Four hidden infrastructure costs for the SMB

30 June 2017

Johan Pellicaan, MD EMEA, Scale Computing

Johan Pellicaan, MD EMEA, Scale Computing

Small and medium-sized organisations require fault tolerance, high availability, mobility, and flexibility as much as larger enterprises. Unfortunately, the complexity of traditional data centre and virtualisation architecture can hit the SMB the hardest. Here are four of the hidden costs:

Training and expertise: setting-up a standard virtualised infrastructure can be complex; it requires server virtualisation, networking and storage expertise. In the SMB data centre with smaller teams and limited budgets, expertise can be harder to come by. Self-led training and research can take costly hours and admins may only have time to achieve a minimum level of expertise to maintain an infrastructure. 

Support runaround: a standard virtualisation infrastructure has components from a number of different vendors for storage, server and hypervisor. Problems arising in the infrastructure are not always easy to diagnose and, with multiple vendors in the mix, this can lead to a lot of finger-pointing with no resolution. Long troubleshooting times can correspond to long outages and lost productivity because of this vendor support runaround.

Admin burnout: the complexity of standard virtualisation environments containing multiple vendor solutions and multiple layers of hardware and software mean longer nights performing maintenance and dealing with outages caused by non-optimised architecture. Administrators who continuously work overtime to deal with infrastructure issues are not as productive in daily tasks, and have less energy and focus for initiatives to improve process and performance.

Brain drain: knowledge of all the complex hardware configurations and application requirements is concentrated in a very small group, in some cases one administrator. While those individuals are around there is no problem. But when one leaves, for whatever reason, there is a huge gap in knowledge which might never be replaced. There can be huge costs involved in rebuilding the knowledge or redesigning systems to match the expertise of the remaining
or replacement staff.

So what are the solutions here? Although complexity makes costs more acute for the SMB, it doesn’t mean they have to give up on the benefits of technologies such as virtualisation. On the contrary, modern hyperconverged infrastructures developed specifically for the SMB offer simplicity, as well as one vendor to go to for speedy support, availability and scalability, thus eliminating these hidden costs.