The trend of “Big Data” -- huge, almost unmanageable volumes of data that large enterprises collect via social media, internet, mobile devices, sensing technologies and other means -- dominates the current discourse surrounding data storage. But here's a twist: Drobo says 100 million SMBs and sole proprietors are concerned about the storage and management of much smaller -- but still vital -- amounts of data.
Drobo predicts that the data storage needs of the SMB segment will “explode” in 2012, but likely remain underserved by the entrenched, legacy data storage vendor community. MSPs should not need the opportunity this presents explained to them.
Enterprise Storage for the Little GuyAutomated data protection, advanced thin provisioning, and powerful data-tiering with solid-state drives (SSD) are among the innovative technologies that entered the enterprise market first, but in 2012 Drobo predicts they will further permeate home and small business offices.
Just because these solutions are available, however, does not mean that SMBs will know how to plug them in and make them work. With vendors likely distracted by the needs of larger clients (see above), the spread of enterprise storage to SMB users opens a great opportunity for MSPs to fill in the knowledge gap and let SMBs truly achieve the potential of these systems.
Hybrid Cloud Storage?Drobo is less bullish than many other observers on the penetration of cloud storage into the SMB market, but does advise that a hybrid cloud data storage model, which tightly integrates public and private cloud architectures with modern on-premise storage systems is likely to take hold next year. According to recent cloud usage research conducted by Drobo, 96% of SMBs (up to 500 employees) report they will store at least half of their data on-site for a minimum of the next three years. Factors cited included cloud performance, security and reliability concerns.
Both businesses and individuals did state that they wanted tighter and more automated integration between their on-site data and their cloud provider, showing a definite opportunity for MSPs with a cloud practice to pick up SMB business. However, as stated by a Drobo observer, “The cloud is going to have one foot on the ground for some time to come.”
Drobo is a data storage vendor serving the SMB market, so as always with these types of vendor forecasts and surveys, MSPs need to apply the concept of caveat emptor when analyzing the results. But MSPs serving SMBs should certainly at least investigate the data storage wants and needs of their clients now, so that if 2012 does turn out to be the Year of Small Data, they will be positioned to reap big dividends.