Guest blog written by Christopher Chute, Research VP, Global SMB Cloud and Mobility Practice, IDC.
Today's IT leaders from Small and Midsize Businesses are finding that managing infrastructure, applications, and devices has never been more challenging.
Executive leaders are looking to IT to develop and maintain services that increase user productivity in order to meet the challenges posed by an increasingly hyper-competitive business environment. For CIOs, IT Directors or IT managers, mandates around controlling IT costs and securing devices, applications and, workloads are becoming more complex as more sophisticated cloud and mobile applications are utilized, often by users working out of remote offices. And many times, cloud-based applications are being utilized without the knowledge of the IT department, resulting in "shadow IT" problems.
These problems are compounded when dealing with a user base that's increasingly mobile, spread across multiple branch offices, or is comprised of millennials (users aged 35 and under) who have grown up in a world of smartphones, tablets, and mobile apps. Asking these younger workers to use traditional devices or on-premises capabilities for any IT process is an anathema to their work style, and IT security tends not to be their top priority.
According to a recent IDC survey of 455 U.S. and U.K. IT managers and decision makers working in Small and Midsize Businesses companies, there is a market gap that a hardware solution can fill, helping IT managers deploy and maintain multiple apps, devices, and environments:
- Size and unpredictability of IT costs (28%) data/IT security concerns (25%) and staffing/budget constraints hampering remote office IT management (22%) are the top three IT-related concerns. And many respondents cited they expect these problems to only grow over time.
- Small and Midsize Businesses have turned to cloud IT as a way to alleviate these concerns. 75% of Small and Midsize Businesses are actively deploying hosted applications or infrastructure services from third party cloud IT service providers. Respondents cite that managing and coordinating IT remotely (38%), faster recoveries from operational downtime (31%), and project deployment cost reductions (28%) are the top three benefits to adopting cloud IT.
- Email, data back-up, and archiving Web hosting are leading the adoption curve. Hosted email is viewed as a core capability that increases user productivity, since email can be accessed securely from any device. Cloud-based data back-up and Web hosting services help to lower IT project development and maintenance costs while still providing a high level of value to the organization.
Yet cloud IT delivery is not viewed as perfect. Respondents cite they continue to have concerns around data-loss protection (DLP, 48%), lack of consistent service availability (32%), and that cloud service costs will spiral out of control over time (27%). IDC anticipates that Small and Midsize Business IT leaders looking for ways to manage a diverse, disparate user base already engaged with cloud applications will soon be able to choose from a new set of on-premises servers that bridge these two environments. These servers can be remotely managed by either IT or an external service provider at the remote-office level, are purpose-built around secure access to a broad range of on-premises applications and cloud applications that can be easily curated and personalized within security and performance parameters. This type of approach will map well with the strong Small and Midsize Business preference to continue to deploy on-premises hardware solutions (61%), yet adding the ability to remotely manage cloud services and applications.
In just the past five years, the workplace has changed dramatically, as users, regardless of company size or sector, can now access IT resources anytime/anywhere. This flexibility is now a user expectation, and IT leaders and other decision-makers must recognize that their processes need to meet these expectations in order to maintain a high-performing workforce. Utilizing converged infrastructure hardware, particularly servers that can facilitate the speed and flexibility of cloud delivery with the security and compliance of on-premises systems, will go a long way to not just exceeding user expectations, but also providing a stronger level of policy compliance that can be easily managed remotely, improve user satisfaction, and reduce costly shadow IT.