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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Managing risk - protecting SMB business against operational threats

In the list of top 10 worldwide SMB business issues derived from Techaisle’s global survey of SMBs (1-999 employees), “managing uncertainty” ranks tenth, and the word “risk” doesn’t appear at all. This is likely more a reflection of how SMB executives would like the world to be, rather than a representation of everyday reality. The acronym FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is familiar to most business managers, and not simply as a catch-phrase: SMBs walk a fine line between managing risk resulting from the actions that they take (for example, security or privacy exposure relating to new systems) and risk arising from actions that they have not yet taken (which has its own acronym – “FOMO, or “fear of missing out”).

Clearly, security technologies are a core component of corporate risk management strategies. Techaisle’s global research, however, has identified several other solutions, including VDI/DaaS, managed services and IoT, which help executives to understand and manage risk in their operations. By capitalizing on the attributes of the technologies that best fit an SMB organization, obe can define an approach that allows the business to address ‘downside’ issues and move ahead with ‘upside’ opportunities.

IT security

Risk management is best achieved by developing a portfolio that incorporates IT security. It’s also true that IT security relies on a portfolio approach: there are at least 10 major technology solutions that are in common use by SMBs today.

For example, Techaisle’s US research shows that the top two solutions, anti-spam/email security and anti-virus/anti-malware/anti-spyware, are ubiquitous, with effectively universal deployment. Two other technologies, firewalls and web/content filtering, are in widespread use, at 73% and 55% respectively. No other security technology is used by more than 50% of SMBs: 49% of US SMBs use breach detection, 45% use data loss prevention (DLP) technologies, and usage levels drop for the other solutions on the list, to 25% for vulnerability scanning.

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HPE addressing SMB and channel partner Hybrid IT demands

Change is a constant in IT – and SMBs are struggling to keep up. A recent Techaisle survey of more than 1,500 US SMBs (1-99 employees) found that in 83% of SMBs, technology is more important today than it was 3 years ago. More than half of SMBs find that their technology adoption related pain points have increased in the last year. Cloud is supposed to provide SMBs with worry-free access to cutting-edge technology – but 59% of SMBs find cloud technology difficult to understand. SMBs need defined paths that help them to build business agility on top of a complex infrastructure foundation.

One area where support and guidance are most needed is hybrid IT. As per Techaisle’s SMB & Midmarket Cloud adoption study just over 80 percent of SMBs are either currently connecting or planning to connect their on-premise environments (including private cloud) to external public clouds. These firms are responding to a need to enable digital transformation of their business operations: more than 40 percent of SMBs (as per Techaisle’s SMB & Midmarket Digital transformation trends study) are already embracing an advanced ‘holistic’ digital transformation strategy; almost all have some type of digitization, digitalization or digital transformation initiative underway.

Because SMBs can’t support multiple parallel environments, hybrid IT took root earlier in this segment than within enterprise accounts. SMB progress on hybrid has been halting, though: there has been a serious disconnect between what the channel partners offer in terms of hybrid IT solutions to the SMBs and what the SMBs really are asking for. Techaisle has seen evidence of greater vendor focus on supporting the SMB transition to hybrid infrastructure, however. As an example, HPE with its recent SMB-focused product announcements is addressing SMB concerns by simplifying its SMB hybrid technology, supporting easier adoption, enabling hybrid deployments and paving a path for digital transformation.

HPE has released five hybrid cloud solutions leveraging Microsoft Azure services, and purpose-built ProLiant Gen10 servers featuring HPE Silicon Root of Trust capabilities for enhanced security. For the very small businesses, HPE rolled out a small office deployment solution that provides wireless networking in-a-box and includes secure servers as well as Aruba Wi-Fi access points and switches.

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Techaisle Take – HPE vs Dell SMB IT solution stack

Comparing Dell and HPE offerings and ecosystems against the Techaisle SMB IT solution stack model

Techaisle’s latest report is designed to help SMB buyers and suppliers identify IT stack requirements, and to compare the offerings and ecosystems of the two current market leaders, Dell and HPE, against Techaisle’s definition of essential SMB & midmarket business technologies. The report is structured in three parts:

  • The IT stack: the report begins by outlining the technologies that SMBs require – and require integration across – in order to support current and emerging business requirements
  • Vendor comparison: an evaluation of Dell and HPE offerings, including core products, non-core products and partner-delivered capabilities, against the stack requirements
  • Evaluating stack suppliers: advice on how to use the stack comparison, and additional Techaisle research findings, to evaluate Dell and HPE strengths
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Connected Security is essential for empowering Future of Work

Security is a feature that needs to be present within each layer of the stack. Security, needs to permeate all layers of an IT solution stack. IT security isn’t a discrete category – it is a ubiquitous factor in all aspects of IT/business infrastructure. 

The most important IT-related development in 2018 and beyond will be a focus on connectedness – connected cloud, edge, applications, security, collaboration, workspaces and insights. Internet and the web are the navigation routes that we have been developing since the 1970s; the always-on, everywhere-connected Interwork© platform is the destination that we will be creating in 2018 and for years to come. Please read Future of Work - Interwork: the next step in connected businesses

If there is an evident downside to ubiquitous and constant connectivity, it’s security. In conventional IT environments, security followed a ‘castle keep’-type approach: IT security staff gathered all critical information assets at the core of the environment, and focused their resources on hardening the perimeter, in much the same way that ancient castles used a moat and wall to safeguard people and assets within a central tower.

Today, of course, nations do not use castles as fortifications – and in truth, the traditional approach to security is scarcely better attuned to contemporary IT security needs. With the rise of mobility, cloud and connected supply chains reaching from component suppliers to OEMs to distribution and consumers, there is no perimeter to harden; any sizeable enterprise will have literally thousands of shifting entry points capable of accessing one or more corporate systems. And the rise in the value of information has spawned a sophisticated cyber theft industry: ‘bad actors’ use many different types of tactics and advanced technology to infiltrate corporate IT environments, with an eye towards stealing customer credit card data or internal financial or engineering information, hijacking corporate IT resources or obtaining some other form of benefit.

Security is the most amorphous of IT market categories. Virtually all other technologies occupy a defined position within the solution stack. Today’s security strategies no longer resemble a ‘wrapper’ around assets – they are built into each element of the corporate IT stack and rely on connectedness to (as the NIST framework recommends ) identify threats, protect against attacks, detect intruders if/when they breach perimeter defenses, respond to security events, and recover information lost to theft, loss and/or malware. 

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