small businesses may think that Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Direct Attached Storage (DAS) are the most economical options. However, the proliferation of iSCSI (IP-based) technology means affordable, enterprise-class, easy to manage and always available iSCSI storage area networks (SANs) are within the financial reach of small businesses today.
Finally, businesses regardless of size need to be aware of relevant legislation and its storage implications. Directives such as the Data Protection Act and Basel II govern data storage requirements and can pose hefty penalties for non-compliance. Knowing about the regulations that apply and complying accordingly can keep small businesses on the right side of the law and avoid any negative financial repercussions.
Storage and data management is not as daunting as it seems. With a little planning, small businesses can be well on the way to making data management a relatively painless process, which will ultimately help their business to run more smoothly.