In my recent blog post, I talked about the 5 challenges SMB networks will face in 2012. Today I'll give my predictions for the technology solutions that will help SMBs overcome these challenges.
As a recap, here are the 5 challenges that SMBs will face in 2012:
3. Rich media
4. Branch office consolidation
5. Drive out cost and do more with less
Let’s discuss the technologies and business solutions that will help SMBs overcome these challenges and improve their business.
1. Mobility: Business is moving at lightning speed and workers want to be able to conduct business wherever they are and at any time of day. They want to be able to access their work files on their personal smartphones and they want the freedom to be able to call up presentations on their tablet PCs, on the fly, when they're visiting customer sites.
In 2012, midmarket companies will enable this dynamic work environment by implementing standards-based networking solutions. Businesses will overlay mobility solutions to existing wired networks, offering a scalable migration path to a unified network. They will demand mobility solutions that address network core, wireless LAN, network management and network security.
2. Security: Your need for security will increase. Take your wireless network, for example. If you're going to let your employees access company data via their smartphones, you need to ensure you have security controls in place to support smartphones on your enterprise network. And you need to be sure that your employees have security measures in place on their smartphones . Is the 4-digit PIN security feature available on smartphones going to cut it for you?
Businesses will choose defense-in-depth security solutions to provide the most robust model of protection against harmful attacks. These defense mechanisms include:
- Perimeter protection: Firewall/VPN devices
- Interior protection: Intrusion prevention system
- Management solutions: Supports the entire deployment
A multi-function device, such as a unified threat-management appliance, provides multiple security functions within a single device.
3. Modernizing the network for rich media: During my workday, I probably view more graphics- and image-based files and videos than text files. Likewise, I predict that your employees will consume more rich media in 2012, from watching corporate videos on YouTube to downloading the latest training videos. And with the Summer Olympics being held next year, watch for spikes in network traffic from your employees watching streaming videos online. Can you networks handle the onslaught? Midsize businesses will begin upgrading their wired and wireless networks to support rich media.
4. Streamlining the branch office: No matter how big the organization, you'll always draw your opinion of the company by how well you were treated by the rep at your local branch. Branch offices are a crucial part of any business. It's the place where the business meets the end customer. Despite their importance, branch offices often struggle with the complicated network infrastructures that have grown over time within the branch. Many midsize businesses have little or no IT resource available in the branch.
In 2012, midsize organizations will streamline their branch office networks with branch office consolidation solutions. These solutions include unified communications and collaboration applications, WAN optimization and solutions to enable branches to continue operating in event of a WAN failure to head office. These solutions will help increase employee productivity and allow for faster and secure access to branch applications.
5. SMBs will jump into the cloud: Yeah, yeah, you saw this same prediction for this year, so why am I predicting this for 2012? According to some recent surveys, SMBs haven't fully embraced cloud computing. According to eWeek, nearly three-quarters of small businesses are unaware of cloud computing . Meanwhile, InfoWorld blogger David Linthicum, cites a separate survey that found that cloud in the midmarket is still in its very early stages. Linthicum says that’s because IT leaders in midmarket companies are simply too busy to investigate where cloud could benefit their enterprise. That’s a huge shame because of all businesses I believe it's SMBs that could most benefit from the cloud.
Those are my IT predictions for SMBs. Do they match with your plans for 2012? I’d love to hear.
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