Small Business Tech—You Don’t Have To Envy Your Corporate Buddies Toys Anymore
If you’re a Small Business owner, you may have experienced a state of shock when you first realized just how much an I.T. infrastructure was going to hurt your bottom line. If you’ve come from a corporate environment, you may be used to a vast array of technological tools, toys and gadgets that boost productivity and facilitate business procedures. If you’ve never had access to some of these tools, you may feel a slight twinge of envy when your well-heeled corporate friends show off the latest and greatest in information technology. These days, the small business community no longer has to remain on the outside looking in. Advances in freely available open source software now give the small business sector the ability to compete with the big boys, at costs that would make corporate accounting positively green with envy.
After more than a decade as an I.T. professional, largely servicing the small business sector, I’ve seen firsthand how the costs of network and server maintenance can practically cripple many small organizations. As a result, owners must carefully balance which technology investments represent legitimate business needs and what functionality can be sacrificed with the least pain. The choice doesn’t really need to be as difficult as it presently is, and there are myriad options to help small businesses make a technological leap without mortgaging their future.
I believe the most important tool that a small business can use to expand functionality while cutting costs is virtualization. While many have heard the term in the tech marketplace, most end users fail to understand what the concept means, how it can help them, and just how cost-effective it can be. Virtualization, at its core, is really a means of consolidating existing or new I.T. hardware into smaller, more efficient hardware.
To grasp the concept, imagine your current array of systems, such as firewalls, file servers, mail servers, and terminal servers condensed into one or more high-powered systems. By running several server packages on a single machine, you’ve eliminated a significant amount of hardware maintenance, replacement, and upgrade costs. Of course, this may sound like an expensive proposition, but that’s not necessarily the case. VMware, the established leader in virtualization technology, makes a basic virtualization software platform available for free, as a means to widen the virtualization market. Leveraging this free software, a small business can rapidly consolidate server hardware onto newer, faster systems, without having to replace every physical machine they currently use.Continued on the next page