Booming business is great, but suddenly booming business… well, that’s another animal altogether. Not only does fast, ballooning growth test your company’s scalability in terms of onboarding new hires while quickly teaching necessary processes and procedures, it also requires you to handle unexpected costs and responsibilities.
And hiring isn’t the only responsibility we’re talking about here; you’ll also have to make fast, well-informed decisions about the pillars of your business technology, such as your infrastructure. That’s right: overloaded server capacity and licensing limitations will become issues very quickly with your growing staff – unless you put your contingency plan in place now.
Here are two methods SMBs use when planning for their future growth, so they can ensure their success in the long run.
Virtualization: Tried and True for Many Companies
Virtualization, the process of hosting multiple “virtual” servers on at least one physical server, brings enterprise-level technology to smaller businesses that wouldn’t typically be able to afford the initial capital needed for the required hardware, software, licenses, implementation and maintenance it takes to set up your own datacenter.
(A datacenter, by the way, is like a high-powered bank of servers that supports your entire business with the processing capabilities you need to keep your company’s computers and networks running smoothly.)
In the past, business leaders hesitated to virtualize their infrastructure because they worried that multiple virtual servers running off a single physical server would tax the resources of that physical server – resulting in a large number of slow and unwieldy virtual servers.
Perhaps that worry may have been valid in the distant past, when server resources were far less powerful, but technology over the last decade has helped tech-forward companies successfully virtualize their infrastructure with little to no loss in performance because today’s servers are made with virtualization in mind.
Simply put, virtualization is affordable and it’s fast, plus it offers benefits you can’t get from physical servers, such as:
- Easier backups
- Load balancing
- Configuration flexibility
Of course, most importantly of all, virtualization helps your company securely scale your business resources up or down quickly, so you know you’ll always have the computing power you need to support your new hires and satellite offices.
However, depending on the level of growth you’re expecting, you may find that another, more recent option provides you with even more computing power, and future flexibility, at a comparable cost. We’re talking about hyperconverged infrastructure.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure: The New Frontier for SMBs
In addition to sounding like something from Star Trek, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is the newest enterprise-level technology to become affordable for SMBs. It combines your computing power, storage, virtualization and networking together using an easy-to-manage, end-to-end solution that streamlines purchasing, configuration and deployment.
Setting up the system is simple (as long as you know in advance what you want), and, since it’s a virtualized system, management can be handled by far fewer personnel than standard virtualization.
Because it’s an integrated virtual system, HCI typically offers performance improvements over both standard virtualization and physical server infrastructure. In fact, many companies realize a return on investment within less than three years.
Of course, HCI isn’t for everyone. If you’re running Hadoop, heavy analytics, or SAP HANA, hyperconvergence solutions could cause performance or integration issues in the long run.
No matter what your plans, your company will want to perform due diligence on all your infrastructure options before you set your growth plan in stone. When considering your options, ensure that you:
- Complete baseline testing on your current system
- Consider your analytics needs over the next few years
- Calculate the cost of your total storage requirements plus backup and recovery
Note that hyperconverged solutions also offer hiring benefits. For instance, with an HCI setup, you won’t have to fight other SMBs for dwindling and costly IT professionals. Instead of hiring an army of techies with expertise in servers and storage, you can simply hire a single IT pro who knows networking. That single person can manage the entire system for you once it’s set up.
Start Planning for Your Future Growth Now
If you or your busy IT staff don’t have time to complete an in-depth discovery process to prepare your growth plan, you may want to consider a short-term contract with an experienced infrastructure architect who’s familiar with a wide range of solutions.
Make sure the person you choose can investigate how your company’s IT currently runs, generate various realistic growth models, and help you create the best plan for your company so you’re prepared for success with 5 employees or 500.
Not sure where you can find the right person who can do all that for you? Consider ISG OnDemand, the service that pairs short-term, contract-based experts with your exact needs and your exact culture.
Learn more about how you can plan for success when you contact ISG.