Helping Businesses Embrace Evolving IT Trends
Today’s IT landscape continues to face significant changes as new trends and technologies emerge. Among these changes are the rapid expansion of global data, the growing need for data backup and storage, and the demand for anytime, anywhere accessibility to business and networks. Additionally, the number of home and small business networks has multiplied, prompting accelerated growth of global IT spending. With these developments in mind, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) must find ways to face IT challenges and overcome limitations on data storage performance. NAS solutions offer cost-effective, scalable and manageable options for the evolving data requirements of SMBs, especially in light of current and emerging technology trends.
The Consumerisation of IT
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
The BYOD trend is here to stay as more and more employees are bringing their own connected devices (smartphones, tablets, notebooks, etc.) into the workplace. According to Gartner research firm, 64% of knowledge workers and 55% of non-knowledge workers claim they use one or more personal devices for work every day.1
As this research also implies, many employees are using more than just one mobile device to accomplish their tasks on a routine basis. Part of this phenomenon is due to the increasing mobility of the modern workforce and the large amount of remote employees. A study by In-Stat reveals that a growing number of employees are accessing content from a wider range of devices and from remote locations.2 As these trends become a permanent part of business, monthly global mobile data traffic is expected to surpass 10 exabytes in 2016.3
With the BYOD trend, a combination of software platforms (Apple, Windows, Android, etc.) are being incorporated into the IT networks of SMBs. Meanwhile, a larger number of businesses are also choosing to use a mix of PC and Mac computers to satisfy different needs within their enterprise. In fact, research has shown that nearly 50% of companies deploying PCs are also using Macs on a trial basis or are preparing to deploy more Macs to their employees.4
BYOD has introduced a significant change to the way data is stored, transitioning from the once local form of storage to always-accessible cloud storage. Adoption and usage of cloud storage is clearly driven by the need for consistent, remote access to data, as well as the ability to share files from any connected device.
Seagate forecasts that over 60% of storage will be shipped to cloud applications by 2020. Indeed, the global consumer cloud storage market is growing rapidly and is expected to rise from US$433 million to US$2.2 billion by 2017.5 Gartner also predicts that the personal cloud will replace the personal computer as the centre of users’ digital lives by 2014.6
Bolstered by trends like BYOD, and the volume of data - particularly unstructured information - moving through business networks is expanding all the time. Massive amounts of data are being collected and stored, coming from everywhere and in many formats. Businesses will continue the search for strategies to keep up with this astonishing explosion of digital content, and cloud solutions will offer attractive benefits for data retention and sharing.
How Do These Trends Affect SMBs?
The persistence of BYOD presents several challenges to SMBs, including network management of multiple mobile devices and large capacities, infrastructure and software costs, network security, and device support limitations. With such challenges in mind, SMBs need to implement a structured approach to BYOD that involves both security and flexibility.
Mobile employees require data security and access to critical applications, and far-flung teams of remote workers must find ways of collaborating together. What’s more, IT departments will need the capability to integrate a variety of mobile devices, as well as a combination of PCs and Macs, into one network to ensure these devices can work together productively.
The growth of cloud storage and virtual file sharing also has implications for SMBs. Though services like FTP, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) and paid-for cloud storage are useful solutions, businesses will require more secure and cost-effective options for the future - particularly to move ever-growing volumes of data into the cloud.
NAS - A Pathway to New Possibilities
As we’ve seen, BYOD and cloud computing trends are not fading; rather, they are expanding all the time and presenting unique opportunities for growth among SMBs.
Embracing BYOD, for example, comes with a variety of distinct advantages, including the potential for:
- Cost savings, with workers paying for the expenses associated with their personal devices.
- Worker satisfaction, as users are able to work with the devices they prefer.
- Cutting-edge capabilities, due to users’ tendency to upgrade their devices on a frequent basis.
Similarly, cloud storage can be leveraged to reduce costs and increase data availability within business networks. It will likely deliver unique benefits to enterprises in the coming years, helping businesses compete on new levels.
