How the Channel Can Help Solve the Most Pressing SMB Challenges

Geek Speak

Lord Gordon bioBy Gordon Lord, Director of Distribution and Channel Marketing, Schneider Electric IT

Small businesses are often expected to have similar capabilities as larger

companies, but with far fewer resources at their disposal. While all IT managers have their unique set of challenges, small-to-medium sized business (SMB) IT organizations frequently face a distinct set of difficulties, such as limited space, small staffs and limited budgets.

SMBs may want to engage a channel partner’s help in evaluating small IT solutions, so they needn’t worry about falling behind or spending time evaluating vendors of which partners may already have built-in knowledge. The following below are several common scenarios that small businesses face daily, and how to provide best practices from the channel.

Scenario #1: You recently consolidated your IT equipment – how can you optimize the resulting space? Consolidating IT equipment can lead to challenging scenarios related to the physical infrastructure. In some consolidations, overall power requirement has decreased; however, density of power consumption has increased significantly. To maximize the savings and efficiency gains of consolidating IT equipment, it is imperative that SMB customers right-size their new environment.

Scenario #2: How can you increase space in existing racks to accommodate a few more items? For SMBs, large, dedicated networking space is hard to come by. To fit more equipment in your existing closet, invest in 45U and 48U enclosures. These wider, taller enclosures will expand your IT rack capacity while also minimizing required space.

Scenario #3: You need to improve your server room management, but don’t want to break the bank. Is there a simple solution? Datacenter Critical Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software solutions are not just available for the large data center, but for SMB server rooms as well. If your server room is secure, using an open-frame rack can provide a budget-friendly place to organize and install IT equipment of any shape and size. These racks allow equipment to ventilate freely, which may also cut costs on cooling. If equipment is located in a non-secure area, try an enclosed shelter, which are budget-friendly and easy to manage.

Additionally, using low-cost cable managers throughout racks to neatly organize cables will help minimize the time required to troubleshoot network issues and repair or replace damaged cables. Finally, motion-activated cameras; sensors for temperature, humidity and entry; and centralized management of intelligent Power Distribution Units (PDUs), Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs) and cooling units can serve as an entry point for server rooms that need proactive management.

Scenario #4: You’re transitioning to cloud computing for a portion of your business applications and data. Is there a simple solution to help maintain availability? As customers move applications to the cloud, the network that connects their premise to the cloud provider should become the focal point. Many customers don’t adequately address items like redundant power sources to ensure all the network components are consistently available. To help protect critical loads, try installing a PDU switch that removes points of failure and maintains availability.

Scenario #5: What should you do if you don’t have any dedicated IT space for servers and networking equipment? For SMBs that do not have the luxury of dedicated IT space, enclosed shelters can provide a secure alternative. These “server room in a box” solutions are designed specifically for deploying equipment in non-dedicated spaces. SMBs can reduce capital costs and keep their businesses agile using a secure, portable IT infrastructure.

Scenario #6: You’re often forced to install networking equipment in tight spots such as a small closet or odd-shaped room. How can you optimize these spaces? While smaller networking racks may squeeze into these tight spaces, they also place limitations on the amount and availability of equipment. Inconsistent and high temperatures in these environments can impact performance, operation and ultimately lower the expected life of networking equipment. Portable, self-contained air conditioning solutions for small rooms and data closets can be installed quickly and inexpensively and help address the environmental demands of these spaces

These tips are a starting point for SMBs faced with common challenges in the above scenarios. Of course, every organization is different, and working with a partner that understands your needs, as well as the solutions that will help solve your challenges without breaking the bank, is an important part of IT strategy for many SMBs.

Gordon Lord serves as Director, North American IT Distribution and Channel Marketing, Schneider Electric IT and has 17 years of channel experience.