108 IBM System Storage Business Continuity Solutions Overview
8.1 Small and medium sized business overview
Small and medium businesses (SMB) play a very important role in the worldwide economy.
As an example, according to US Government Small Business Administration data, SMB
companies range from home based entrepreneurs (small business) to those with a thousand
employees (medium business). Their annual revenues can run from thousands to billions of
dollars. The same data says that in the US, SMB represents nearly 99.7% of all employers,
responsible for nearly three quarters of the net new jobs created to the US economy in the
last three years. SMB accounts for over half of the United States private work force and drives
over 40% of private sales.
While SMB statistics will vary according to geography and economic conditions, clearly SMB
companies have specific requirements for Business Continuity. SMB companies, depending
on the nature of their business, have different business continuity requirements. As computing
technologies are becoming affordable, SMB businesses can take advantage of emerging
business continuity technologies to help drive growth and profits for their business.
8.1.1 SMB company profiles and business continuity needs
Recent natural disasters and terrorist threats have put Business Continuity (BC) as a top
priority for enterprises worldwide. This is a lot of urgency within SMB companies to gear up
their BC capabilities, as many if not most are behind in this area. IBM customer surveys
indicate that Business Continuity is the number one IT issue since 2003 for SMB companies.
These are the four key drivers:
As SMB companies increasingly rely on their IT systems to support their business, any
system downtime and data loss has severe negative impacts on revenues, profits, and
client satisfaction. Extended outages or the inability to recover critical data can cause
permanent damage to companies.
Recent government compliance regulations, such as the United States’ Sarbanes-Oxley
Act and HIPAA, also push data backup, restore, retention, security, auditability, and
Disaster Recovery requirements to top priorities for public SMB companies.
Customers and IBM Business Partners increasingly require reliable and highly available
systems as prerequisites for doing business.
The ability to minimize risks is important for some maturing SMB companies. Planning for
Business Continuity is similar to buying insurance; recent events make this type of
insurance a must rather than a luxury as in the past.
Most SMB IT management finds Business Continuity complex and resource intensive, so BC
planning usually is an afterthought. With increasing pressure from the lines of business and
BC technologies and solutions becoming more affordable and simple, SMB IT management
is moving BC projects forward. In some cases, BC can be leveraged to drive additional
revenues and profits.
With limited financial and technical resources, IT staff face the following challenges:
Ever diminishing data backup window time: With more servers and storage devices
coming on line, dramatic growth of data and the push for 24x7x365 system uptime,
planned outage windows are smaller by the day, affecting the ability to back up systems,
applications, and data adequately. Some data may be backed up at all, exposing the
business to liabilities and losses.
Inefficient tools: Since most off the shelf applications bought by SMB use their own backup
and restore tools to support their data only, it is common for SMB IT staff to run numerous