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Key Storage Trends and Challenges for SMBs in 2020

Lucas Roh
Lucas Roh

Find out why storage solutions that meet business needs, keep costs down and limit the complexity of the infrastructure will be a critical trend in 2020.

As we move into 2020, storage demands continue to rise. The need for storage solutions that meet all of the business needs while keeping costs down and limiting the complexity of the infrastructure will be a critical trend in the next year. IT professionals must stay ahead of these trends and challenges now if they want their organization to have a competitive advantage.

Need for quick scalability

As data is accumulated and big data and AI become essential tools for tomorrow's business landscape, storage solutions that offer quick scalability will become a vital factor for success.

Not only does scalability protect your business from fluctuating periods of demand, but it also allows you to deliver a better, faster customer experience. Instead of having to overhaul your entire storage infrastructure, you can simply expand it or scale it down according to your needs. This is particularly true for e-commerce businesses, where speed is vital for profitability.

Scalable storage solutions will also allow you to make changes to your IT infrastructure more cost-efficiently, regardless if they are planned or not. You can scale up or scale down, all while keeping your capital expenditures and operating expenses low.

Need to reduce data storage costs

The cost of storing data is on the rise, and it's not showing any signs of stopping. In 2016, SMBs invested, on average, $286,000 in data storage. In two years, that number rose to $889.000. We can only expect similar growth as the market expands due to an increase in demand over the next 5 years.

While, in theory, data storage has become cheaper, that is only true when you look at hardware costs alone. Even though the cost of storing one TB is estimated to be $3,351 a year, people need to stop measuring storage costs in terms of dollars per TB, because there are a number of hidden costs that drive up the total cost of data storage.

The first one is data backup. Backup cost is a function of the storage volume. The more you back up, the more it's going to cost. As simple as that sounds, many companies fail to realize it. Business tools that help you search, process, and use all your data take up precious CPU as well.

Another hidden cost is maintaining on-the-go access to various file-sharing services, which can reach $450 per user on average. WAN acceleration for better network speed and better bandwidth are also eating into IT budgets and can cost $8,000 per location on average.

Then there is an area that is much harder to put a number on: maintenance and operation of data storage. The true cost of keeping data storage running smoothly will depend on many things: vendor services, hardware, and other IT resources – but with the rising cost of data storage and stagnant IT budgets, maintenance is an ongoing headache for many companies.

Need for greater IT flexibility

The consumerization of IT has changed expectations. Users expect fast solutions that deliver good-quality results, regardless if they are at home or work. As businesses adapt to cater to a new generation of users, 76% are looking to cloud apps and platforms to accelerate IT service delivery, according to an IDG Survey.

More and more businesses use automation and implement chatbots to improve delivery and support while reducing long-term costs and improving end-user satisfaction. The goal is to do more with less, but automation and chatbots often come with more software and, at times, more hardware needs. These must be compatible with the existing IT infrastructure.

The need for more flexibility in storage and software solutions is driven by the need to enter new markets quickly, meet security requirements, manage small budgets, mitigate risks, and fulfill various data protection obligations. On top of that, software solutions should also have an option for customization in order to build a storage infrastructure that works for every business case. 

Another factor that drives the need for greater flexibility is workforce mobility. Gartner has estimated that around 70% of all software interactions will occur on mobile devices by 2020. This calls for greater flexibility when it comes to access to systems and real-time data.

Need for greater IT security

Cybercrime has become easier and less risky to commit. Cheap and easy to use hacking tools can be found on black markets and, given that we are living in a Cloud Generation, there are plenty of sources to hack. Having all data online, in the cloud, is a double-edged sword: it helps with backup but hinders security. Hacking, privacy breaches, and cyberattacks are common risks in the cloud.

Juniper Research estimates that the average cost of a data breach will exceed $150 million in 2020. Compared to a global average of $3.86 million in 2019, the predicted change is astronomical.

A cyberattack can harm your business in many ways. A report from KPMG revealed that:

  • 42% of companies suffered financial losses
  • 42% experienced a disruption of business processes
  • 33% had confidential information leaked
  • 25% suffered damage to reputation

But the threat of data breaches isn't the only driving factor of the demand for better IT security.  Regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR require the companies to take cybersecurity more seriously or face large financial penalizations. These regulations were created as a response to numerous data breaches and growing demand from consumers for better data security.

Failure to comply with personal data protection might also cause public outrage and mistrust. Still, according to KPMG, as many as 76% of companies do not have contingency plans for personal data breaches in place.

When it comes to increasing security, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
  • Remove and delete inactive users
  • Segregate your network
  • Scan servers for viruses
  • Update software and OS regularly; only install trusted software
  • Have a patch management strategy
  • Monitor and baseline network protocols
  • Use network address translation (NAT), firewall, SSH key authentication, VPNs, honeypots and honeynets
  • Encrypt data
  • Detect insider threats
  • Scan for vulnerabilities and backup data regularly
  • Monitor third-party access to your data
  • Physically secure your network equipment

Lastly, no company is an island, but a part of one or multiple value chains and what one does affects the other. Hackers have found ways of getting into larger enterprises through third-party vendors. Work with your business partners to ensure ongoing joint cybersecurity.

Need to move away from multiple storage solutions

As more apps and software are introduced to make processes run smoother, businesses are spending more time and money to manage them. Often, the more applications you have running, the more work it will take to make sure you are getting the most value out of each one.

Besides that, many companies have to manage cloud solutions together with legacy software, which can be a challenge when it comes to flow, storage, and interconnectivity. This can be especially problematic when different apps in different systems need to share data for optimal performance.

To solve the problem, numerous cloud storage managers have popped up, but it's only a temporary solution. Good integration is vital for making storage management system work. Whichever solution you choose needs to work with the apps that you use now or in the future.

Also, the more providers you deal with, the higher the risk of data breaches, bandwidth limitations, and more difficult data management system.

Data storage will see major changes and challenges in 2020 as companies continue to feel the strain of increasing demands and limited budgets. Understanding the need for flexibility, scalability and security will help organizations build a simplified infrastructure that fits their needs and prepares them for the data challenges of 2020 and beyond.


Image Credit: scyther5/Getty Images
Lucas Roh
Lucas Roh Member
A serial entrepreneur, Lucas is the Founder and CEO of Lentiq, a multi-cloud, production-scale data lake as a service platform. Lucas has built several businesses over the years including Hostway Corporation, Affinity, and Bigstep. He has 20+ years of experience not counting his tenure as a Ph.D. at the Argonne National Laboratory.