Setting up the right IT infrastructure for a small business can be a daunting task, especially for a new entrepreneur without any technical background. From acquiring the equipment most suitable to meet the needs of the business, to being prepared for future expansion plans, or even simply setting up a proper network for the team, can overwhelm many a new entrepreneur.
We chat with Tan Wee Fong, Asean Sales Manager for computer networking solutions provider Netgear – he handles sales for the Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines markets – on what small business owners need to look out for when choosing the right IT infrastructure for their business.
What are the most important considerations for a small business when initially putting together their network infrastructure?
The first thing that small business owners need to consider is whether they have the right technical background to put all that infrastructure together themselves.
Simply put, many people who are familiar with technology tend to look for DIY (do-it-yourself) solutions in an effort to save costs, and sometimes rely on the advice from more technically competent friends to help answer their infrastructural needs. Even then, for these customers it is important to look for solutions that are easy to install and troubleshoot, which is why Netgear makes sure our products are easy to install and easy to run.
Those who aren’t familiar with technology often opt for out-of-the-box solutions or one-stop shops, such as SingTel‘s business solutions catered for small business enterprises. The important thing there is to make sure that such providers are on-the-ball with customer support, as business owners cannot afford to be left waiting on the line if their systems go down.
Any other considerations?
The business owner also has to pay heed to and plan for future growth. The needs of a small company is very different from that of a larger one, so the business owner would be wise to invest in a system that can scale accordingly when the business expands within the next few years. A good yardstick would be to plan for the next two to three years, and up to five years.
In the same vein, the entrepreneur needs to consider the size of his team as a matter of connectivity. The larger the team, the more likely there’s sharing of huge amounts of data between members.
So in general, what a business owner needs to look at is Internet access, where to store data and how to access it. Security is not of utmost importance yet.
That’s interesting – why won’t security be an issue?
A small business, when starting, has very little data that can be compromised. Most of the technical challenges faced by small businesses aren’t security issues, but run-of-the-mill problems such as unscheduled downtime from other reasons than being hacked. What’s more important is support.
This is also because an adequate level of security is already provided by the ISPs or one-stop shop solution providers, so additional security measures are not critical at this juncture. Security becomes important at later phases, of course.
There’s now a trend towards enterprise cloud services. What are your thoughts on that?
Many small businesses have been moving to the cloud, and that trend is unlikely to change any time soon.
What does such demand for cloud storage mean? The need for more storage. This is the reason why Netgear has moved into the enterprise storage space with our ReadyData solution, which provides a full suite of advanced features such as block-level replication, deduplication, and thin provisioning.
But the problem with public cloud services is security – if those solutions go down for some reason or other, your access to those services will be cut. What we foresee is a trend towards private, or even in-house, cloud services.
We have solutions, such as our ReadyNAS® Duo v2 NAS (Network Access Storage), which allows SoHo users to create their own private cloud so they can access their files and documents from anywhere in the world, and with a sufficient level of security.