To take advantage of the opportunities these trends offer, SMBs must implement strategies to safely store and share data. Consolidating data storage with NAS makes it easier for businesses to grow, manage and protect information. For users, NAS offers convenient data storage backup and file sharing services. For IT managers, NAS technology is easy to use and offers secure centralised storage of business information.7
In a 2011 survey conducted by In-Stat, 57.3% of SMB respondents claimed to use NAS products, with most of these respondents having used NAS for three or more years. According to In-Stat, this percentage is rather high when considering the fairly recent growth of the NAS market. However, it also suggests that early adopters of NAS are recognising its value and continuing to incorporate the technology into their IT infrastructures.7
The value proposition for NAS is even better when considering recent advancements in technology and storage capacity. NAS solutions enable a wide range of connected host systems to share data, boosting enterprise efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, NAS helps alleviate stress on the capacity of IT infrastructures by allowing SMBs to conveniently share data among multiple computers and devices, whether local or remote.
The growth of cloud storage presents additional possibilities for NAS. When used in conjunction with one another, NAS and cloud services create a redundant backup system and improve remote access capability.7 Also, NAS products deliver SMBs convenient access to their content through the cloud, without the security concerns that can be involved with actually storing data in the cloud.8
NAS Solutions From Seagate
Seagate has real business solutions to help embrace trends affecting IT professionals within SMBs. NAS solutions from Seagate help SMBs centralise their storage, connect securely to files with remote access and collaborate on their own private cloud. NAS can also offer more security than a pure cloud option by enabling businesses to maintain control and ownership of their data. This fact is particularly enticing to professionals working from home offices, as research shows that 60% of people prefer to have their data located in their home rather than use a cloud solution.9
From home offices to small/medium enterprises, Seagate branded NAS solutions deliver important features to consolidate, share and protect business-critical data. The Seagate Business Storage line includes 1-, 2- and 4-Bay NAS units, with the following features for SMBs:
- Centralised network storage and backups (for all PC and Mac computers)
- Private cloud for sharing/accessing files over the Internet (even from iPhone, iPad and Android devices)
- Always-on data security to protect data on the hard drive, as well as data-in-flight
- Easy offsite backup with Universal Storage Module (USM)
For businesses looking to support many users simultaneously, Seagate 4-Bay and 8-Bay Rackmount NAS solutions offer the many benefits of the Seagate Business Storage line, with a unique case design that allows more drives in a single 1U rack. The Rackmount NAS products also deliver iSCSI for virtualised environments, multiple levels of RAID functionality and Wuala™ cloud services. Table 1 displays the best applications and areas of value for the various NAS solutions Seagate has to offer.
Because approximately 50% of NAS solutions are sold as enclosures without drives, it’s also important for SMBs to select hard drives that will work optimally in their NAS units. Seagate core drive solutions provide top-quality performance for a variety of NAS configurations. See Table 2 for important considerations when choosing the right drive for your NAS application.
Table 1. Seagate® Business Storage NAS: Which NAS is right for me?
1 Market Trends: How BYOD Impacts Teleworking and Workplace Usage. Gartner, Inc., 25 March 2013.
2 In-Depth Analysis, Worldwide SMB Network-Attached Storage: Technology and Service Innovation Drive High Growth. In-Stat, 2011.
3 Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017. Cisco, 2013.
4 Reality Check: What You Need to Know about PC and Mac Desktop Costs. Clearworks, November 2010.
5 Kraus, Barbara. Business Strategies: Profiting from the Cloud. Parks Associates, June 2013.
6 “The New PC Era: The Personal Cloud.” Consumer Research: Personal Cloud. Gartner, Inc., 6 January 2012.
7 In-Depth Analysis, Worldwide SMB Network-Attached Storage: Technology and Service Innovation Drive High Growth.
8 Kraus, Barbara. Business Strategies: Profiting from the Cloud.
9 Seagate Technology, 2013.