4 Hidden Infrastructure Costs for the SMB
scale last edited by scale
Infrastructure complexity is not unique to enterprise datacenters. Just because a business or organization is small does not mean it is exempt from the feature needs of big enterprise datacenters. Small and mid-size organizations require fault tolerance, high availability, mobility, and flexibility as much as anyone. Unfortunately, the complexity of traditional datacenter and virtualization architecture hit the SMB the hardest. Here are 4 of the hidden costs that can cripple the SMB IT budget.
1 – Training and Expertise
Setting up a standard virtualization infrastructure can be complex; it requires virtualization, networking, and storage expertise. In the larger enterprises, expertise is often spread out across dozens of admins through new hire, formal training, or consulting. However, in the SMB data center with only a handful or even only one admin and limited budgets, expertise can be harder to come by. Self-led training and research can take costly hours out of every week and admins may only have time to achieve a minimum level of expertise to maintain an infrastructure without the ability to optimize it. Lack of expertise affects infrastructure performance and stability, not allowing for the most return on infrastructure investment.
2 – Support Run-Around
A standard virtualization infrastructure has components from a number of different vendors including the storage vendor, server vendor, and hypervisor vendor to name just the basics. Problems arising in the infrastructure are not always easy to diagnose and with multiple vendors and vendor support centers in the mix, this can lead to a lot of finger pointing. Admins can spend hours if not days calling various support engineers from different vendors to pinpoint the issue. Long troubleshooting times can correspond to long outages and lost productivity because of vendor support run-around.
3 – Admin Burn-Out
The complexity of standard virtualization environments containing multiple vendor solutions and multiple layers of hardware and software mean longer nights and weekends performing maintenance tasks such as firmware updates, refreshing hardware, adding capacity, and dealing with outages caused by non-optimized architecture. Not to mention, admins of the complex architectures cannot detach long enough to enjoy personal time off because of the risk of outage. Administrators who have to spend long nights and weekends dealing with infrastructure issues are not as productive in daily tasks and have less energy and focus for initiatives to improve process and performance.
4 – Brain Drain
Small IT shops are particularly susceptible to brain drain. The knowledge of all of 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.
Although complexity has hidden costs for all small, medium, and enterprise datacenters, the complexity designed for the enterprise and inherited down into the SMB makes those costs more acute. When choosing an infrastructure solution for a small or mid-size datacenter, it is important to weigh these hidden costs against the cost of investing in solutions that offer automation and management that mitigate the need for expertise, support run-around, and after hours administration. Modern hyperconverged infrastructures like HC3 from Scale Computing offer simplicity, availability, and scalability to eliminate hidden infrastructure costs.
scottalanmiller last edited by
I think that "brain drain" implies the wrong process. I think "loss of institutional knowledge" is a better way to think of that. Sure, brain drain could happen (where other firms target the acquisition of your good staff) but that's not the issue. Being hit by a bus, taking vacation, switching careers or retiring are all equal threats in this category.
@scottalanmiller Yeah, I was using "Brain Drain" in the more general sense of departure of expertise for any reason, not just poaching, although that can be a common cause.