Even the smallest of business can generate a huge amount of data, and that data has to go somewhere.
Government regulations require businesses to keep and back up certain data for legal reasons; many firms choose to retain information like employee records, emails and instant messages; and every new version of a software application has to be stored somewhere. All that information must then be backed up to protect the business against viruses, ransomware and spyware that might infect their system and put a halt to trading. And that’s not even considering those firms that want to analyze their big data to further profits and business goals.
What are the options?
Despite the mission-critical status of all this data, many SMBs lack an overarching storage strategy that can ensure the business keeps trading no matter what. There are a number of options, and the good news is the price-per-gigabyte of storage has never been cheaper – even outside the cloud.
SMBs can opt for:
- Direct attached storage (DAS): Devices connected to PCs or servers, usually via USB. Good for information that's frequently accessed.
- Network attached storage (NAS): Devices that connect directly to the network and operate as a file server. Good for storing large files.
- Cloud storage: Online storage that comes in public, private or hybrid configurations. Good for mobile access.
- Offline media: Backing up data on to tape drives, DVDs or Blu-rays sounds a bit old-fashioned, but Google still backs up Gmail on to tape as a last resort and Facebook has its Blu-ray Cold Storage Data Center. Good for archiving.
How to choose your storage strategy
For most SMBs, a combination of these storage solutions will make up a good strategy, but figuring out the ideal combination can be challenging. SMBs need to analyze their storage needs closely, looking at which applications generate the most data, how quickly and from where most data needs to be accessed. They also need to assess how old the data is, if it’s being unnecessarily duplicated, and if it’s business related or operations related.
Mission-critical data, like operations-related software applications and the business website, is the most important regardless of the size of the company. Firms need to consider having at least two complete separate copies of this – with one offline – to ensure business continuity.
In the end, the budget and volume of data will help determine the combination of solutions an SMB requires. However, careful assessment of the data, the legal and regulatory ramifications, and business continuity are all essential for a secure and stable storage strategy.